Monday, April 11, 2011

We have moved!

To be able to share more stories and experiences, and talk about the different cases we are working on, we have moved to:

Please update your links! :D

Saturday, April 9, 2011

See you tomorrow! :D

Last night, the Save Atiqah campaign announced that they had reached their objective of raising S$50,000 to help cover Iqah's legal fees. They have achieved this goal a lot quicker than everyone had expected, and so big huge thanks go out to everyone who has support them and donated to help Iqah!

All this support for Iqah is cause for celebration, and the Second Chances Flea Market will go forward as planned. It's tomorrow, 2pm - 8pm at The Pigeonhole (52/53 Duxton Road), and we hope to see you all there!

We will continue to sell Second Chances wristbands, badges, photo prints and those who have pre-ordered their cupcakes can meet us to pick them up. We will also be providing postcards (on a donation basis) for people to write messages for Vui Kong and Atiqah.

With this flea market, we hope to raise awareness on Iqah's case, and to gather even more support from Singaporeans for her. We also hope to get more people thinking about and discussing the mandatory death penalty in both Singapore and Malaysia.

As promised, the proceeds of the flea market tomorrow are still going towards the Save Atiqah campaign. The Save Atiqah campaign committee will be meeting tomorrow morning to decide on how best to use the new funds that are being raised.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Write a postcard and send some love!

Find more information at the Facebook event page here.

As Sunday approaches, it's time for us to close pre-orders for cupcakes and photo prints.

For those who still want to purchase photo prints, though, you can pay for them through PayPal and get them posted to you! Click here to do so.

On Sunday, the Second Chances stall will also have some picture postcards available on a donation basis for you to write messages to Atiqah and Vui Kong. These messages will be passed to Atiqah and Vui Kong's family members who will be able to deliver them.

Atiqah has told her friends and family that she would love to receive letters and messages from us, and Vui Kong always looks forward to hearing from those who have been following his case and supporting him.

As we are out here campaigning and fighting for a second chance for both of them, they have to stay within the prison boundaries. And so we hope that these postcards, together with the messages we write, will be able to brighten up their day.

See you on Sunday!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Photo prints for Second Chances.

Since we all decided to go ahead with the Second Chances flea market to support Atiqah, I have been wondering what I could contribute to sell. I can't really cook or bake or sew and the last time I did handicrafts I superglued my finger to an ice cream stick.

I have thus decided that I will contribute some of the photos I have taken to sell as prints, with all profits going towards the Save Atiqah campaign.

These photos can be printed either 8R or 4R size. 8R prints are going for S$10 each, and 4R S$5 each. They can be picked up at the flea market on the 10th of April at The Pigeonhole.

#1 - Buddhas in Pak Ou Caves, Laos

#2 - A Sleepy Cat

#3 - The Fun Guy

#4 - Cosy by the Fire

#5 - Girl, Bangladesh

#6 - The Old Man

#7 - Boy, Bangladesh

#8 - My Cat and His Pillow

#9 - Peeking Through

The numbers and titles of the photographs are listed under the previews. To pre-order, please email to webelieveinsecondchances[at]gmail[dot]com with the photo numbers, the size (8R or 4R) and the quantity wanted. Thank you!

- kirsten

Not even close to giving up.

For those of you who haven't already heard, the Court of Appeal dismissed Yong Vui Kong's appeal yesterday. Vui Kong was appealing for a judicial review of the President's powers in the clemency process, as well as Law Minister K Shanmugam's comments made in May 2010.

The Court of Appeal has ruled that the President does not have the power in granting clemency petitions, and must act on the advice of the Cabinet. They also ruled that the Law Minister's statements did not constitute apparent bias.

You can read more about the verdict here.

We're all very disappointed in the verdict, but it doesn't mean that we're giving up. In fact, we're not even close to giving up. The campaign to save Vui Kong's life will continue, and Second Chances will continue to support him and his loved ones.

We want to continue to raise awareness about Vui Kong's case. A huge number of Singaporeans (and Malaysians) still have no idea about his case, or understand how the mandatory death penalty works. We want to find ways to reach out to them, because we believe that there are many more people out there who would want to support Vui Kong, if only they knew more about his case. So please, start talking about Vui Kong with your family and friends, and spread the word! Take the discussion from the online sphere to the offline one as well.

