Monday, 6 July 2015

#freeAmosYee @ Hong Lim Park


The Courts have sentenced teenage YouTuber Amos Yee Pang Sang to 4 weeks imprisonment, backdating it to 2 June 2015. He was found guilty of two charges, the first for making offensive or wounding remarks against Christianity and the second for circulating obscene imagery.

Yee's lawyer Alfred Dodwell confirmed that his client wants to appeal against the conviction. Dodwell said: "Let's not run away with the idea that just because he's remorseful and stuff, that is in relation to the social context. Whether this was a crime or not, still remains a question we want to determine in High Court."

He also added that Yee is "is happy to cooperate now" and will start undergoing counselling sessions from next week. A private doctor has agreed to take Yee under his care and devise mentorship programmes for Yee and his family. The IMH doctor's report indicated that Yee admitted to his guilt and promised not to reoffend as he realised that his actions were against the law and could disrupt social harmony. Apparently, Yee also admitted to using his intelligence in the wrong ways. In view of Yee's "seismic shift" in attitude from "unremorseful to remorseful", the Prosecution asked only for one day's jail for Yee.


read more

Singapore teen in anti-Lee video walks free
Rights groups criticised the city-state for arresting Yee and sympathisers staged rallies in Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan to demand the boy’s freedom ahead of the sentencing

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, told AFP he saw the backdated sentence as a “face-saving way for Singapore to say they were not wrong for prosecuting him when in fact the whole world community knows that they were”.

A spokeswoman for Singapore’s Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) rebutted criticism from Robertson and other international rights activists that the city-state was curtailing freedom of speech by prosecuting Yee.

“This case is not about freedom of expression. It is about the abuse of such freedom. Unbridled speech without limits does not exist in any known society,” she told AFP.

read more

Amos walks out free; but wants to appeal conviction

AMOS Yee, aged 16 going on 17, has got what he wanted: A jail term. Four weeks. Because he’s been in remand for over 50 days, he walked out of court a free man/boy. But the chapter isn’t closed; Amos intends to appeal his conviction, according to his lawyer.

Earlier today, Justice Jasvender Kaur decided that:
  • a. Amos didn’t need a Medical Treatment Order which would compel him to receive medical help because the psychiatric assessment was that he wasn’t suffering from any mental disorder. He had been remanded at the Institute of Mental Health over the past two weeks for doctors to decide if he had autism spectrum disorder, which is a “development disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavourial challenges”.
  • b. He didn’t need to go to a Reformative Training Centre, a boot camp of sorts, because he seemed to have undergone a “seismic change” in attitude. He was remorseful for his actions.
The judge also took his young age and lack of maturity into account when she sentenced him to one week imprisonment for the circulation of obscene material, and three weeks for making offensive or wounding remarks against Christianity. Amos was prosecuted as an adult because he had crossed his 16th birthday. Civil rights activists here and groups such as Amnesty International have questioned the need for court action against a youth whom they say was merely exercising his right to free speech.

read more

Amos Yee Is Free, But Wants To Appeal His Conviction Because He Never Committed A Crime

The Amos Yee saga has taken another plot twist. At around 3pm today (6 July), half an hour into Amos’ hearing, Amos was to have received a backdated jail sentence of 4 weeks.

A backdated jail sentence meant that the jail sentence of 4 weeks starts from the time he had first served in remand: 2 June. Amos is now free to walk out of court a free boy blogger.

Yet, according to Amos’s lawyer, Alfred Dodwell, the 16-year-old will appeal against his conviction.

read more

4 weeks jail for Amos Yee
Amos Yee has been sentenced to four weeks imprisonment, for charges relating to creating a video criticizing Lee Kuan Yew

He will serve one week for posting obscene materials and three weeks for wounding the religious feelings of Christian in his video calling Lee Kuan Yew a “horrible person”, and the sentenced is to be served consecutively.

