At first it all seemed a little ambitious. 100,000 signatures in support of a second chance for Yong Vui Kong. 100,000. That felt like an awful lot. How on earth was it achievable?
I’ve since realised that my skepticism was misplaced. And that Malaysia has some truly amazing activists. Over the past few weeks, they’ve worked hard – running an extremely intelligent online campaign, hitting the streets, mobilising just about anyone they could reach. They even convinced 44 Malaysian MPs and 15 Senators to support their cause.
At lunchtime today, there were 98,340 signatures.
Vui Kong’s family has played an active role in the campaign. They flew in yesterday, bearing stacks of papers with several thousand more signatures. Small wonder then that everyone was a little nervous this afternoon. 100,000 seemed so near, so real, yet so far away.
But as the day progressed, there was more and more good news. An activist in KL called to say he had received another 5,000 signatures. And every time we checked the tally on the online petition, it was up by a couple of hundred.
At least 100,000 people believe Vui Kong deserves a second chance. Wow.
For the past two weeks, Yun Leong has spent his lunch breaks on the streets of Singapore, talking to strangers, pleading with them to sign the petition in support of his brother. And today, despite nursing a sore throat, despite knowing we’d hit the 100,000 mark, despite the rain, he decided to go out again.
We watched from a distance. Some people ignored him, others were downright rude. But a few who bothered to listen eventually agreed to sign. Painstaking work, and Yun Leong would tell us later, that it was painful too. How could it not be? He had to open himself up to a bunch of strangers, tell them about his brother on death row.
“Three,” he said. “That’s three more rays of hope.”
Total tally as at 10.30pm, 23 August – 108,698
Yun Leong and his family will be taking the petition and signatures to the Istana tomorrow (24 August). If you haven’t signed and would like to, please do so here.