To Vui Kong's family and friends: It's not over yet. We will be behind you all the way.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Help Liyana help Atiqah.

The following was first posted on the Lianain Films blog. Second Chances would like to thank both Liyana (MommaMiia Creations) and Lianain Films for all their support. :)

This is Liyana. When we met her last year, she was living in a tent in Sembawang Park with her husband Fazli, mother, and two young sons. She was also seven months pregnant. Life, as you can imagine, was pretty damn awful.

We could tell you so much more about Liyana’s ordeal, but for now, it’s enough to say that things are a little better. Yes, it's still a struggle getting through each day. But at least Liyana's family are no longer sleeping in a tent. They’re sharing a three-room HDB flat with another couple and their four kids. It’s a little crowded and a little stressful, but as Liyana puts it, “I'm glad we have a proper roof over our heads.”

A few months ago, Liyana decided to start a 
small online business selling handmade jewelry. The pieces are quirky and very pretty. Liyana makes about $200 a month from her business - money she uses to buy daily necessities for her two boys and baby girl.

This is Noor Atiqah, a single mum sentenced to death in Malaysia for drug trafficking. She’s just 27 and her little girl is seven. They’ve not seen each other in two years. Noor Atiqah’s family and friends believe she is innocent and are desperately trying to raise $50,000 to appeal the verdict.

Liyana has never met Noor Atiqah before. But when we told her about the case, she started to cry.

“My life is hard, but when I hear this story, my heart…”

She never completed the sentence but we knew exactly what she meant.

Liyana has decided that she wants to do something for Atiqah. Next week, she’ll be setting up shop at “Sunday Eclectica”, a fleamarket at Pigeonhole. On sale will be a range of handcrafted earrings, necklaces and other pretty trinkets, as well as some yummy baked goods. Our friends at "We Believe In Second Chances" will also be selling badges, wristbands and cupcakes. Liyana has generously offered to contribute a portion of the day’s takings to the Save Atiqah fund. “Second Chances” will donate 100 percent of their profit to the cause.

When we asked Liyana why she wanted to help, her answer was simple, “I’m a mother. How would any child feel about losing her mother?”

Please help Liyana help Atiqah. Come visit us at the fleamarket on Sunday.

Second Chances Flea Market - Who wants cupcakes?

Cupcakes! Sweet, cute, yummy – what's not to like?

We're now taking pre-orders for cupcakes, to be picked up at our flea market on 10 April at The Pigeonhole (52/53 Duxton Road), 2pm - 8pm.

We have a super kickass baker who has volunteered to bake cupcakes/muffins for us, and so we're taking pre-orders for them starting NOW. Each cupcake is going for $5. ALL proceeds are going to the Save Atiqah campaign.

They are coming in two awesome flavours: banana + chocolate chip and chocolate.

To make pre-orders, email webelieveinsecondchances[at]gmail[dot]com or message me on FB.

Thank you for your support!

- love, kirsten.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Help us raise money for Atiqah!

In March 2011, Atiqah was sentenced to death by Shah Alam's High Court. You can read her story here.

Atiqah's family believe that she is innocent, and are now campaigning to raise funds to get a second legal opinion as well as to raise awareness of her case. You can read their blog here.

After hearing of Atiqah's case, we at Second Chances would also like to do what we can to support her and her family. Thus, to help raise money for the Save Atiqah campaign, we are joining the Sunday Eclectica flea market at The Pigeonhole on Sunday, 10 April.

We'll be bringing you more updates about what you will be able to find at our stalls this week, so watch this space!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How many need to die?

Hello everyone,

Vui Kong and his mother
It's been awhile since I have written in this blog. Since January, there hasn't been much news on Yong Vui Kong's case to update everyone with. The verdict for his last appeal (17 January 2011) will be delivered on 4 April 2011. I'll be there, hoping for good news. Anyone who wants to send a message to him (no matter whether you did or not the last time 'round), feel free to send it to webelieveinsecondchances[at]gmail[dot]com. We'll do our best to get it passed on to Vui Kong.