The sentence has also been backdated from 2 June, which means Yee technically goes free today.

Yee also has to go for mandatory counselling, which the teenager has agreed to.

read more

Teen blogger Amos Yee gets backdated four weeks’ jail, walks away a free boy again
Amos Yee has received a four-week jail term — one week for an obscene image he posted on his blog of the late leaders Lee Kuan Yew and Margaret Thatcher, and three weeks for his remarks made against Christians in a video clip criticising the late Lee

This has been backdated to June 2, so in effect, he walks free.

Supporters gathered in the packed court room burst into applause, while Yee’s mother Mary Toh looked visibly happy after District Judge Jasvender Kaur read out his sentence.

In submissions from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) posted online, it was revealed that the report by Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist Cai Yi Ming found that the teenager has no mental disorder.

read more

'Free Amos Yee' event at Hong Lim Park
Organiser Jolovan Wham (centre) and participants during a protest to free blogger Amos Yee, at Hong Lim Park, on July 5, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

Some 500 people turned up at a Hong Lim Park event yesterday to rally for teenage blogger Amos Yee's release.

Five people spoke at the protest, which was organised by Community Action Network (CAN), a local non-governmental organisation.

CAN member Jolovan Wham, one of the speakers, said: "We're taking a stand against the Government's crackdown against Amos. Expressing a point of view is not wrong, unless you're doing it to incite violence. Amos' words did not cause any physical harm.

Protesters in Hong Kong demand release of Singaporean teen Amos Yee
Effigies of Singapore's late prime minister Lee Kuan Yew are burned. Photo: Nora Tam

Some 50 people from different civic and political groups have protested outside the commercial building in Admiralty where the Singapore Consulate is located, demanding the immediate release of teen blogger Amos Yee, who had been convicted on charges related to posting a video attacking the late prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Their campaign came a day ahead of the expected sentencing of Yee, 16, who is now remanded in a mental health institution after his conviction. Holding banners and placards that read "Dissident is not Demented" and "Freedom of Speech should not be infringed", they also burned effigies of Lee.

Representatives from different groups took turns to express their anger over Yee's "highly disturbing" treatment.
read more

Hundreds gather at Hong Lim Park for #FreeAmosYee
500 people at Hong Lim Park to call for Amos Yee’s release (Photo: Terry Xu, TOC)

An estimated 300 to 500 people gathered at Hong Lim Park on a blazing hot Sunday afternoon to protest the treatment of 16-year-old teen blogger Amos Yee, and to rally for the freedom of expression.

“In the last few years we have seen an unprecedented crackdown on freedom of expression in Singapore,” said organiser Jolovan Wham, a member of the Community Action Network (CAN), a group of Singaporeans in support of free speech. Contempt of court cases such as those against cartoonist Leslie Chew and filmmaker Lynn Lee were mentioned, as well as the harassment suit against The Online Citizen and the defamation case against blogger Roy Ngerng, were given as examples.

Wham quickly drew the focus of the protest to that of free speech and proportionate treatment, saying that CAN had organised the event to oppose and criticise “what the state is doing to a 16-year-old child.”
“If the government can do this to Amos Yee, they can do this to other 16-year-olds. They can do this to other Singapore citizens,” he said.

Singapore activists condemn treatment of anti-Lee teen
Amos Yee was convicted in May on two criminal charges - wounding religious feelings in an expletive-laden video comparing Lee Kuan Yew to Jesus, and circulating an obscene cartoon of the former Prime Minister, who died in March

Prominent Singaporean intellectuals, artistes and activists on Saturday criticised the government’s “harsh” treatment of a teenage boy behind online attacks on the late former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the former leader’s son, the 77 signatories said they were “aware of the negative aspects” of 16-year-old Amos Yee’s pronouncements in a YouTube video and on his blog.

“Nonetheless, we are troubled by the State’s harsh reactions to them, including the prosecution’s request for reformative training lasting at least 18 months,” said the letter, which was also sent to the attorney-general, education and interior ministers. 

