The Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) expresses its deepest disappointment towards the dismissal of Yong Vui Kong's appeal by Singapore's Court of Appeal on Friday. This was despite all the extensive and constructive arguments put forward by his lawyer Mr. M Ravi.
It was also regretful that the court declared this judgment to be set as a precedent and no future arguments against the mandatory death sentence shall be made in a court of law. As a matter of prudence, legal interpretations must be subject to revision, continually challenged by new developments in legal and social thought.
While the Court acknowledged that the mandatory death sentence is considered a cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment in other countries, it added that Singapore's constitution does not provide for a prohibition against cruel, degrading and inhuman punishment.
Hong Kong had already abolished the death penalty in 1966. China, India and Japan have scrapped the mandatory death penalty, while Taiwan and Korea have held a moratorium on executions. In light of the global trend of countries abolishing the mandatory death penalty, Singapore's continued retention of the arbitrary law is both backward and deplorable. The SADPC reiterates that the mandatory death penalty is inhumane and has no place in a modern, civil society.
We are also disturbed that the Law Minister should comment on the case, making specific references to Yong, as the constitutionality of the MDP was pending before the Courts. His comments further prejudices the clemency process which is the final remedy available to Yong.
Further, the dearth of public discourse over the exercise of the death penalty in the tightly regulated mainstream media makes it difficult to gauge public approval. As such, the right of the state to carry out executions on behalf of the public must be called into question.
Given these circumstances, it is unsafe for the cabinet to decide on the clemency and the SADPC henceforth urges the state to commute Yong's death sentence to life imprisonment. In fact, having regard to international legal opinion, this seems to be the only option available to the state.
We would also like to salute Mr. M Ravi for all the energy and effort that has been put into fighting the case of Yong. It is inspiring to see that he has not given up hope and intends to continue in the fight to save Yong from the gallows.
The SADPC will continue to campaign along with Mr. Ravi's legal actions and we hope that the judiciary will change its mind and give Yong a chance to live.