Category Archives: Vui Kong’s Letters

Letters from Vui Kong – The Third Letter : A Changed Heart

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 third letter:

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1/5/2011

English translation:

The Third Letter – A Changed Heart

Yetian:

I would like to tell you a story.

I have been worrying about someone for quite a long time.

This person has a good nature. But when he was growing up he was led astray. He did not respect his parents and followed others to get involved with drugs. He was petty, bad-tempered, proud, vulgar and self-centred. He was very selfish and proud.

But this person has now changed all his bad habits, all his bad acts. He is sincere about changing.

I will use an example to prove how he is determined to change.

A person in the forest saw a big fruit tree, and was tempted to eat the fruit. He did not know that the fruit was poisonous, and was then poisoned. This person greatly regretted eating the poisoned fruit, and in that moment, that regretful heart would be his first sincere emotion, right?

Yetian, if you knew this person had been poisoned, and at the same time, knew how to cure him, would you cure him?

This person is now about 30, with no home, no car, no freedom, no family, no kids, no friends, not many clothes, no experience, no education, no correct way of thinking, no chance to leave his country and no love from his parents and siblings. This person does not have anything. But he has a small hope… that his family and society will forgive him, and let him change his life.

I used to be bad, and would always quarrel with people. I had no aim in life and only wanted to earn money to live a good life. I also wanted my mother to live well. I was greedy, and was thus poisoned. I have repented before the Buddha, and I heard that over 100,000 people have signed the petition to forgive me. I am very grateful. My life began when I started learning Buddhist philosophy. Before that I was not really living.

If a person has made a mistake, he must then suffer the consequences under the law. I understand that. So, if he wants to be cured of the poison, he can only repent to the Buddha.

In here, every person has been poisoned. If I could, I would like to help cure them all.

Let me go back to the topic of drugs and I.

For me, drug is something far way from me, yet it changed my life. I know that when my brother Yun Leong wrote to the President to ask for clemency, he mentioned my involvement with drugs.

At that time I was ignorant and really believed, “Even if I get caught I won’t die.” So I delivered these “gifts” into a law-abiding country – Singapore. I only have myself to blame.

Over these two years, thanks to my lawyer who explained to me the law in relation to drugs, I have finally understood how serious this is. I am now studying English, so I can better understand the lawyer’s submissions, and also the relevant law. I thank the prison department for giving me a dictionary.

There are many young people who are willing to deliver drugs because drugs can earn you a lot of money. They are like how I was; because I could get a lot of money, I agreed to do this.

At the time our minds are ignorant and naive. We did not realise that when you deliver drugs, you will not get money in exchange. When you get sent to prison, what you get in exchange is a mother’s heartache, a family’s worry, society’s judgement, the punishment from a government, and the world giving up on you.

This situation is the same as what I am in. I am a real life example.

In here, I am deeply repentant. Luckily, it is not too late. Luckily, my mother has seen the new me. Luckily, my family does not have to worry about me anymore.

It takes three years to learn to be good, but three days to be bad. Turning over a new leaf is more precious than anything.

All right, I will stop here. In writing these letters, I have grown more confident in my teachings, and I hope I can continue to share them. I laugh at myself for thinking that I can indeed be an educator, it must have taken a lot of “blessing” from others for me to do that.

Thank you. Amitabha.

Vui Kong
1/5/2011

Letters from Vui Kong – The Second Letter: Me and My Life

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 second letter:

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22/4/2011

English translation:

The Second Letter: Me and My Life

Yetian,

Yun Leong brought your letter when he came to visit me on Monday. He told me that the first letter has been published.

Thank you, and thank you to all the kind-hearted strangers who have helped me. Thank you to all those who read my letters. I hope that everyone can read my letters. This is the only way for me to connect with the outside world.

You said that life is very precious.

To me, life is the most important thing in the world. There are many things that mean a lot to me. But even if you have a lot of money, or many material possessions, you still only have one life.

In the past, I did not value or respect my life. It was only later that I realised, those who do not respect their own lives, cannot expect others to respect them.

After turning to Budhhism, I realised that I have a responsibility in life.

I watch my fellow inmates losing their lives, one by one, because of they were ignorant, or easily misled. It breaks my heart. Amitabha. I know I’ll be just like them. So I would like to use every remaining day of my life to tell people my story. I want to use the Buddhist philosophy to tell everyone not to make mistakes, not to end up on death row because of drugs. I want to tell them never to take drugs and destroy their lives.

Of course, I hope that I can have more time to meditate, to read more Buddhist books and to absorb more Buddhist philosophy so that I can continue teaching others. But ultimately, this will all depend on fate.

Thinking back to the day Yun Leong came to see me at the detention centre, I was crying like a child. I was so afraid. My hands and legs were trembling as I cried. I had broken down. All my macho bravado had disappeared.

I was very afraid of death. I didn’t know what would happen to me after dying.

After reading the scriptures, I dreamed of the Earth Bodhisattva. I saw through many things, and learnt not to cling on to life. This life has been given to me by Buddha. He has made all the arrangements for me, and I accept them.