Effigies of PM Lee, Mr Lee set alight in HK protests

Protesters burning pictures of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Mr Lee Hsien Loong outside the Singapore Consulate in Hong Kong yesterday. Photo: Reuters

In a show of support outside Singapore for remanded teenage blogger Amos Yee, some 50 Hong Kong activists protested outside the Singapore Consulate in the Chinese-ruled city yesterday demanding his immediate release.

Controversially, the protestors also burned effigies and pictures of Singapore’s founding prime minister, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Pending Amos’ expected sentencing today, they brandished placards and banners saying: “Dissident is not Demented” and “Freedom of Speech should not be infringed”, according to images posted online by local media.

“We are destroying a boy”
Jolene Tan at Hong Lim Park, (Image – Terry Xu)

Some of you have probably seen that Amos Yee’s mother, Mary Toh, recently posted on Facebook making a heartfelt apology to her son.

It’s really not her who should be apologising to Amos Yee.

We – us, our state, our society – we are destroying a boy.

related: Amos Yee sent to hospital

Justice can only be served by releasing Amos Yee

The Singapore government has demonstrated a shameful disregard for freedom of expression and the rights of the child in the way it has treated Amos Yee. By holding him in remand and other forms of detention for over 50 days, the authorities have seriously abused his rights for simply voicing political opinions not popular with the government - and calling this a ‘crime’ when his actions should never have been criminalised in the first place.

If Amos Yee is sentenced to additional time in a prison or reform training centre, this will be yet another incredible injustice to him and mark a further decline in Singapore’s already poor record of respecting free expression.

The powers-that-be in Singapore should recognise that justice can only be served by immediately and unconditionally releasing Amos Yee.

Amos Yee trial plagued by last-minute hospitalisation, growing protests
Jolene Tan, writer and gender equality advocate, speaks at a protest at Hong Lim Park on Jul 5 calling for the Singapore government to free teenage blogger Amos Yee (Photo: Calum Stuart)

Teenager Amos Yee Pang Sang is due to be sentenced today (Jul 6) against a backdrop of last-minute hopitalisation, a protest at Hong Lim Park and growing calls for the Singapore government to free Yee.

Yee was briefly admitted to hospital late last night due to low blood sugar levels, before being released back to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) a few hours later. Yee has been remanded at IMH for two weeks as a report emerges to find out if the teenager is suitable to undergo a mandatory treatment order in lieu of reformative training.

This was after a reformative training suitability report found Yee to possibly be suffering from autism-spectrum disorder.

Hundreds show up for Free Amos Yee protest, but youth noticeably absent

Four speakers took to the stage to show why they are against the persecution of the teen blogger. The speakers were MARUAH’s Braema Mathi, lawyer and political detainee Teo Soh Lung, women’s rights activist Jolene Tan and Pastor Miak Siew of Free Community Church.

Unlike the recent Hong Kong student activists who urged for Amos Yee’s release, the Free Amos Yee protest had a much older gathering. The large turnout mainly consisted of middle-aged to senior folks.

Previtha Dawn, a 19-year-old NUS student, and Daven Lim Huan Hock, also from NUS, said that they came to the protest because they believed that Amos Yee should not be in prison. Daven added that this was also an unofficial meeting for a skeptics group that they were trying to set up at NUS. Previtha commented that there seemed to be very few young people at the event however.

read more

Hong Lim Park event on Sunday to rally for Amos Yee’s release

A protest will be held in Hong Lim Park this coming Sunday, 4 pm, to ask for the release of Amos Yee, a 16-year-old blogger who is currently being held in the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). The Sunday’s event page says:
“For producing a YouTube video deemed offensive to some people, 16-year-old Amos Yee has been handcuffed, arrested, charged, tried, imprisoned, shackled to his bed, and placed in a mental institution. He has also been assaulted in public and threatened with sexual abuse.”
This protest is organised by Community Action Network (CAN), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Singapore concerned about freedom of expression, and civil and political rights.

