Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Singapore Sedition Act


Sedition Act: An Act for the punishment of sedition


The Sedition Act is in Chapter 290 of the Statutes of Singapore. It was last revised in 1985.

In September 2005, the Sedition Act was first used on individuals when three men, including a teenager, were charged for making seditious and inflammatory racist comments on the Internet.

Seditious tendency
(1) A seditious tendency is a tendency:
  • (a) to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the Government;
  • (b) to excite the citizens of Singapore or the residents in Singapore to attempt to procure in Singapore, the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of any matter as by law established;
  • (c) to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the administration of justice in Singapore
  • (d) to raise discontent or disaffection amongst the citizens of Singapore or the residents in Singapore;
  • (e) to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), any act, speech, words, publication or other thing shall not be deemed to be seditious by reason only that it has a tendency:
  • (a) to show that the Government has been misled or mistaken in any of its measures;
  • (b) to point out errors or defects in the Government or the Constitution as by law established or in legislation or in the administration of justice with a view to the remedying of such errors or defects;
  • (c) to persuade the citizens of Singapore or the residents in Singapore to attempt to procure by lawful means the alteration of any matter in Singapore; or
  • (d) to point out, with a view to their removal, any matters producing or having a tendency to produce feelings of ill-will and enmity between different races or classes of the population of Singapore, if such act, speech, words, publication or other thing has not otherwise in fact a seditious tendency.
(3) For the purpose of proving the commission of any offense under this Act, the intention of the person charged at the time he did or attempted to do or made any preparation to do or conspired with any person to do any act or uttered any seditious words or printed, published, sold, offered for sale, distributed, reproduced or imported any publication or did any other thing shall be deemed to be irrelevant if in fact such act had, or would, if done, have had, or such words, publication or thing had a seditious tendency.

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THE RETURN OF THE SEDITION ACT FOR THE INTERNET

The Sedition Act has made its comeback. The last time it was used was in 2008 when a Christian couple deliberately distributed Christian material to Muslims for conversion purposes. The sentece was 8 weeks jail. However, it was the Internet that paved the way for the Sedition Act to reappear as deterrence and punishment in 2005. In three cases that year, three individuals were charged with the Sedition Act for making anti-Malay and anti-Muslim Internet postings. The sentences were a day in jail and fine, a month in jail and one 24 months of community work. Hence, being charged and sentenced under the Sedition Act is not as horrible as being charged under vandalism.

This week, cartoonist Leslie Chew from Demon-cratic was charged with the Sedition Act supposedly for his comic insinuating that the PAP government was racist and marginalised the Malay community. Leslie might be a mediocre comic artist and his comics are not slick compared to My Sketchbook or Cartoon Press, and even quite one-sided with a huge dosage of populist naivety e.g. when he dumbed down the foreign labour argument.

However, although he is a so-so and shallow political commentator, he is not seditious, compared to those sentenced in 2005 and 2008. Even Amy Cheong , who was let off with a warning, was more seditious than Leslie as Amy was outright racist in her comments.

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SEDITIOUS IN SINGAPORE! FREE SPEECH AND THE OFFENCE OF PROMOTING ILL-WILL AND HOSTILITY BETWEEN DIFFERENT RACIAL GROUPS

In 2005, the archaic laws of sedition were summoned to counteract speech considered offensive to racial and religious groups in Singapore. Under the Sedition Act, it is seditious to, inter alia, promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population. In a later case involving religious proselytisation, a Christian couple was charged and convicted of sedition under the same section. This article examines this new phenomenon. It investigates the manner in which these laws have been employed and jurisprudentially developed to restrain speech on race and/or religion in Singapore. The article argues that the current state of the law is highly problematic for its adverse impact on free speech as well as for its conceptual confusions with alternative bases for restraining speech. It contends that failure to extricate the existing conceptual confusions is adverse to free speech and community integration in the long run. A threefold legal framework is proposed to provide clearer guidance on inter-racial and inter-religious interaction within the Singaporean society

In 2005, the Singapore blogosphere was scandalised by reports of blatant online racism. A local blogger had parodied the halal logo, placing it next to a pig’s head and, among other derisive and vulgar assaults on the Malay-Muslim community and its customs, compared Islam to Satanism. His blog entry sparked a slew of  racial slurs attacking both Malays and Chinese in Singapore. In another part of the blogosphere, a different blogger caused furore with a post entitled “The Second Holocaust” advocating genocide against the Malays. These bloggers and another were charged and convicted of sedition. Under Singapore’s Sedition Act, it is seditious to “promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population”. This is a significant restraint on freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech is constitutionally guaranteed under art. 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore. The official justification is that such restraint is necessary to preserve the public interest of maintaining peaceful and harmonious relations between the different racial and religious groups in the country. Situating this racialised fracas in the context of Singapore’s underdeveloped state of nationhood is necessary in order to fully appreciate the gravity of the issue. Singapore is a racially and religiously diverse society composed of three main racial groups: the Chinese who form the clear majority at 74.1 percent, the Malays who are the largest minority group at 13.4 percent and the Indians at 9.2 percent. This diversity and the lack of a common nationality, in the sense of a shared sense of community arising from commonalities such as race, language, religion and/or even a shared baptismal experience in history, have made independent statehood exceedingly difficult. The large coincidence of race and religion within the population deepens social cleavages since religious differences and disputes may also be perceived as racial in nature.


