Category Archives: Vui Kong’s Letters

Letters from Vui Kong – The Twelfth Letter : On Facing Death

Yong Vui Kong is a death row inmate in Singapore. He was arrested at age 19 with 47.27g of heroin, convicted of trafficking and sentenced under the Mandatory Death Penalty. His final appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 4 April 2011. He can now only plead for clemency from the President (acting on the advice of the Cabinet).

If the President does not grant clemency to Vui Kong, these will be the last 12 letters he will ever write.

The following is the twelfth letter:

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English translation:

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for reading this last letter. Time passes so quickly that this is already the last letter. I hope that when you have finished this last letter, you will still continue to support the “Give Life a Second Chance” Campaign.

For this last letter, I would like to talk about how I feel about facing death.

Firstly, I feel that the existence of the death penalty is not for the sake of retribution, but rather a method of allowing the offender to understand and really face the mistake he has committed. Take me as an example, I am actually grateful that I was caught, because it has allowed me to understand the true meaning and purpose of life, and has allowed me to find strength within myself. I remember I once mentioned about how the “me” before I was caught has never truly lived before.

A few days ago, my lawyer came to visit me. He told me that he will send the final appeal to the president a few days later.

On the night before the death sentence is carried out, many death row inmates have no chance to say goodbye to their families. For most of them, they are not in the mood of doing anything else other than feeling hurt and pain on the night before their sentence. Actually for most of these death row inmates, at the moment they are brought out of their room, they are unable to control their emotions, and they start to cry out loud. No amount of counselling will be able to help them because once they step out of their jail room, there is no turning back, and they will be gone forever. At this point of time, those who feel the most pain are their families. I do not dare to imagine how the family would feel when they are waiting outside to collect the cold and lifeless body of their family member.

For me, if tomorrow is my last night, I do not have a choice either, I just have to face the fact . After all, I was the one who made a mistake and I have repented.

You ask me if I would feel frightened, I think I may not be, because I am starting to become familiar with how it feels to face death, don’t forgot that in this short four years, I have brushed past death many times. I have “died” many times. In 2007 when I was caught, practicing Buddhism has allowed me to “reborn”, in 2009 when I was sentenced to death, my lawyer helped me to appeal against my sentence. To be able to live until today is really because of luck.

I do not request for my last dinner to be anything near sumptuous, I think I will follow my regular routine of waking up in the morning to chant my scripts and meditate, followed by my vegetarian breakfast until night falls, put on the best clothes which my sister has bought for me, say goodbye to the rest of the inmates, kowtow to them to show my appreciation and thanks towards them.

Having listen to Buddhist scripts and Buddha teaching is a form of help, guidance, advice and encouragement. I have been through stages where I felt lost, ignorant and was suffering but because of my practice of Buddhism, it has allowed me to free myself.

But I am really unable to express that kind of feeling and I really don’t know how I will feel when I walk
closer toward the noose, I guess no one really will know.

I am also grateful that members of society are willing to forgive me, being able to live until today is my
greatest fortune.

I think that my family has already accepted me, and also accepted whatever outcome it may be. They take comfort in the fact that I have turned over a new leaf, and that I have continued reading and practicing Buddhism. It has also improved the relationship between my family, especially amongst my siblings.

But I still worry sometimes that my mother will come to know that I am no longer around.

For this last letter, I wrote a short letter to express how I feel.

I would like to thank all of you once more, because I will not be able to share my story without your help. I will pray for you guys and I wish you health and happiness.

Vui Kong

Letters from Vui Kong – The Eleventh Letter : About Sharing and Mutual Aid

Yong Vui Kong is a death row inmate in Singapore. He was arrested at age 19 with 47.27g of heroin, convicted of trafficking and sentenced under the Mandatory Death Penalty. His final appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 4 April 2011. He can now only plead for clemency from the President (acting on the advice of the Cabinet).

If the President does not grant clemency to Vui Kong, these will be the last 12 letters he will ever write.