The spokesperson for the group, Jolovan Wham, said that the group believes that it is wrong to detain, arrest and torture the 16-year-old teenager for saying things which people don’t agree with.

Penang: Solidarity Gathering for Amos Yee 檳城:聲援余澎杉

16-year-old teenage blogger Amos Yee posted a video, titled Lee Kuan Yew is Finally Dead! – becoming one of the few Singaporean voices openly criticising Lee’s legacy. Yee was then found guilty on May 12 of uploading an obscene image and making remarks intending to hurt the feelings of Christians in the video

He was remanded for three weeks after District Judge Jasvender Kaur called for a report to assess if he is suitable for reformative training. Later, Yee was sent to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to undergo psychiatric examination to see if he is suitable for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO).

Few days ago, Bangkok-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) called for the immediate release of Amos Yee and also urged the government of Singapore to review the 16-year-old’s conviction. In conjunction with International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, NGOs around the world organised rally to protest against the continued detention of Amos Yee.

Now, Penang civil society groups would also like to remind that Singapore is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and we hope the Singapore authorities can respect the regulations of the CRC and release Amos Yee immediately.

2 groups in M’sia and Hong Kong to call for Amos Yee’s release
Amos Yee surrounded by media when he left state court. Photo – Straits Times

Two events are being scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday in Malaysia and in Hong Kong in  support of Singapore teenager, Amos Yee.

Civil society groups in Penang, Malaysia, are organising a rally in Penang Square on Wednesday, 1 July, at 6pm “to remind that Singapore is a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).”

“In conjunction of International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, NGOs around the world organised rally to protest against the continued detention of Amos Yee,” the group said on its Facebook page.


Release Singaporean teen blogger Amos Yee, Hong Kong student group Scholarism urges
Amos Yee leaves the State Courts with his mother after his trial in Singapore on May 12, 2015. Amos Yee has been remanded in a mental institution. Photo: Reuters

Hong Kong student group Scholarism is urging Singapore to release teen blogger Amos Yee, who was last month convicted for posting a controversial video attacking late prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

The group condemned the Singaporean government for remanding Yee, 16, in a mental health institution after his conviction. It said this showed the Lion City was disrespectful of children’s rights and dissenting voices.

“The Singaporean government detained a teenager because of one video. This only shows Singapore, a so-called modernised society, fails to allow dissidents and different voices,” it said.

Hong Kong students protest near Singapore consulate urging Amos Yee's release 

University students in Hong Kong protested near the Singapore consulate in Hong Kong on Tuesday (Jun 30), urging the Singapore government to release teen blogger Amos Yee.

According to Hong Kong media reports, about 50 students from the University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Lingnan and Hong Kong Polytechnic were part of the protest. A letter of protest from the students was handed to Mr Howard Fu, Vice Consul-General of Singapore to Hong Kong.

Student activist group Scholarism, which also took part in the protest, published on its website a post titled “In Defence of Children’s Rights Release Amos Yee NOW!”. The post, dated Jun 29, condemned the Singapore Government for “violating” Yee’s rights and demanded his immediate release.

Taiwanese protestors hold demonstration in support of Amos Yee in front of Singapore embassy

Hot on the heels of a recent court hearing that saw infamous blogger and YouTube personality Amos Yee remanded in the Institute of Mental Health pending a psychiatric report over his autism-spectrum disorder, a group of people in Taiwan have started a small demonstration in support of the teenager.

Now streaming on live video platform Livestream, it seems that the demonstration is being held in front of the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei, the Singapore embassy in Taiwan.