Singapore teen behind anti-Lee Kuan Yew video arrested: police

AFP/Roslan Rahman - A Singapore policeman holds his post as mourners pay their respects to Singapore's late former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew as he lies in state at Parliament House ahead of his funeral on March 26, 2015

Singapore police said Monday they have arrested a teenage boy who posted an expletive-laden video on YouTube attacking Christianity and the country's late founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, but the exact charges were unclear.

"In response to media queries, the police confirm that a 17-year-old male Singaporean was arrested in relation to the case. Police investigations are ongoing," a Singapore Police Force statement said late Monday, without providing further details.

Singapore's Straits Times and other local media said the young man, described as Amos Yee, a 17-year-old student, was arrested on Sunday.

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Duo from The Real Singapore arrested under Sedition Act


Two persons from The Real Singapore (TRS) have been arrested and investigated by the police for offenses under the Sedition Act.

Both, a Singaporean, 26 and an Australian woman, 22 were arrested by the Singapore police on 6 February. The two are said to be owners of the social political website.

The investigation by the police is said to be on the article published on TRS which supposedly depicts the account of a witness of an incident during the recent Thaipusam festival.

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The Real Singapore duo slapped with 7 charges under Sedition Act

he couple behind socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS) - a 26-year-old Singaporean man and a 22-year-old Australian woman - were on Tuesday (Apr 14) each charged with seven counts of sedition.

Yang Kaiheng and Ai Takagi allegedly published seditious articles on the website between October 2013 and February 2015. One of these articles falsely claimed that an incident between police and some members of the public during a Thaipusam procession on Feb 3 had been sparked by a Filipino family's complaint that the drums played during the procession upset their child. The contributor of the article posted on another website that the allegations made in the TRS piece were untrue. Yang is Singaporean, while Ai Takagi is Australian.

According to the charge sheets, the particular articles have the "tendency to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different groups of people in Singapore, name, between ethnic Indians in Singapore and Philippine nationals in Singapore".


Filipino Edz Ello finally arrested and charged in court



Filipino Ello Ed Mundsel Bello (Edz Ello) was finally arrested and charged in court today (7 Apr). He faces 2 counts under the Sedition Act, and another 3 charges for giving false information to the police during investigation.

Edz Ello’s arrest came after netizens started questioning the police for their quick arrest of Singaporean Amos Yee while taking a long time to deal with the foreigner. In the case of Amos Yee, it appears that the police were very efficient in conducting their investigation. They were able to bring charges against the teenager in a record 4 days, after he had posted a video on YouTube that derided the late Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew on 27 March 2015. Amos Yee’s case has since made global headlines (‘Arrest of Amos Yee makes world news‘).

In Edz Ello’s case, the Filipino posted derogatory and inflammatory comments about Singapore and Singaporeans on his Facebook page last year. In one of the posts, he was alleged to have incited his Filipino compatriots to “like” his Facebook post, if they wanted to see Singaporeans dead:


Singapore charges Filipino nurse with sedition

Filipino nurse Ello Ed Mundsel Bello was charged with sedition on Tuesday (April 7) after allegedly posting anti-Singaporean rants on his Facebook account last January.

Aside from sedition, the 28-year-old Bello was also charged for lying to the police after he allegedly told authorities last January 3 that his account was hacked and so it wasn't he who posted the racist rants.

According to The Straits Times report written by Elena Chong which was posted April 7, Bello's posts could promote ill will and hostility among Singaporeans and Filipinos in Singapore. Sedition refers to the "conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state."


Singapore drops sedition charges against political cartoonist Leslie Chew


Yahoo Newsroom - One of political cartoonist Leslie Chew's most recent comics, published on his Facebook page "Demon-cratic Singapore". (Picture from Demon-cratic Facebook)

Singapore’s state prosecutor has decided not to pursue sedition charges against political cartoonist Leslie Chew.

It will, however, still be proceeding with four contempt of court charges for four comics Chew published between 2011 and last year, the Attorney-General’s Chambers’ said in a statement on Monday.

Chew, who is behind the "Demon-Cratic Singapore" Facebook page that houses a wide range of politically-nuanced comics, was arrested in April for police investigations into possible offences under Singapore's Sedition Act, which outlaws acts "with a tendency to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different races or classes" among its people.


Racist rant: Amy Cheong gets stern warning from police
Former NTUC assistant director of membership Amy Cheong. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF AMY CHEONG

THE police have issued a stern warning to Miss Amy Cheong over her expletive-filled racist rant on Facebook last year.

The 38-year-old Australian and Singapore permanent resident, who has returned to her family home in Perth, confirmed to The Straits Times that she received an e-mail from the police last week informing her of the closure of her case file.

Miss Cheong, a former assistant director of membership at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), made headlines last October after she lost her job for posting the insulting message on her Facebook page.


British expat Anton Casey on anti-Singaporean Facebook posts: Please forgive me

Yahoo Newsroom/NTDTV YouTube video screengrab - British national and private wealth manager Anton Casey

A private wealth manager in Singapore who sparked outrage online for referring to public transport commuters as "poor people" has apologised.