Apart from Vui Kong, though, I learned about two "new" death penalty cases in the past week alone. I would have blogged about them sooner, but I wanted to find out more and collect my thoughts before I wrote anything. It's always hard to wrap my head around the thought that more people might die just because we decided that they should.

Last Thursday I made a trip to Johor Bahru, my first time in years. I went to visit Cheong Kah Pin, the father of Cheong Chun Yin (Ah, a 27-year-old man on death row in Singapore. (The report I wrote about his case is here on The Online Citizen.)

Cheong Chun Yin
Cheong has exhausted all his appeals. He has already filed his clemency petition to President S R Nathan in January. The President is expected to reply by the end of April. If his petition is rejected, Cheong can be hung as early as the second week of May.

His father, Mr Cheong, is at the end of his rope. He is a hawker, opening a makeshift stall at the night markets, and sometimes the morning market as well. These days, he tells us, he tries his best to work as much as possible. It's not because he needs the money, but because he cannot stand sitting alone in the house he used to share with his son, the only child who stayed with him after he divorced his wife years ago.

He struggles to make sense of what has happened. "I cannot accept this," he keeps saying. "Just like that, my son's life is going to be taken."

Right now, his son is alive. He is in jail, but alive. He can visit him every Monday, talk and keep him company for some time. But if the petition gets turned down... one Friday morning his son is going to be removed from his cell and taken to the gallows. At 6am on that morning, a father will lose his son, an able-bodied, healthy son who had been so close to him through all the ups and downs of the years gone by.

Mr Cheong, talking to us about his son

Does this seem right to you? Who are we punishing now?

Atiqah and her little daughter
At the same time, I'm also reading about the case of Noor Atiqah M. Lasim. Her situation is reversed from that of Vui Kong and Ah Yin – instead of a Malaysian on death row in Singapore, she is a Singaporean on death row in Malaysia. It's a stark reminder that both countries are in the minority of nations in the world who have the mandatory death penalty (MDP) for drug trafficking, a situation that anti-death penalty activists in both countries are trying to change.

Atiqah's friends and family say that she was misled and tricked by her Nigerian boyfriend, and that the drugs that were found in her possession did not belong to her. She is yet another unwitting mule who must now pay the price. This is not a new story. So many have already fallen into this situation. So many have already lost their lives because of it. And still it goes on.

Atiqah's supporters have started their own blog, Save Atiqah, and are trying to raise more money for the legal expenses that will be incurred as they fight for her life in the courts. I admire the strength in her family and friends and their determination to save their loved one, and hope that Second Chances will be able to help them in some way.

Vui Kong, Ah Yin and Atiqah are only 3 of the many, many people who have either been executed, or have been sentenced to death. Their lives hang in the balance, not because of illness or accidents or injury, but because we, represented by our country's laws, condemn them.

We are told that the death penalty is necessary because it deters people from trafficking drugs, keeping our streets and families safe. But my question is this: how many more need to die? It clearly can't be that effective now, or we wouldn't have cases like Vui Kong, Ah Yin or Atiqah. The effectiveness of the death penalty should have put an end to such occurrences. So how many more need to lose their lives before the death penalty really stops drugs, or we realise that it is time for a change?

Yes, Vui Kong, Ah Yin and Atiqah have made mistakes in their lives. Judging from the situations they are in now, they've probably made some pretty big ones. But how many of us haven't made any mistakes ever, big or small? Are the mistakes they made enough to give us the right to say, "YES, YOU SHOULD DIE"? Can we not find it within ourselves to say, "You made a mistake, but you should have the chance to try again and to redeem yourself"?

I hope that both the Singaporean and Malaysian governments will be able to be merciful and compassionate enough to give these people a chance. But I know that my single wish, my single hope, will not be enough to persuade them. I hope that you will join me and support the campaigns and activists who are trying to stimulate debate on the mandatory death penalty, and who are doing their best every day to get a second chance for Vui Kong, Ah Yin and Atiqah.

With love,

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Political Parties and the MDP

The elections are drawing nearer. People are abuzz with the recently announced budget, and bread-and-butter issues are hot topics of discussion. This year, Singaporeans will once again cast their votes, determine the direction of the country for the next 5 to 6 years.