The following is the eleventh letter:

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“You have given me lots of thing in the little time? I’ve known you but one thing you’ve given me that I never expected and not many can do is Life.

I don’t think I ever had one till I heard of you. I only hope I can help get you yours back in return. Because nothing else is as valuable as your gift to me. I thank you for all that you do.

You have given me guidance and I will use it well and live it threw till my very end. You opened my eyes, mind and heart and shown me what living truly is and that life is worth living.

You are my guidance and I will pay it forward in your name for eternity. You will not go unheard. I would take your place in a heart beat.

Your name is and will always be worth something. I will not let you down.

Thank you Vui Kong. I love you.

Sincerely, Ely ?

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English translation:

Yetian:

This morning my brother brought the Buddhist books and amulets that Ely sent from America. I was very happy.

Ely is, like me, someone who once had been decadent and rebellious. She was confused too, and didn’t know what her goals in life were, and she almost lost her life because of drugs.

But today Ely is a very positive, very loving girl. She said my story changed her outlook on life. She is now actively participates in counselling and humanitarian programs, and hoping to help other lost sheep like herself.

This is a letter that she wrote to me, and I was very touched to read it:

“You have given me lots of thing in the little time? I’ve known you but one thing you’ve given me that I never expected and not many can do is Life.

I don’t think I ever had one till I heard of you. I only hope I can help get you yours back in return. Because nothing else is as valuable as your gift to me. I thank you for all that you do.

You have given me guidance and I will use it well and live it threw till my very end. You opened my eyes, mind and heart and shown me what living truly is and that life is worth living.

You are my guidance and I will pay it forward in your name for eternity. You will not go unheard. I would take your place in a heart beat.

Your name is and will always be worth something. I will not let you down.

Thank you Vui Kong. I love you.

Sincerely, Ely ?

I am very grateful, and also very happy that my story can change others.

I am glad that I know Buddha and my life have changed greatly since then. I never imagined I could change Ely too! And this kind of fated mutual benefit is one of the most precious blessings between people.

From the time I was at Queenstown Remand till now, my knowledge has grown and grown. Apart from my own opportunities to meditate, sharing views and feelings with my fellow inmates and wardens are also an important experience for me. We often talk about our views on life and Buddhism.

I often counsel my fellow inmates, the reason we don’t have the physical freedom today is due to our choices, decisions, destiny and actions in the past, and now we are facing our self-inflicted fates and consequence. When it is happy we are happy, when the reality is sad we are sad as well, and we let
our fate decide our days. If unhappy things happen, we should reflect. Simply put, we follow the opportunities and fates.

I often tell them to cherish the moment. To be happy is a choice that they can make. Take care of yourself, and also choose to be happy and do good. I also encourage everyone to study Buddhism and study the most difficult philosophies the most.

Buddha is really wise, he understands and knows all!

If a person’s mind and soul does not have something real to rely on, he will have no hope in his present, future and next life, and will not be able to be at peace or be happy. Although I am ignorant in many things, but I rely on Buddha’s teachings and I do not feel that there is any problem that cannot be
solved!

Wisdom, compassion, morals and culture do not discriminate between race and age; as long as you study hard you will get good results! If you have a good view and principle in life, after a long time it will develop into your own concept, and with a perfect concept your future will be very bright.

Lastly, I would like to share with you my favourite Buddhist hymn on Three Life Karma

If you would like to know what happened in your past life, then look at what are your sufferings in this present life.

If you would like to know what are your fates in the future life, then look at what you have done in the present life.

Amitabha.

Vui Kong

Letters from Vui Kong – The Tenth Letter : Drugs and the Death Penalty

Yong Vui Kong is a death row inmate in Singapore. He was arrested at age 19 with 47.27g of heroin, convicted of trafficking and sentenced under the Mandatory Death Penalty. His final appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 4 April 2011. He can now only plead for clemency from the President (acting on the advice of the Cabinet).

If the President does not grant clemency to Vui Kong, these will be the last 12 letters he will ever write.