In a statement issued through Fulford Public Relations on Tuesday, British national Anton Casey said, "I deeply regret having offended and disrespected the people of Singapore. I have the highest respect and regard for Singapore and the good people of Singapore; this is my home."

Several of Casey's comments caused public outrage when screengrabs of his Facebook posts surfaced on various Singapore websites and forums on Monday.


POLICE ARREST TWO FOR RACIST REMARKS ONLINE

Police have arrested two male 17-year-olds for posting racist remarks online which could promote ill-will and hostility between different races in Singapore.

On 27 June 2012, Police received two reports informing that postings with racist remarks were found on Facebook and Twitter. Upon receiving the reports, Police conducted extensive enquiries and subsequently managed to establish the identities of the suspects. The suspects were arrested on 28 June and 29 June 2012. Investigations into the case are in progress.

Under the Sedition Act, anyone found guilty of promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore shall be liable, on conviction for a first offence, to a fine of up to $5,000 or to imprisonment for a term of up to 3 years, or to both.


Blogger arrested for posting racist online content

A LOCAL blogger who ranted about a commuter's behaviour on an MRT train was arrested on Tuesday night.

Police said the 24-year-old Chinese man was taken from his home at Paya Lebar Way at about 9.45 pm for 'posting contents in his blog which may wound the racial feelings of another person'.

A computer, believed to be used to post the suspect's blog, was seized for investigations, which are ongoing.

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Singapore prosecutes bloggers with colonial-era sedition law

BRITISH colonial law which helped fight a communist insurgency is now being used to prosecute three ethnic Chinese accused of writing racist remarks about ethnic Malays on the Internet, as authorities attempt to crack down on racial intolerance and regulate online expression.

Animal shelter worker Benjamin Koh Song Huat, 27, and Nicholas Lim Yew, an unemployed 25-year-old, will plead guilty Oct. 7 to sedition for racist remarks against the minority Malay community, their lawyers said. They face up to three years' in prison and a maximum fine of S$5000.

Experts said the Sedition Act has not been used in Singapore since it broke off from Malaysia and became independent in 1965. But analysts say the government may be using the Act to raise the case's profile in an effort to stamp out racial intolerance in a country where social cohesion has been a chief concern since Chinese-Malay riots in the 1960s left scores dead.


17 year old to face sedition charges

JUST four days after two men were charged with making racist remarks online, another blogger has joined their ranks.

This one is only 17, but his remarks appeared to be at least as virulent as those made by the two men charged on Monday.

Gan Huai Shi appeared in court on Friday, faced with seven charges under the Sedition Act for remarks he made between April 4 and July 16 this year.


Two Bloggers Charged under Sedition Act Over Racist Remarks

For the first time in Singapore, two bloggers have been charged under the Sedition Act with making racist remarks. Twenty-five-year-old Nicholas Lim Yew faces two charges and 27-year-old Benjamin Koh Song Huat faces three.

A subordinate court was told that both their blogs had racist content, which sparked off a heated discussion online. The charges read that Lim had, on 16 and 17 June 2005, posted racist remarks on a web forum. Koh was alleged to have done the same on 12, 15 and 17 June on another website.

In doing so, they are alleged to have committed an act which had a seditious tendency. This is defined as promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races of the population of Singapore.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Heart Attack Prevention: Statins and Exercise

Heart Attack Prevention: Statins and Exercise

If you have high cholesterol, then your doctor has surely talked to you about eating right and exercising. You may also be on a statin drug like Lipitor® (atorvastatin), Zocor® (simvastatin) or Crestor® (rosuvastatin).
So what to make of research suggesting that statins may interfere with our ability to get the maximum benefit from heart-healthy exercise? “Statins are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world, and more and more patients are asking about this study,” says preventive medicine specialist Roxanne B. Sukol, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Executive Health Program.
Michael Rocco, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, notes that “muscle pain and weakness are a real issue for up to 8 to 10 percent of patients taking statins, and may limit their ability to continue on statins or to exercise. But it’s important to put the new research into perspective.”
- See more at: http://robbreport.com.sg/health-and-wellness/prevention-treatment/cleveland-clinic/cleveland-clinic-heart-attack-prevention-statins-and-exercise?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=relatedlinks&utm_campaign=general#sthash.DmzI8icB.dpuf

Heart Attack Prevention: Statins and Exercise

If you have high cholesterol, then your doctor has surely talked to you about eating right and exercising. You may also be on a statin drug like Lipitor® (atorvastatin), Zocor® (simvastatin) or Crestor® (rosuvastatin).
So what to make of research suggesting that statins may interfere with our ability to get the maximum benefit from heart-healthy exercise? “Statins are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world, and more and more patients are asking about this study,” says preventive medicine specialist Roxanne B. Sukol, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Executive Health Program.
Michael Rocco, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, notes that “muscle pain and weakness are a real issue for up to 8 to 10 percent of patients taking statins, and may limit their ability to continue on statins or to exercise. But it’s important to put the new research into perspective.”
- See more at: http://robbreport.com.sg/health-and-wellness/prevention-treatment/cleveland-clinic/cleveland-clinic-heart-attack-prevention-statins-and-exercise?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=relatedlinks&utm_campaign=general#sthash.DmzI8icB.dpuf
A study published in the May 2013 Journal of the American College of Cardiology looked at the problem of muscle symptoms and statins in detail

University of Missouri researchers followed 37 overweight, sedentary participants with two of five risk factors for metabolic syndrome (a condition that  increases the risk for diabetes and adverse cardiovascular events).