The group of people arrived armed with placards bearing "Free Amos" and "Sickgapore", along with some folks donning paper masks of Amos Yee and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. And of course, the ever ubiquitous horse mask was present at the rally too.

read more 


The Singapore authorities must immediately and unconditionally release teenager Amos Yee, who is facing a minimum of 18 months of reformative training after criticising the late Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew online. Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression. As he is a minor, authorities must also ensure that his treatment is consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Singapore is a State party.

Amos Yee was found guilty on 12 May by a Singapore court for “transmitting obscene materials”, under penal code section 292(1)(a) which is punishable by a fine, and for violating penal code section 298, “uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious or racial feelings of any person”, punishable by three years in prison and a fine.

He is currently in remand at Block 7 of the Institute of Mental Health in Buangkok, Singapore. He was first arrested on 29 March after he uploaded a YouTube video entitled “Lee Kuan Yew is dead”, referring to the late Singapore Prime Minister, and for posting an image featuring the superimposed photos of Lee Kuan Yew and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on the heads of two cartoon figures having sex.

read more

Free 16-year-old prisoner of conscience Amos Yee

The Singapore authorities must immediately and unconditionally release teenager Amos Yee, who is facing a minimum of 18 months of reformative training after criticising the late Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew online.

Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience, held solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression.

As he is a minor, authorities must also ensure that his treatment is consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Singapore is a State party.

read more

UN Urges Singapore To Release 16-Year-Old Blogger Amos Yee
Singaporean teenager Amos Yee was found guilty May 12 over an expletive-laden YouTube video attacking the city-state’s late founding father Lee Kuan Yew and Christianity, in a case activists said amounted to censorship. AFP PHOTO / ROSLAN RAHMAN

16-year-old Singaporean blogger Amos Yee is facing up to three years in prison for uploading remarks and images critical of the late Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore.

Now, the UN Human Rights Office calls for the immediate release of Amos Yee in line with its commitment under the UN Convention on the Rights of Child.

Amos was remanded on Jun. 2 for three weeks after he refused probation and is currently detained in Changi prison where, according to his lawyer, his physical and psychological status is deteriorating, the United Nations Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) said in a statement.

read more 

S’pore authorities unnecessarily harsh with Amos Yee

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has called for the release of 16-year-old Amos Yee from his incarceration, saying that the Singaporean Government’s treatment of him was disproportionate and unnecessarily harsh.

In a statement today, Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said that Yee’s conviction raised “profound questions on the authorities’ narrow tolerance towards critical views and rhetoric commitment to democracy.

“The Singapore Government’s decision to charge and convict Amos Yee under Section 292(1) and Section 298 of the penal code seems disproportionate and unnecessarily harsh,” said Sevan.

read more

Amos Yee’s mother calls for son’s release from IMH 

The mother of 16-year old video blogger, Amos Yee, says her son, who is being held at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), has not been eating well the past two days.

Mdm Mary Toh, who visits her son three times a week, also says Amos Yee is suffering mental stress from the environment he is in.

The teenager is being remanded at block 7 of the institution, which is believed to be the remand ward for those with suspected mental illness and the criminally insane.

read more

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.

The court’s quagmire: How to deal with Amos Yee?
Singapore teen blogger Amos Yee, center, speaks to reporters while leaving the Subordinate Courts after being released on bail, Tuesday. Pic: AP

Having pronounced Amos Yee guilty, the court is now faced with the unenviable task of determining how to rehabilitate him. What should it do with the recalcitrant teenage blogger who insists on being a martyr?

Should it send him to the much-feared Reformative Training Centre (RTC), it would have to do so for at least 18 months. This would far exceed the length of custodial sentences that are typically meted out to persons guilty of charges of similar severity. (An individual was sentenced to 4 weeks imprisonment for possessing 209 obscene magazines for sale while Andrew Kiong was sentenced to 2 weeks imprisonment for having printed 16 anti-Muslim cards and leaving them on cars which he believed belonged to Muslims.)