Through all of this, I cannot help thinking, “What about Vui Kong?”

Since his last appeal hearing on the 17th of January, Vui Kong has been on death row in Changi Prison, waiting for his verdict. Waiting, waiting, while Singapore moves on.

I'm not saying that the bread-and-butter issues aren't important. However, we need to also remember that the mandatory death penalty, and Vui Kong's case, also reflects upon the country we call home. So, as a young Singaporean and first-time voter, I decided to email the different political parties and ask them about their stance on the mandatory death penalty.

These are the parties I emailed:
People's Action Party (PAP)
Singapore Democratic Party (SDP)
Reform Party (RP)
National Solidarity Party (NSP)
Socialist Front (SF)
Singapore People's Party (SPP)
Worker's Party (WP)

Both email addresses I tried for the Singapore People's Party bounced back, so perhaps they never got my message. Apart from that, though, I received replies from two parties: SDP and RP.

SDP's reply was short and simple:
The SDP's stand on the mandatory death penalty for drug peddlers is clear: We don't support it.

RP stated that they would abolish the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, and attached a past press statement:
The Reform Party Calls For Abolition of Death Penalty for Drug Trafficking
The Reform Party is heartened by the recent stay of execution granted to Yong Vui Kong, a convicted drug trafficker, pending a final appeal. However his chances of a reprieve are slim since the law prescribes the mandatory death penalty for anyone convicted of bringing more than 15g of heroin into Singapore. 
Singapore’s use of the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking offences is out of step with its aspiration to be a first-world nation and has no place in a civilized society. Those executed have been overwhelmingly from the poorer, more vulnerable sections of society and in several disturbing cases (e.g., Iwuchukwu Amara Tochio) they do not appear to have had any knowledge of what they were transporting. The Reform Party calls for the abolition of the death penalty for drug trafficking offences and, in Yong Vui Kong’s case, for the commutation of his sentence to a lengthy prison term. There is no evidence that the death sentence has more of a deterrent effect than a life sentence. 
I personally am against the use of the death penalty in all but the most extreme circumstances. Once carried out, it is impossible to reverse and give life back to someone who has been the victim of a miscarriage of justice whereas other penalties permit the possibility of redress. I recall the case of Zainal Kuning, Mohammed Bashir Ismail and Salahuddin Ismail who confessed to a murder in 1989 and would have been convicted and sentenced to death at their trial in 1992 were it not for my father’s, the late J.B. Jeyaretnam, efforts in forcing the prosecution to re-examine the physical evidence and reveal that it implicated another individual and not his clients. If they had been executed and subsequently it had been discovered that another person was guilty of the crime it would have been too late to make amends and for justice to be served. 
Kenneth Jeyaretnam
The Reform Party

As part of We Believe in Second Chances, I am glad that these two parties are against the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking. I am glad that if it were up to them, Yong Vui Kong would not needlessly lose his life.

I hope that the other political parties will not shy away from this issue. It is not just enough to talk about the economy or industry. This is also our chance to set a new direction for Singaporean society, and help us move towards being a more compassionate, merciful country.

- kirsten

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Yong's Story

Yong's Story aired on Al-Jazeera English's Witness strand today. It shows us the desperate efforts of his family and lawyer to save his life.

In the course of the fight for his life, important legal questions have been raised; questions that will have an impact beyond just his case. His story has also triggered large campaigns in both his home country of Malaysia (especially in his hometown Sandakan) and in Singapore. People who have never even met him have come forward, volunteering time and precious resources to the campaigns to save his life.

With this documentary, hopefully more people will be made aware of Vui Kong's story, and think about what we're actually trading just so we can fool ourselves into believing that we've solved the drug problem in Singapore.

Does Vui Kong really have to die for us to be safe? Doesn't he deserve a second chance? What would it say about us, if we let him go to his death without a word of protest?

Monday, January 17, 2011

A smile to say, "Thank you."

The court had adjourned for 15 minutes while Vui Kong's lawyers prepared some documents for his case. People stood up and began milling about, talking in low voices or answering messages on their phones.