None of the people in the study had ever taken statins. All began a three-month exercise training program, working up to 45 minutes of treadmill walking or jogging for five days a week. Half received simvastatin, and half did not.

LDL (bad) cholesterol levels fell 40 percent in the statin group and increased slightly in the non-statin group. Yet cardiovascular fitness increased 1.5 percent in the statin group vs. more than 10 percent in the non-statin group. “Muscle biopsies showed that mitochondrial enzyme levels (expected to rise in the cell during exercise) rose 13 percent in the non-statin group but fell 4.5 percent in the statin group despite the increase in exercise,” notes Dr. Sukol.

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Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Why men won't get married anymore

Women complain chaps today won't settle down. Sorry, ladies, but it's all your fault, argues a wickedly provocative new book
According to the Office for National Statistics, marriage in Britain is at its lowest level since 1895 

A controversial new book argues that the triumph of feminism has meant men are now second-class citizens.

On Saturday, in our first extract, it laid bare how men are abused, belittled and exploited. Today, it shows how men are treated unfairly in marriage and fatherhood.
George Clooney, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne may have all taken the plunge recently — but they are a diminishing band of brothers, for the number of men marrying in the West has plunged in recent decades.

The state of matrimony is not just ailing. It is dying out faster than a mobile phone battery.

According to the Office for National Statistics, marriage in Britain is at its lowest level since 1895. In 2011, there were just 286,634 ceremonies — a 41 per cent free fall from 1972, when 480,285 couples tied the knot.

For an army of women, Mr Right is simply not there, no matter how hard they look for him. And the reason? When it comes to marriage, men are on strike.

Why? Because the rewards are far less than they used to be, while the cost and dangers it presents are far greater.

‘Ultimately, men know there’s a good chance they’ll lose their friends, their respect, their space, their sex life, their money and — if it all goes wrong — their family,’ says Dr Helen Smith, author of Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood And The American Dream.

‘They don’t want to enter into a legal contract with someone who could effectively take half their savings, pension and property when the honeymoon period is over.

‘Men aren’t wimping out by staying unmarried or being commitment phobes. They’re being smart.’

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Monday, 27 April 2015

Amos Yee - Disagreeing graciously


Within the last month, Amos Yee has become the latest in a string of individuals who have exhibited insensitivity and poor judgement with their social media postings.

Let’s review what has transpired: a 16-year-old boy posted a series of insensitive, even disturbing commentaries to the chagrin of a wider community. Instead of addressing the gravity of his actions, what ensued was an escalating raising of pitchforks, people across different ages and backgrounds baying for blood, some literally. 

When emotions get the better of us, we lose the sensibility to know where to draw the line. Some of us have gone well beyond the bounds of decency, in many cases being more offensive – vulgar and threatening even – than the original post we objected to.

It is neither a proportionate response, nor the mark of a civilised society.

Tasteless videos and posts are no excuse for responding with vindictive attacks and threats of unspeakable violence. There is a difference between objecting, however strongly, to something that offends us, and meting out an eye for an eye, or worse.

Vengeance is not justice. The way we respond to offence can reflect more poorly on ourselves than the original offender.

We don’t have to be this way.

We can disagree and still remain civil. We can register our objection to an offence, and still do so graciously. We must, if we want to live as a society that is mature in dealing with things we don’t like or agree with.

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Why did newspaper reject SKM’s statement on Amos Yee?

There are several troubling things about the way our local mainstream media is reporting the Amos Yee case.
First, there was the false impression given by a Straits Times report that Amos Yee’s mother had made a police report against her son.

And then there is the utter silence in the mainstream media of the vicious and vulgar threats made against Amos Yee, including one by a grassroots leader and a pro-PAP Facebook page.

And now, a third issue has emerged – the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) itself has said a local newspaper has refused  to publish or report its statement on Amos Yee.

related: Reaction of some is “more offensive, vulgar & threatening” than Amos Yee’s post

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What exactly was Amos Yee’s crime?

The Amos Yee saga has got me thinking about how we as a society deal with “non-mainstream individuals”. While I do not profess to agree with Yee’s erstwhile sentiments, I do wonder if we have overreacted to what is essentially an angry teenager’s rant about society.

Sure, Yee’s statements are annoying but when does annoying behaviour become a crime? Does that justify handcuffs and the weight of our court system on the paltry shoulders of a teen?

The charges against Yee are that he has contravened the Penal Code and the Protection from Harassment Act by insulting Christians in a video he uploaded shortly after the death of Mr Lee Kaun Yew. Based on what I have read about Yee’s video and conservations with people who have viewed the contents, I understand that it was perhaps more insulting to Mr Lee than to Christians per se. The comments about Christianity do not appear to be any more radical than old and often repeated criticisms against the church from international comedians and renowned writers. The late Sir Terry Pratchett has certainly said much worse without coming off badly.

