Teenage blogger Amos Yee Pang Sang will be sentenced today (6th July). He will find out whether he will undergo a stint at the the Reformative Training Center (RTC) for juveniles involved in serious crimes, or a mandatory treatment at the Institute of Mental Health. Doctors had previously diagnosed Amos as suffering from autism spectrum disorder.
But drama had already unfolded, with public protests being held yesterday in Hong Kong and in the island at Hong Lim park. Close to 500 people attended the Hong Lim protest to demand that the Singapore government free Amos Yee unconditionally.
Meanwhile, a stunning turn of events unfolded in Yee's cell when the teenage blogger, in a rumored attempt to conduct a hunger strike, ended up needing medical attention because his blood sugar levels had fallen drastically. He was treated at a nearby hospital and certified fit to return 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.
Yesterday's Hong Lim protest saw numerous activists stepping up to condemn the government's imprisonment of Amos Yee.
“We came together to protest what the government is doing to Amos Yee, and to take a stand on freedom of expression,” said Jolovan Wham, a civil activist, who is also the brains behind Community Action Network (CAN), the organizers in charge of the Hong Lim protest. “In the last few years, I think we have seen an unprecedented crackdown on freedom of expression in Singapore."
“What human purpose is served when we know the criminal justice system has enormous consequences for anyone caught up in it, when and how can we justify it’s use?” said Jolene Tan, writer and gender equality advocate, a speaker at the event. “There is nothing more ordinary in the world than teenagers goading authority and throwing in a few tasteless sexual metaphors.”
Although the protest crowd was made up of mostly middle-aged men with no youth in attendance, as was noted by some members of the audience, the mood was clearly somber and focused on Amos Yee's plight. Those in attendance lamented that Amos would probably be used as an example for local dissenters.
According to a member of the audience: “I’m just trying to be there to support Amos Yee, because I just felt that what’s going on at the moment isn’t right. I just hope that tomorrow’s sentence will be light, or hopefully he’ll be free.”