Teenage blogger jailed in Singapore for the second time
Fifteen months after he was given a prison sentence for ‘wounding religious feelings’, teenage blogger Amos Yee, above, was today sentenced to six weeks imprisonment for a similar ‘crime’ and fined $2,000.
According to this report, the 17-year-old was found guilty of eight charges – two for failing to turn up at a police station and six for intending to wound the feelings of Muslims and/or Christians.
Principal District Judge Ong Hian Sun said:
He has, on several occasions, deliberately elected to do harm by using offensive and insulting words and profane gestures to hurt the feelings of Christians and Muslims. His contemptuous and irreverent remarks have the tendency to generate social unrest and undermine the religious harmony in our society.
It is therefore in the public interest that such conduct by (Yee) should not be condoned or tolerated by this court.
If Yee does not pay the fine, he will have to spend another 10 days in jail. He will start his sentence on October 13.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi said:
This case is about an accused person who, even after a previous brush with the law for a similar offence, deliberately upped the ante by escalating the offensiveness of the material which he created. Yee cynically set out to wound religious feelings in order to gain attention for himself, and ultimately to profit financially from such attention.
DPP Hon said that although Yee is young, he is not immature, and:
He knows full well the implications of his action. A viewing of his videos, laden with strong language and rife with comments aimed at insulting key aspects of the Christian and Muslim faiths easily bears this out. In sentencing, this court should send a clear message that acts which impugn the racial and religious harmony of this country will not be tolerated.
Defence lawyer N. Kanagavijayan said Yee is:
Deeply remorseful for all his acts. He admits that all his acts were grossly offensive and provocative to the Christian faith and to Islam. He admits that his acts were premeditated.
He admits that he does not possess any religious, scholastic and/or intellectual ability to discuss religion. He admits that the contemptuous and vituperative language that he had used … shows his shallowness of his thoughts in respect of both Christianity and Islam.
Yee first came to the attention of the authorities when he uploaded an expletive-laden video on March 27, 2015, four days after the death of founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. Yee later also posted an obscene image on his blog.
He was convicted on May 12, 2015, and sentenced on July 6 to four weeks’ jail. He was released the same day as the punishment was backdated to include his time in remand. He had spent about 50 days in prison after repeatedly breaching bail conditions.
His latest month-long trial was attended by officials of the UN Human Rights Council and the European Union, and was also closely watched by rights groups.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Right Watch’s Asia division, said in an email:
By prosecuting Amos Yee for his comments, no matter how outrageous they may have been, Singapore has unfortunately doubled down on a strategy that clearly violates freedom of expression.
For a country that prides itself on efficiency, Singapore should re-examine its approach, because every time the authorities go after him, it just adds to his online audience who are interested to find out the latest thing.