SINGAPORE – Yong Vui Kong has become the first drug trafficker on death row to have his sentence reduced to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane, under amendments made to the Misuse of Drugs act.
High court judge Justice Choo Han Teck said this morning (Nov 14) he was satisfied that the Malaysian Yong, 25, has met the requirements of being only a courier under the amended law.
He and another drug trafficker, Subashkaran Pragasam, 29, were also certified to have “substantively assisted” the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in disrupting drug-trafficking activities within and outside the Republic in September this year.
To escape the death penalty, the men had to prove to the court “on a balance of probabilities” that they only played the role of couriers whose involvement was restricted to transporting, sending or delivering a controlled drug.
Subashkaran has yet be re-sentenced.
Yong’s lawyer, Mr M Ravi, said in a media statement, “This is the happiest day of my client’s life. He feels intense gratitude towards all those who have worked so hard to save him from being executed.”
“Yong has seen the error of his ways and has repented. He is happy to have his life back again,” he added.
Under amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act in November last year, judges will have the discretion to sentence a drug trafficker to life imprisonment with at least 15 strokes of the cane instead of death, if he had only played the role of a courier, and either suffers from a mental disability substantially impairing his appreciation of the gravity of the act, or has cooperated with the CNB in a “substantive” way.
In November 2008 and October last year, Yong and Subashkaran were convicted of trafficking in more than 15 grams of heroin respectively.