If it decides to impose a punitive sentence, it would mean that it considers the rehabilitation of Amos unnecessary or unimportant. Given his rejection of probation, his re-uploading of his offending video and image, and given the remarks he has recently made online, rehabilitation (at least in the eyes of the law) is necessary. It is also as important as the laws’ objectives are important.

Free-speech group says detention of Amos Yee ‘does nothing to help Singapore evolve as a country’

A group of independent writers have launched a campaign calling for the release of Amos Yee, a vlogger arrested for posting a video that compared the late Lee Kuan Yew to historical villains such as Adolf Hitler, and for offending Christians.

The free-speech group, called the Community Action Network, has started a petition on to free the 16 year-old, who has been charged with sedition and harassment. Among the founders of the group is Roy Ngerng, a blogger sued by the prime minister of Singapore in October last year for defamation.

The measures taken against Yee the group describes as “disproportionate” and “heavy-handed.

Exonerate 16-Year-Old Blogger

The court has provided no adequate justification for Yee's further detention and has ordered forced psychiatric tests. He should be immediately released," Robertson said. "The ruling leaves in the balance whether Yee will be subject to 18 months of juvenile detention."

(Bangkok) – Singapore authorities should exonerate a 16-year-old convicted for a blog and video post about the death of Singapore’s founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, Human Rights Watch said today. Amos Yee Pang Sang has a sentencing hearing on June 23, 2015, and faces up to three years in prison or 18 months in a juvenile detention center. On May 12 a court found Yee guilty of uploading an allegedly obscene image and making remarks deemed “insulting to religion” in a video.

“Nothing that Amos Yee said or posted should ever have been considered criminal – much less merit incarceration,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “The dismal state of Singapore’s respect for free expression can be seen in the decision to impose the criminal justice system on outspoken 16-year-olds.”

STOP BEING A BRUTE: S'pore's slammed for heavy hand on 16-yr-old LKY critic, Amos Yee

Singapore authorities should exonerate a 16-year-old convicted for a blog and video post about the death of Singapore’s founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, Human Rights Watch said today.

Amos Yee Pang Sang has a sentencing hearing on June 23, 2015, and faces up to three years in prison or 18 months in a juvenile detention center. On May 12 a court found Yee guilty of uploading an allegedly obscene image and making remarks deemed “insulting to religion” in a video.

“Nothing that Amos Yee said or posted should ever have been considered criminal – much less merit incarceration,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The dismal state of Singapore’s respect for free expression can be seen in the decision to impose the criminal justice system on outspoken 16-year-olds.”

Amos Yee, Free Speech and Lessons from Singapore

Lee Kuan Yew, the iconic founding father of Singapore died on March 23, 2015. Thousands lined the funeral procession to pay their respects to the man who had created one of the least corrupt, richest, and most technologically advanced nations in Asia and the world. For many across the world who saw the images on their screens, this was perhaps the first time they’d really been exposed to Singapore.

We struggle to comprehend what Lee Kuan Yew was to Singapore: He was neither a military leader in the vein of Bolivar or Washington, but instead emulated their impact on their respective societies in his incarnation as the ultimate technocrat. Lee had a vision for the island and an incredible successful one at that. Even after stepping down as leader he was a powerful and ever present force in Singaporean politics for much of the small city state’s existence. His son Lee Hsien Loong is after all the current prime minister, although it is a testament to Singapore that unlike other political family dynasties in Asia, the younger Lee earned his position on merit.

The death of Lee Kuan Yew, though obviously a major event, was not the only story to come out of Singapore that day. Many international new outlets also picked up the arrest of a 16-year-old boy named Amos Yee. 

read more

Amos Yee: YouTube Star, Teen-Ager, Dissident

The most winsome political dissident you’ve never heard of, Amos Yee, is a Singaporean, a YouTube personality, and an activist who takes his cause more seriously than he takes himself. He has hair like a haystack in late afternoon and the nervous timing of a standup nebbish. He curses as imaginatively as a Scotsman in an Iannucci script, and, despite his perfect vision, he wears glasses on camera, for style. He’s a humanist—a close student of street idiom and indie film—but he has a data wonk’s appreciation for comparative statistics and a wariness of received wisdom. On concerns such as gay rights, income inequality, and free speech, he’s outspoken on the right side of history. He is seventeen years old.