I am very grateful for my life. I am very grateful towards all those who have worked hard to try to save me, and to ask for the President of Singapore to grant me clemency. If I were to give up now, wouldn’t I be letting them down?

I really don’t want those who have supported me, helped me and encouraged me to be sad.

I don’t know why, but I know that my case has caused a lot of quarrels between people. I said before that life is nothing something to be wasted, but to be cherished. Quarreling is a waste of life.

I don’t blame the Singapore government. I don’t blame anyone. I believe that every country has its laws. If you make a mistake and get caught, then you deserve to be punished. I also know that Singapore is governed by a rule of law. Asking a country to change its law is a very difficult thing.

I don’t yearn for anything. All I want is more time.

I am a death row inmate. I have no right to ask for the abolishment of the death penalty. But I still feel that the death penalty is not a workable solution.

I am grateful to those who have been able to forgive me. It is a miracle that I have been able to live this long. I will take good care of myself, study hard and improve myself.

You asked me what I would do if I were granted clemency.

I don’t yearn to leave prison. In fact, that I think this is an excellent place to meditate. I’ve already devoted myself to Buddhism, but I hope to find a priest who will ordain me one day and officially accept me as a monk.

While I’m alive, I will work hard to share my experience with everyone. I want to be like the priest who visits me here regularly, and tirelessly share the wisdom of Buddhism with everyone.

I will devote my whole life to help those who other people are unable to reach.

Even if I do not get a second chance, I hope that everyone will always remember to give themselves a second chance. Life will be fuller this way.

Yetian, it’s been hard on you. You have to write to me even though you have to work. I am really happy, and hope to keep writing. I will stop here today. Amitabha.

Vui Kong
22/4/2011

Letters from Vui Kong – The First Letter: Prison Life

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 first:

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16/4/2011

English translation:

The First Letter: Prison Life

Dear Yetian,

Thank you for your letter, and thank you for giving me a platform and the strength to tell my story. This is my first letter. I hope to let everyone know what my life is like in prison.

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Yong Vui Kong. In early 2011, I celebrated my 23rd birthday in prison. I wasn’t alone during my birthday. Lots of friends on the outside were also celebrating with me.

Why am I in jail? It’s because I helped traffic drugs into Singapore. I was caught when I was 19. It’s been a few years now. I am a death row inmate, and by right, I should have been dead long ago. But a lot of people have been helping me, and that’s why I’m still alive today. If it wasn’t for all these people, I think I’d have left this world long ago.

My mother doesn’t know I’ve been sentenced to death. I’ve told her I’ll be going to a far away place to seek enlightenment. I told her not to worry about me. She believed me.

Let me now tell you about my life inside here.

I get up at around 4 every morning. I don’t have an alarm clock because I don’t need one. I’ve gotten used to this routine, and it’s not changed these past few years. Even the prison wardens know I am an early riser. They see me getting up each morning via the CCTV inside my cell.

After washing up and brushing my teeth, I’ll spend time studying the scriptures until 7am. After that, I’ll meditate quietly until 9. Some people might think I’m just trying to kill time, but in my heart, I believe it’s better to make full use of my time than to just let it slip away.

At 9, I have breakfast. I don’t eat the same things as the rest of the inmates. Even the wardens know this and will only deliver vegetarian meals to me. Vegetarianism has become a habit for me. The benefits of vegetarianism are something you have to experience yourself. I can tell you it’s a good thing, but you might not believe me. I encourage everyone to give vegetarianism a try.

In the past, when I knew I was going to die soon, I couldn’t stop crying because I was scared. But the Buddhist priest who visits me every week has taught me not to fear death.

Earlier this year, a friend inside left us. Before he left, I chanted for him. He left peacefully.

Until I die, I’ll use my time wisely to counsel people and tell them not to choose drugs.

Over the past few years, my relationship with my older brother, Yun Leong, has improved a great deal. We used to fight over all kinds of things. But now, our relationship is much improved. If not for his help, you wouldn’t be reading this letter now. I am really grateful to him. He visits me every Monday. We chit chat and he listens to me talk about Buddhism.

How many more Mondays will we have?

In the past, my rebelliousness made my brothers very unhappy. Now that I’m a changed person, my brothers feel much better. I think that’s the least I can do.

Actually, I’m doing very well in prison. The wardens show me a lot of respect. Whenever my brother visits, they’d unshackle me and we’d bow to each other. My brother tells me they hold me in high regard. I am humbled to know that.

In my spare time, I study the scriptures. I’m afraid I won’t have enough time to learn everything. I don’t even think there are enough hours in a day for me to study. A lot of people think that it must be tortuous for me to spend an extended time in prison, but I feel good because I can make full use of the time to learn. I feel very fulfilled.

I like to chant. But because of the strict rules inside prison, I can’t use normal meditation beads. That’s because they’re afraid I’ll sharpen the crystal beads and use them to kill myself. My priest is very thoughtful. He used flour to make little beads, strung them up and gave them to me. I use them when I chant.

Suicide? I’ve never thought of it. Life is to be cherished, not squandered.

Yetian, thank you. I’ll stop here today. Amitaba.

Vui Kong
16 April 2011

A banner for Vui Kong on his 23rd birthday.