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:
The Second Letter: Me and My Life
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.