He is also, in his home of Singapore, an alleged criminal for what he’s said. On Friday, March 27th, Yee uploaded a video that criticized Lee Kuan Yew, the recently deceased founding father of postwar Singapore, and also took a swipe at organized Christianity. By the following Monday, after formal complaints from some fellow Singaporeans, Yee had been arrested under Section 298 of the country’s penal code, which forbids the uttering of words that might hurt the religious feelings of any person, and the Protection from Harassment Act, a recent law ostensibly set up to guard against cyberbullying.

His blog, where he had posted an illustration of Lee and Margaret Thatcher in flagrante, was censored; it earned Yee an obscenity charge under Penal Code Section 292. He was released on a bail of twenty thousand Singapore dollars, and is currently awaiting hearings. He has been ordered not to post anything more online. If he’s found guilty, he could face a fine of five thousand Singapore dollars and three years in prison.

read more

How the Death of a Dictator Created the World’s Youngest Prisoner of Conscience

“We either believe in democracy or we don’t. If we do, then, we must say categorically, without  qualification, that no restraint from the any democratic processes, other than by the ordinary law of the land, should be allowed… If you believe in democracy, you must believe in it unconditionally. If you believe that men should be free, then, they should have the right of free association, of free speech, of free publication. Then, no law should permit those democratic processes to be set at nought, and no excuse, whether of security, should allow a government to be deterred from doing what it knows to be right, and what it must know to be right.”
-Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore Legislative Assembly, Debates, April 27th 1955
On March 23rd, 2015, lying in a hospital bed that undoubtedly overlooked the city-state he himself had crafted, Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore, died of severe pneumonia at the age of 91. When news of his passing came to light, there was no shortage of praise from leaders across the globe. President Obama referred to him as “a giant of history”, Prime Minister David Cameron called him “one of the world’s foremost statesmen”, Russian President Vladimir Putin put out a statement saying Lee “earned his compatriots’ sincere love and respect”, and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger revealed in a piece for the Washington Post that Lee “was a close personal friend, a fact that I consider one of the great blessings of my life. A world needing to distil order from incipient chaos will miss his leadership.”

And while the Singaporean government, during their seven days of national mourning, relished in and amplified the condolences of the world’s power elite, there too was the unsolicited voice of a 16-year-old Singaporean teenager, which in the coming weeks the Singaporean government would try desperately to quash.

“Lee Kuan Yew is dead, finally,” said Amos Yee, a 16 year old Singaporean and self-proclaimed activist in a YouTube video four days after the death of LKY, “Why hasn’t anyone said ‘fuck yeah, the guy is dead, Lee Kuan Yew was a horrible person’ because everyone is scared. Everyone is afraid that if they say something like that they might get into trouble, which was primarily the impact of his legacy. But I’m not afraid.” Yee went on to describe how Lee Kuan Yew tendency to sue, imprison, and bankrupt those who were critical of him his ruling party, who had enjoyed a monopoly on power since the founding of Singapore. Amos continued, “I think the biggest flaw of LKY as a leader to our nation, is that he honestly thought that money and status equated to happiness. And his failure to understand how false that was really showed, leading us to be one of the richest countries in the world, and one of the most depressed.” Amos concludes by saying “Lee Kuan Yew, an overrated, over-glorified person, a dictator, and exceptionally Machiavellian in nature. With his death and the upcoming elections next year, there is a high chance, that us citizens of Singapore [can] finally change things for the better. Let’s all hope for change. For good change, for every possible kind…”

read more
13-year-old Amos Yee wins top film prizes
Convention on the Rights of the Child