Yong Vui Kong

Letters from Vui Kong – The Seventh Letter : Happy Fathers’ Day

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 seventh letter:

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English translation:

The Seventh Letter: Happy Father’s Day

Yetian:

How are you these days? I am well, thank you for your concern. I do well in prison. Everyone treats me well.

Entering this June, everyone must be preparing to celebrate Fathers’ Day. Even though everyone is hard at work, I hope that you will all find some time to go back to visit your fathers.

In 1993, while I was still very young, my father left my mother. At the time all of us siblings were very angry and very upset, because from then on my mother was alone, with no companion.

At that time we blamed my father for being so cold-hearted as to abandon our family. We kept feeling hate, resentment and anger in our hearts. But we were young and there was nothing more we could do but resent my father’s cruelty.

I remember that back then we put all the blame on my father. Only my oldest sister Yu Ying alone understood, so apart from my big sister, my father was estranged from the rest of his children. But even though we were young we also knew that these were grown-up matters, and it was not easy for us young ones to judge.

To me, my father’s leaving was unfair to my mother, because from then on my mother had to take on the burden of supporting a family alone. She had to take care of all of us, and because of that, at a young age we siblings had to be separated.

I still remember one morning before class, my mother did not wake me up and I overslept, and because of that my mother got a beating from my grandfather. At that time I hid in a corner and I was very afraid, but I really wanted to use my own body to shield my mother. Then I cried and I vowed to go out to work as soon as possible so I could take my mother after from this place.

At the time I thought that if my father had still be around, my mother would not have been beaten. But this was so long ago, and things have already changed; studying and learning Buddhist philosophy has allowed me not to be angry with my father and grandfather anymore.

Parents are very important. Everyone needs their parents, parents who are bound to them by blood.

I don’t know how my father sees his marriage with mother, perhaps he thought that it was a mistake from the beginning, or he just felt that it was a responsibility: but in the eyes of the children, without him we would not have been born into this world.

After entering prison, my father came to see me a few times. He looks much older now. He always cried before me. I know he blames himself. As for me, I have let go of the past resentment. In my heart I only have gratitude.

I also have a godfather. He is a good friend of my father. He pitied me and took me in for about 2 years. I am also grateful to him. I heard that because of my case, he was very upset, and wrote an open letter for me.

Here, I would like to say, “Happy Father’s Day”. Please forgive me.

Yun Leong came to see me after he went back to our hometown, and I keep asking him to tell me about how our mother is. My mother thinks, “Vui Kong is inside meditating”. I hope that she will always think this. I hope that she will be well for the rest of her days. I remember that I wanted to give my mother a good life, but I did not succeed. This responsibility must now be given to my sisters and brothers.

Yun Leong tells me, our mother’s illness has improved recently. She does not take as much medication and she is always smiling. I was very glad to hear this. Although I cannot see my mother smiling, I am happy to hear it through my brother. Whether my mother will find out about my situation at the end, we will just let things take its course.

Yetian, the President decision will be coming. Whether it is good or bad, I hope that everyone will accept it. We must work hard not to let the next young person walk down the path I have taken. Thinking about this, I also think of my family. They are really very upset. I have let them down. Because of me, they are under a lot of pressure.

Of course I hope that the Malaysian government can help the other death row inmates, because some of them do not deserve to die.

Yetian, even if you are working hard, remember to at least make a phone call to your family.

Thank you.

Vui Kong

*****

Notes from Yetian:

To those following Vui Kong’s case, there are some photographs which might seem familiar to you: one of these photos is of Vui Kong’s father and family kneeling because the Istana in Singapore. I believe that photograph has brought tears to the eyes of many people. But according to Yun Leong, Vui Kong might not know that his father had put aside his pride and knelt before the Istana for him.

Yun Leong recently went back to his hometown in Sabah, to bring his family out to relax. I have been looking at his photographs, trying to imagine the happy times they had, but at the end of the day, something still seems to be missing.

Vui Kong's family kneeling before the Istana.

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