S'pore spares Malaysian drug trafficker's life, re-sentences him to life imprisonment

PETALING JAYA - Yong Vui Kong, the Malaysian who has been in death row in Singapore since 2009 for drug trafficking, has been spared the noose.

He will now be imprisoned for life and given 15 strokes of the cane, according to lawyer Ngeow Chow Ying, vice-chair of the Civil Rights Committee of the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall who has been spearheading a "Save Vui Kong" campaign.

She said the Singapore High Court decided Thursday on the re-sentencing of the Sabahan's case, which has attracted a lot of attention.

Last year, the Singapore Government announced changes to the mandatory death penalty, allowing death row inmates to be given a lighter sentence if they met certain conditions.

If the Attorney-General finds that they meet these conditions, it will issue a Certificate of Co-operation (CoC) allowing the inmate to apply to the courts for the death sentence to be set aside and to be re-sentenced.

Yong, 25, from Sabah, was sentenced to death after he was convicted on Jan 7, 2009, for trafficking 47gm of a controlled drug diamorphine on June 13, 2007, a capital offence under Singapore's Misuse of Drugs Act.

He was only 18 when he was arrested.

According to a statement by the Singapore Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) in September, Yong and Subashkaran Pragasam, a Singaporean on death row, have assisted the Central Narcotics Bureau in disrupting drug trafficking activities within and outside Singapore.

The AGC said if Subashkaran and Yong were able to prove to the court on a balance of probabilities that they were traffickers who only played the role of couriers, the prosecution will leave the sentence to the discretion of the court.

Subashkaran and Yong were the first two people awaiting capital punishment, who the Public Prosecutor decided to issue certificates of substantive assistance under the amended Misuse of Drugs Act.

Since being imprisoned, Yong has turned a new leaf, taking up Buddhism and spending a lot of time on prayer and meditation. He has also become a vegetarian and taken a new name, Nan Di Li, from the Buddhist Dharma.