After a fortnight long trial, Amos Yee Pang Sang, teen blogger from Singapore, was found guilty of posting an offensive picture and making hurtful comments with the intention to insult Christians. The prosecution went on to say that the 16-year-old would require counseling and probation. The court then acquitted him of a third charge that was related to the Protection from Harassment Act, which accused him of creating an online video that contained offensive comments about the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Sang is expected to be sentenced on June 2 after his probation report is produced in court. The prosecution also agreed to reduce Sang’s bail amount to $10,000 without any conditions, from the previous $30,000 as part of his bail agreement. Sang has been barred from posting anything online.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun said:
“His actions show him to be a misguided young man who sought to gain attention for himself by deliberately posting obscene material to shock and deliberately posting material he admits he knew would cause ill will among Christians. … His actions are far from being 'noble' or imbued with good intentions. It was a calculated course of conduct undertaken for the sake of publicity and without regard to the damaging effects on the community. … However, taking into account Yee's age and profile, it is clear that neither a sentence of a fine nor a term of imprisonment would be suitable in the circumstances. … What he urgently needs is counseling and appropriate probation.”
Sang’s lawyer Alfred Dodwell however said that his client has been very cooperative with police forces and sought no fine for both charges. He also pointed out that Sang had already spent 18 days in remand. While Dodwell initially said that Sang did not want a probation, the teenager eventually agreed to such a report after a joint discussion with his mother, other lawyers and the prosecution.
Chun explained that the probation sentence, which is offered to youth offenders, would not see Sang with a conviction record. When asked why Sang’s bail amount had been reduced, when courts usually increase it upon the accused being convicted, Chun said it was not in their interest to keep Sang in remand.
During his trial, Sang had pleaded not guilty to charges of allegedly transmitting an image online that depicts obscene figures and purportedly attacking Christianity with the intention to hurt religious sentiments. On May 12, Judge Jasvinder Kaur said that standards of obscenity would change with time and differ in different countries so the court would have to base its decision on community standards. In determining whether the picture uploaded by Sang was obscene, Kaur assessed the impact of the picture on teenagers, who were the most likely viewers of Sang’s blog and analyzed whether parents would contend their teen children from viewing it or teachers contend their students from viewing it.
“It would meet the strongest possible disapproval and condemnation,” said the judge. “On the second charge of making remarks intending to hurt the feelings of Christians, Yee's remarks were clearly derogatory and offensive to Christians.”
Sang was presented in court on March 31, a few days after he had uploaded a video condemning Lee, who passed away only a week before. A day later, he uploaded a picture depicting two people engaging in sexual intercourse – the two faces were superimposed with faces of Lee and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Sang’s parents arrived in court with a folder that contained his baby photos and childhood drawings. They showed the contents of the folder to Sang’s supporters while speaking to the media.
Photo Credits: Global Journalist