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Amos Yee and the hypocrisy of some responsible speech advocates

In condemning Yee’s hate speech, some have done the opposite of what they claim to believe in. Instead of exercising responsible speech, a number of people and one radio station have irresponsibly made callous comments about Yee.

On Saturday, 4 April, ONE FM 91.3 posted an image on its Facebook page, taunting Yee with the prospect of a rough life in jail. The picture was captioned:

“Hi Amos!! Call Us when U arrive… Love, Your Boys…XOXO”. It was posted with the message: “Amos is gonna have some new friends soon.”
Needless to say, the post was not well received and it was quickly taken down. But it gives us an insight into how the radio station is willing to treat Yee callously —further damaging his reputation — just to capitalise on the public attention that has been showered on this case.

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Sexual and physical threats made against Amos Yee


16-year old Amos Yee, who is spending the weekend in remand, is again the target of online comments which apparently advocate violence against him.

In particular, sexual violence. Some of these comments rather gleefully and apparently hope Amos Yee would be raped in prison.

Amos Yee has been charged for three counts by the authorities for offending the religious sentiments of Christians, for an obscene cartoon on his blog, and for causing “distress” to some who had viewed the video Amos Yee made on the death of Singapore’s former prime minister, the late Lee Kuan Yew. The charge sheet seems to say this meant Amos Yee had harassed some of those distressed by the video.

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Letter to PA about threat made by alleged grassroots leader

Dear sir / ma’am, I am not sure if you are aware of the incident where a reported grassroots leader from the Telok Blangah area is said to have made a public threat of physical violence against a 16-year old boy who had created and posted an online video about Lee Kuan Yew and the Christian religion.

The grassroots leader, one Jason Tan, posted on Facebook the following threat:

“For me, I would cut his dick and put in his mouth for blemish Jesus Christ”.
Pls see here:
http://www.tremeritus.com/…/grassroots-leader-threatens-to…/
http://www.tremeritus.com/…/investigations-on-filipino-edz…/
http://www.tremeritus.com/…/grassroots-leader-removes-face…/

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Police report filed against grassroots leader who threatened Amos Yee online

A concerned Singaporean citizen, Mr Lee, has filed a police report against Jason Tan Kok Whee, believed to be a grassroots leader at Telok Blangah over a statement the latter made online directed at 16-year old Amos Yee.

In his police complaint, Mr Lee said that Mr Tan’s statement is a criminal threat to Yee. Mr Lee added, “I am seriously distressed by Jason Tan’s statement which bears the intention to harm Amos Yee physical and sexually. I have checked the penal code of Singapore and it seems that Jason Tan have breached the laws and should be liable to be arrested and be charged in the courts.”

Mr Lee also explained that Mr Tan has likely breached the law in making that comment against Yee, particularly penal code section 503*, 504, 507 and 508. Mr Lee added that Mr Tan should be punished according to the penal code section 506**.

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To the 20 plus who made police reports against Amos Yee

I wish I knew who you were. I know the name of one of you, a 52-year-old lawyer called Chia Boon Teck, and that’s only because the press interviewed him. This Mr Chia had earlier written to the Straits Times, saying that:

“I have heard many disrespectful jokes and opinions regarding Mr Lee Kuan Yew over the past few weeks.

With his death, let all Singaporeans stop tolerating such disrespectful comments made against Mr Lee and take the individuals who make them to task, by raising the issue with the relevant authorities or the individuals’ respective professional or governing bodies.”

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What Amos Yee is going through is far bigger than just one boy
Reuters/REUTERS - Amos Yee eats a banana as he arrives with his father to the State Courts for a pre-trial conference in Singapore April 17, 2015. The Singaporean has been charged with harassment and insulting a religious group for comments he made on social media about former premier Lee Kuan Yew and Christians soon after Lee's death, authorities said on March 31, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su 

And that brings me to yet another issue: how do we, as Singaporeans, react to things that we don’t like? Do we walk away? Do we engage each other to debate our perspectives? Are we willing to admit the existence of views we don’t like – even views we find abhorrent – because we believe in bigger principles of freedom and expression?


Or do we just stamp our feet and appeal to authorities to remove what we don’t like? Do we prioritise our desire to never be challenged or offended above someone else’s right to speak his or her mind? From Amos’ case – judging by the vindictiveness of some adults in wanting to see a kid go down – it appears that despite 50 years of education, progress and development, we’re still in the latter category. Decades of nation-building have not taught us to engage and to talk, only to appeal to authority to fix things that are hard for us to take. Years of education and exposure to the wider world have not taught us to respond with grace to things that we strongly disagree with; we still insist that everyone conform to a narrow band of opinion and feeling, that there are “right” ways to think, “right” ways to speak, “right” ways to act.

If this is true, then we have far bigger problems than Amos Yee.

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What is Amos Yee’s problem? Ours, actually

By now, it would be completely understandable to find Amos Yee’s antics tiresome. Even the strongest advocates for free speech has to admit that banging your head against a brick wall a second time, when the first has already given you a nasty bruise, is really not the smartest thing to do.