The following is the tenth letter:

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English translation:

The Tenth Letter : Drugs and the Death Penalty

Yetian,

You once asked me to write about drugs and the death penalty, but I said that I did not have the right to discuss such an issue because I myself have been sentenced to death because of a drug offence. Also, I had not really thought too deeply about this question.

You asked me again about this issue.

Everyone here has been sentenced to death. Most of them are sentenced to death for drug offences. There are some who are older, but most of us are young. They have all been through their trials and lost their appeals. Some are waiting for responses from the President, others are just waiting for their “time” to come. They all have their own stories.

My brother mentioned another inmate; his name is Chun Yin. I believe the newspapers have reported his case before. Every Monday Yun Leong will see Chun Yin’s father. Once, outside the prison, Chun Yin’s father even asked Yun Leong to sign his petition.

My lawyer Mr Ravi also mentioned him before. His story is like this: after Chun Ying’s parents divorced, Chun Yin stayed with his father, helping his father run stalls selling clothes and VCDs in morning and night markets. He got to know a regular customer. This regular customer convinced him to go overseas and bring gold bars into Singapore. All the arrangements were made by this customer. But it turned out that hidden in the bag were not gold bars, but drugs. Chun Yin did not know that it was drugs hidden in the bag until the police ripped open the lining. He told the court all the details of the matter, and also revealed the identity of the customer and his phone numbers. But the judge did not believe him. My lawyer told me that the police had not done their best to trace this customer, and the judge did not think that it was important.

I am not a lawyer, but I cannot understand, why didn’t they trace this man? Often it is because of people like him that we are in such a situation. If this man was found, wouldn’t we be able to find out if Chun Yin was telling the truth or not? Chun Yin is currently locked inside here, how can he find the truth himself?

I am beginning to wonder, are there really people who have been wronged? Are all the sentences really fair? If a person has been wronged and hanged, isn’t it very tragic?

I have mentioned my next-door inmate before. He was very young, and he has already died. We talked about a lot of things. He never mentioned his case, but I feel that he was a very naïve, very ignorant kid. He could not face death. That morning at 3am, he was dragged out. His crying really made my heart ache. I kept chanting, hoping that his suffering would be decreased. I wonder, how could a person like him be a drug trafficker out to harm society?

After that time, I told the warden that even though I am at fault, so is the person who was behind the scenes making all the arrangements for me. I wanted to stop him from harming more people, so I told the police who this person was. I don’t know what happened next. I heard from the lawyer that he has been detained, but there is no evidence, so he has not been charged.

There is still one more thing that I must talk about. About 2 months ago, there was another inmate. He was older. His appeal was successful and he has been released. I asked my lawyer why; isn’t it very difficult to appeal? Isn’t it true that only a few people win their appeals? The lawyer told me that the Court of Appeal’s decision is like this: this person brought in many different types of drugs, and one of these was heroin. He told the court that he did not know that one of these drugs was heroin. The court believed him and said that he really didn’t know he was carrying heroin, and so he was released. The lawyer even jokingly told me, if only Chun Yin had said that he knew he was carrying drugs, just not that the drug was heroin, he might have had a chance.

My lawyer also takes the opportunity to explain to me the law regarding drug offences, saying that as long as drugs are found on you guilt is presumed, and if you are carrying more than a certain amount you will be presumed to be trafficking, etc. I don’t fully understand, but I think that this is very important. Many people don’t know about this, and because they fall on the wrong side of this law, they are sentenced to death.

Learning about these cases, I find it very strange. How is it that the court can believe this person but not that person; what is the standard and attitude adopted towards drug cases and the death penalty? My lawyer has tried to explain it to me, but it is too complicated and I don’t quite understand, so I don’t dare to talk about it here.

I suppose what I can say here is to encourage all the readers to go and understand this law!

Vui Kong

**Note: The man Vui Kong mentioned to have won his appeal did not get acquitted. He only had his death sentence overturned, and received a different sentence.