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Rashvinjeet S. Bedi
Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

Singapore

Hoping to graduate

The Star/ANN | Rashvinjeet S. Bedi | Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

PETALING JAYA - Yong Vui Kong, the Malaysian who received a reprieve on his death sentence for drug trafficking in Singapore is not content with merely escaping death.

His lawyer M. Ravi said that Yong wanted to take up studies in prison although that will be up to the discretion of the Changi prison.

"Singaporeans have the option to study in prison but in the case of foreigners it is up to the prison authorities," he told the Star Online.

Ravi said that Yong, 26, was willing to explore any opportunity to study but he believed that Yong was inclined towards languages as he was interested in English and Mandarin.

Ravi was however concerned about Yong's mental health as he was still confined to a solitary cell in prison.

"I am writing to the prisons about this. It has been almost a year that he was given the life in prison sentence," Ravi said adding that Yong looked very weak and had lost a lot of weight.

Yong, who is from Sabah, was initially sentenced to death in 2009 for trafficking 47gm of a controlled drug diamorphine in 2007. He was 18 when he was arrested.

In November last year however, the Singapore High Court re-sentenced Yong to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane.

This came after the Singapore Government last year announced changes to the mandatory death penalty, allowing death row inmates to be given a lighter sentence if they met certain conditions.

If the Attorney-General finds that they meet these conditions, it will issue a Certificate of Co-operation (CoC) allowing the inmate to apply to the courts for the death sentence to be set aside and to be re-sentenced.

Yong was found to have met the conditions, which resulted in the High Court re-sentencing him.

Ravi has appealed against the caning sentence by challenging its constitutionality, but the Court of Appeal judgement is not out yet.

Since being imprisoned, Yong has turned over a new leaf, finding solace in his Buddhist faith and spending a lot of time on prayer and meditation. He has also become a vegetarian and taken a new name, Nan Di Li, from the Buddhist Dharma. He is believed to be a victim of circumstances, having dropped out of school when he was only 11, subsequently falling into bad company.

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