Amos’s latest romp saw him uploading the same video that won him his sedition charge to his blog, in a bid to raise funds for his legal fees. This was in flagrant violation of court orders for him not to upload anything. And to cap it, he arrives in court eating a banana. He has since updated his blog with a new fund-raiser notification, sans said video. The sensible, or wish-he-was-sensible, might ask, was it that difficult for him to do so in the first place?

Did Amos cared that he violated court orders? Perhaps at his age he does not know the implications of his actions. Perhaps he did not have good advise, particularly the legal advise that he clearly and desperately needs. Perhaps we can excuse him for being a child. But none of it takes away the pain and fear of his parents, who would likely be vexed at the slippery slope he is on. No amount of bravado chest-thumping, of declaring Amos’s innocence, takes away the desire for his parents to make the safer choice for him, even if that choice is not agreeable with our good senses or desires.

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 Lawyers On The Defensive 

The advice given in the common proverb is: "never look a gift horse in the mouth". Simply, when given a horse, it would be bad manners to inspect the horse's mouth to see if it has bad teeth. It is rude to wish for more by assessing its value.
While we are all eternally grateful when three lawyers came forward to act pro bono for a little boy clamped in hand cuffs and ankle shackles, their long winded press statement is fast providing fodder for conspiracy theorists across the island. Lawyers are supposed to sally forth with a vigorous defence, not throw their clients under the bus before court is even convened. The horseshit is embedded in paragraph nine:

"9. We would state categorically that we – the Defence Counsel – disapprove of what Amos Yee has posted."
The elements for the done deal are clearly spelled out in 10(d): "To advise him on the sentencing options including those that specifically deal with young offenders."

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Amos Yee bailed out by counsellor; gets 3 lawyers

AMOS Yee left remand at Changi Prison, where he spent the last four nights, after a family and youth counsellor posted the 16-year-old's $20,000 bail yesterday.

The teenager, whose online rant against Christianity landed him in trouble, smiled and waved to cameras as he walked out of the State Courts at 7pm with his mother by his side, and his father following some distance behind.

Just an hour before that, he was escorted to the bail centre in handcuffs and leg shackles.

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PRESS STATEMENT BY DODWELL & CO ISSUED ON 21 APRIL 2015

 

AMOS YEE'S LAWYERS EXPLAIN WHY THEY STEPPED FORWARD TO ACT FOR HIM
  • 1. We, the lawyers acting for Amos Yee Pang Sang (“Amos Yee”), issue this statement to explain the reasons behind our coming forward to act for him.
  • 2. The Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules (the “PCR”) lay down fundamental obligations of an Advocate and Solicitor, and in particular, the following two obligations -
  • a. First, to maintain the Rule of Law and assist in the administration of justice [Rule 2(2)(a)] and;
  • b. Second, to facilitate access to justice by members of the public [Rule 2(2)(d)].
  • 3. We – Counsel for the Defence – acting pro bono in the present case firmly believe that we are serving both fundamental obligations in acting for Amos Yee.
  • 4. First, as officers of the Court, the Defence Counsel will assist the court in coming to its fair and just decision in this matter.
  • 5. Second, the fundamental tenet of access to justice is enhanced if any person – including a 16-year-old accused of criminal offences – is represented by lawyers, instead of being left to navigate the criminal justice system without legal representation.
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Amos Yee has been bailed out by a counsellor

The 16-year-old had been in remand since last Friday as his parents did not post bail for him

Amos Yee has been bailed out by family and youth counsellor Mr Vincent Law on Tuesday evening, reported TheStraits Times.

Mr Law, 51, said: "I'm a Christian and it seems that the charge said that he made disparaging remarks against Christianity. I'm a Christian and I'm stepping up to say that I'm not offended."

The counsellor added that he hopes to counsel the teenager.
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Release Amos Yee from your anger

As Singaporeans, we are thankful for the laws of our land and trust in our courts. Our peace and freedoms in Singapore attest to that.


In regard to Amos Yee:
  • We are not offended by Amos Yee's statements.
  • His opinions about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ neither threaten our faith nor diminish our love for Him.
  • Please release Amos Yee from your anger.
  • We forgive him and desire he have a full life of contribution to his community ahead of him.
 A reminder to my Christian brothers and sisters:
Those in our faith have a keen understanding for what it means to be on the wrong side of righteousness, we know we receive God's love through no merit of our own.
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NETIZEN PETITIONS SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT TO RELEASE AMOS YEE
In a twist to the Amos Yee saga, Christian netizen Wally Tham has created a petition to ask the Singapore Government to release Amos Yee. According to Wally, he says that he is not offended by Amos Yee's statements and asked that Amos be released. He reminded Christians to be more forgiving towards Amos despite his "ugly" words. 