I sat next to Vui Kong's brothers, Yun Leong clutching the messages and birthday banner I had handed over to him just a moment ago. We were both looking over at Vui Kong, sitting with head bowed in the dock, flanked by two policemen.

Lynn came over to chat with us. "Are you going to show Vui Kong the banner?"

"Can we do that?" Yun Leong looked unsure. There were quite a few police officers standing around, all looking stern and businesslike.

"Just go and ask them!"

Lynn went up to the policemen and Yun Leong followed with the banner. They stood by the glass panel separating Vui Kong from the public and got his attention. He looked over, a little confused at what they were doing. Then Yun Leong unfolded the banner and held it up for him to see.

For those of you who were at Second Chances in the Park, you know how big the banner is. As Yun Leong held it up, you could see all the signatures, all the well wishes, and the Second Chances heart right in the middle with the message "Happy 23rd Birthday Vui Kong!"

From where I was I could see him mouth a silent "wah!" as he looked at all the signatures and took in the size of the banner. Then a smile lit up his whole face, and he looked exactly like what he is: a young, scrawny kid. He pressed his palms together and bowed.

He didn't get to see the banner for long, because the court security guards said we weren't allowed to display banners. But the important thing was that he got to see it, and know that people support him.

When Yun Leong goes to visit him next week, he will also get to read the letters and messages everyone has sent to Second Chances.

So on behalf of Vui Kong, we would just like to pass on his thanks to everyone who signed the banner or sent a message, or supported the campaign to save his life in any way.

- kirsten

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Blog-A-Thon for Vui Kong.

This is the blogroll of entries related to Vui Kong as we kick off our Blog-A-Thon today. We will keep adding articles and entries as and when we come across them, so if you would like to be listed please add your link in a comment! If you don't have a blog, send your message to webelieveinsecondchances[at]gmail[dot]com!

Huibing: For the Second Chances Blog-A-Thon
Kirsten Han: A Letter to Vui Kong
Seelan Palay: Yong, please don't die
Mark Tan: Second Chances
Ushnisha: Happy 23rd Birthday Vui Kong! :)
Sarah: "You're not alone."
bookjunkie: Vui Kong, You're Just A Child to Me
Stephanie Chok: Dear Vui Kong
Jarrod Luo: Living on Borrowed Time
Lianain Films: Happy Birthday, Yong Vui Kong
Rachel Zeng: Let the boy live
Kim Lian Rolles: My letter to Yong Vui Kong

Amnesty International: Happy Birthday Vui Kong: May the candles of life continue burning
Jacob George: Petition for clemency of Yong Vui Kong (a timeline)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Blogging for life!

Hello all!

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year, and that 2011 is treating you all good so far.

Yong Vui Kong's hearing has been scheduled for the morning of 17th January 2010, the week of his 23rd birthday. He has heard from his brother about Second Chances in the Park and the birthday banner, and was very touched to know that there are so many people who care! So thank you to everyone who showed up, and everyone who signed the banner and sent him well wishes of hope and compassion for his birthday.

And now, it's time for the next Second Chances event!

The Second Chances Blog-A-Thon!

This one is not so much an "event" like Second Chances in the Park, but something that anyone and everyone can do from the comfort of their own home/office/school/friend's house/grandmother's house.

Here is the plan...

On the 16th of January (i.e. the day before Vui Kong's hearing), write an entry on your blog about Vui Kong. It can be as long or as short as you like, made up of words or photos (or even video), as long as it is related to Vui Kong's case.

That's it. That's the plan. Easy, right?

We are hoping that with as many bloggers as possible writing about Vui Kong on the day before his hearing, we would be able to generate more exposure and attention for his case and the issues surrounding it, as well as reinvigorate debate and discussion in Singaporean society.

But what if I don't have time on the 16th?

That's no problem, just write your post when you have time and schedule it to be published on the 16th of January!

What if I don't have a blog?

No worries: you can write a Facebook note, or just post a message on our Facebook wall. You can also send messages to us at webelieveinsecondchances[at]gmail[dot]com, and we'll post your entry for you as a note on our Facebook page.

So that's it, a simple plan, and may the blogging begin (but publish on the 16th)!