The petition:
  • As Singaporeans, we are thankful for the laws of our land and trust in our courts. Our peace and freedoms in Singapore attest to that.
  • In regard to Amos Yee: We are not offended by Amos Yee's statements. His opinions about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ neither threaten our faith nor diminish our love for Him. Please release Amos Yee. We forgive him and desire he have a full life of contribution to his community ahead of him.
  • A reminder to my Christian brothers and sisters: Those in our faith has a keen understanding for what it means to be on the wrong side of righteousness, we know we receive God's love through no merit of our own. 
read more

related:
#freeAmosYee @ Hong Lim Park
The Amos Yee Saga
The Amos Yee affair
Amos Yee - Disagreeing graciously
Amos Yee - A Mother's Pain
Arrest of Amos Yee makes world news
13-year-old Amos Yee wins top film prizes
Convention on the Rights of the Child

Sunday, 26 April 2015

10 best bowls of pho in Singapore

Pho (pronounced "fuh") is the noodle soup from the streets of Vietnam that has everyone slurping. Up to last year, there were merely a handful of restaurants serving pho in Singapore. Today, there are over a dozen establishments, each serving their own style (Hanoi, Saigon, and a bit of their own) of this Vietnamese staple. We've round up the top pho bowls in Singapore for your slurping pleasure.

Long Phung

Nam Nam Noodle Bar

Pho4All

Pho 99 Vietnamese Delights

Mrs Pho

Pho Hoa

Pho Stop

So Pho

Viet Lang Restaurant

Viet Pho Restaurant

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Saturday, 25 April 2015

Convention on the Rights of the Child

Updated 4 Oct 2016: SENTENCING A TEENAGE BLOGGER TO JAIL SENDS WRONG MESSAGE TO YOUNG PEOPLE – UNITED NATIONS EXPERT WARNS

GENEVA (4 October 2016) – “The lesson that somebody can be thrown in jail for their speech is exactly the wrong kind of message that any government should be sending to anybody, but especially to young people,” the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, said today.

“The criminalisation of a broad range of legitimate, even if offensive, forms of expression is not the right tool for any State to pursue legitimate aims such as tolerance and the rights of others,” the expert said following the 29 September sentencing by a Singapore court teenage blogger Amos Yee to six weeks imprisonment for “wounding religious feelings”.

In a statement issued in August, Mr. Kaye noted that the international human rights law allows only serious and extreme instances of incitement to hatred to be prohibited as criminal offences, not other forms of expression, even if they are offensive, disturbing or shocking. “Threats of criminal action and lawsuits contribute to a culture of self-censorship, and hinder the development of an open and pluralistic environment where all forms of ideas and opinions should be debated and rebutted openly,” the Special Rapporteur highlighted.

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Teen blogger Amos Yee gets 6 weeks' jail and $2,000 fine for wounding religious feelings

Amos Yee was sentenced to six weeks' jail and a $2,000 fine in total for his eight charges which include wounding Muslim and/or Christian feelings. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Fifteen months after he was given a prison sentence for intending to wound religious feelings, teenage blogger Amos Yee on Thursday (Sept 29) was again given a jail term for the same crime.

The 17-year-old was sentenced to six weeks' jail and a $2,000 fine in total for 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 Yee is not lacking in his mental capacity to make rational choices in the way he conducts himself, adding that he has the capability to do good or harm with what he does and says.

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Is Amos Yee a child?
So, is he?
 
This question has been raised by some people because Amos Yee, the teenager who has been in the news for a video he posted about the late Lee Kuan Yew, is a mere 16-years old.
 
Still, he is being charged and tried as an adult, for offences under the sedition, harassment and obscenity laws.
 
But is someone of that age considered a child?
 
Well, it depends

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United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty

II. SCOPE AND APPLICATION OF THE RULES

11. For the purposes of the Rules, the following definitions should apply:

  • (a) A juvenile is every person under the age of 18. The age limit below which it should not be permitted to deprive a child of his or her liberty should be determined by law;
  • (b) The deprivation of liberty means any form of detention or imprisonment or the placement of a person in a public or private custodial setting, from which this person is not permitted to leave at will, by order of any judicial, administrative or other public authority.
12. The deprivation of liberty should be effected in conditions and circumstances which ensure respect for the human rights of juveniles. Juveniles detained in facilities should be guaranteed the benefit of meaningful activities and programmes which would serve to promote and sustain their health and self-respect, to foster their sense of responsibility and encourage those attitudes and skills that will assist them in developing their
potential as members of society.


13. Juveniles deprived of their liberty shall not for any reason related to their status be denied the civil, economic, political, social or cultural rights to which they are entitled under national or international law, and which are compatible with the deprivation of liberty.

III. JUVENILES UNDER ARREST OR AWAITING TRIAL

17. Juveniles who are detained under arrest or awaiting trial ("untried") are presumed innocent and shall be treated as such. Detention before trial shall be avoided to the extent possible and limited to exceptional circumstances. Therefore, all efforts shall be made to apply alternative measures. When preventive detention is nevertheless used, juvenile courts and investigative bodies shall give the highest priority to the most expeditious processing of such cases to ensure the shortest possible duration of detention. Untried detainees should be separated from convicted juveniles.

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OHCHR - Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989 entry into force 2 September 1990, in accordance with article 49

Article 1
For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.

Article 2
  1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
  2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members.
Article 3
1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

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Unicef - Convention on the Rights of the Child
FACT SHEET: A summary of the rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 1 (Definition of the child):
The Convention defines a 'child' as a person below the age of 18, unless the laws of a particular country set the legal age for adult hood younger. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, the monitoring body for the Convention, has encouraged States to review the age of majority if it is set below 18 and to increase the level of protection for all children under 18.

Article 2 (Non-discrimination):
 The Convention applies to all children, whatever their race, religion or abilities; whatever they think or say, whatever type of family they come from. It doesn’t matter where children live, what language they speak, what their parents do, whether they are boys or girls, what their culture is, whether they have a disability or whether they are rich or poor. No child should be treated unfairly on any basis.

Article 3 (Best interests of the child):
The best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them. All adults should do what is best for children. When adults make decisions, they should think about how their decisions will affect children. This particularly applies to budget, policy and law makers.

related: Reimagine The Future

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Amnesty International - Protect Children's Human Rights


On November 20, 1989, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a landmark for human rights. Here for the first time was a treaty that sought to address the particular needs of children and to set minimum standards for the protection of their rights. It is the first international treaty to guarantee civil and political rights as well as economic, social, and cultural rights.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely accepted human rights treaty - of all the United Nations member states, only the United States and Somalia have not ratified it.

One of the Convention's key strengths is that it recognizes that rights must be actively promoted if they are going to be enforced -- awareness isn't enough. Children's rights activists have a powerful tool for campaigning for the protection of children's human rights in the almost worldwide acceptance of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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Singapore Court System

The Singapore Court System consists of two tiers:
  1. State Courts
  2. Supreme Court
STATE COURTS
The District Courts and Magistrate Courts hear both civil and criminal cases.


Family Court
The Family Court deals with various family-related matters. One aspect it covers is maintenance orders. For example, if a husband neglects to maintain his wife, she can apply to the Family Court for an order that her husband makes monthly contributions to maintain her.

Coroner's Court
The Coroner's Court holds inquiries to ascertain the cause of a person's death and whether anyone is criminally responsible. Such inquiries are held when there is reason to suspect that a person has died in a sudden or unnatural manner, by violence, or when the cause of death is unknown and in situations where the law requires an inquiry.

Juvenile Court
The Juvenile Court deals with offences committed by persons below 16 years of age. The Juvenile Court is empowered with various options to deal with a juvenile offender, such as committing the offender to the care of a relative or other fit person, community service orders, probation orders, detention and reformative training. The Juvenile Court also deals with Beyond Parental Control cases.

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Children and Young Persons Act (CHAPTER 38)

An Act to provide for the welfare, care, protection and rehabilitation of children and young persons who are in need of such care, protection or rehabilitation, to regulate homes for children and young persons and to consolidate the law relating to children and young persons.
  • “child” means a person who is below the age of 14 years;
  • “juvenile” means a male or female person who is 7 years of age or above and below the age of 16 years;
  • “young person” means a person who is 14 years of age or above and below the age of 16 years
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PROTECTION OF CHILDREN IN SINGAPORE: AN OVERVIEW

DEFINITION OF THE CHILD
The age of majority applicable in Singapore is 21 years old as provided by common law. However, there are different definitions of “a child” stated in various legislations for specific purpose.

  • According to the Children and Young Person Act (CYPA) 2001, a “child” is a person below the age of 14. A “young person” means a person who is 14 years of age or above but below the age of 16 years. A “juvenile” means a male or female person who is 7 years of age or above but below the age of 16 years. The Employment Act adopts the same definitions as the CYPA for a “child” and a “young person”.
  • The Women’s Charter 1997 defines “a child” as a “child of the marriage who is below 21 years”, and a “minor” as “a person who is below the age of 21 years and who is not married, or a widower or a widow”. Under the Women’s Charter, any person who has carnal connection with a girl below the age of 16 years, except by way of marriage, is guilty of an offence. The Penal Code provides that an offence of statutory rape is made out if (among other things) a man has sexual intercourse with a girl even with her consent if she is below 14 years of age. This means that a “child” below 14 years old cannot legally consent to sexual intercourse.
  • The Smoking (Control of Advertisement and Sale of Tobacco) Act prohibits the sale or giving of tobacco products to persons under 18 years. Under the Custom (Liquor Licensing) Regulations, it is an offence for a licensee to permit a person under the age of 18 to consume alcoholic liquor at the licensed premises or for the person under 18 years to purchase alcoholic liquor.
In October 1995, Singapore became signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), pledging its commitment to help children when they are in an environment of abuse and neglect. The UNCRC defines a “child” as someone below the age of 18.

Regardless of how a “child” is defined, these laws are designed to promote and protect the best interests of the children, to punish those who victimise them, and to ensure appropriate treatment for their recovery and social integration

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Publishing Photo of Toa Payoh Vandals Violates The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child - Remy Choo Zheng Xi

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Singapore Teenagers Up Against The Law

The actions of 18-year-old Daryl Lim - who was on Monday (Apr 20) sentenced to 10 days of detention and 150 hours of community service for assaulting foreign workers with his friends - are “unacceptable” and “sickening”, said Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.

“To think that a young man who has benefited from the system can act with such cruelty, without compassion, without empathy, and without any kind of consideration,” he said on the sidelines of the 7th Meeting of Singapore Honorary-Consuls General.

It was previously reported that Daryl, an Institute of Technical Education student, and his friends had decided to practise their martial arts skills by assaulting foreign workers last September and October.

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