Despite facing a possible jail term of up to 21 years and $35,000 in fines, Australian Ms Ai Takagi, the administrator of ‘The Real Singapore’ (TRS) has vowed to keep the website going in a city state that she said “stifles dissenting voices”.
The 22-year-old final year law student at the University of Queensland and her boyfriend, 26-year-old Singaporean Robin Yang Kai Heng were each slapped with 7 charges of Sedition and and 1 count of failing to comply with a police order on Tuesday (14th April).
Speaking to ABC Radio on Thursday (16th April), Ms Takagi said the website she developed with Mr Yang was meeting an untapped demand for everyday people in Singapore to vent their “opinions and frustrations” outside a mainstream media that was “heavily censored by the government”.
The mainstream media for itself is heavily censored by the government and then you won’t find dissenting voices and everything … looks very happy in the mainstream media.
That’s one of the main reasons websites like the Real Singapore exist – because people feel that their voices are not actually being heard, which is why so many people are willing to send their opinions and complaints in because there isn’t the space for that in the mainstream media.
Many of the contributions to the Real Singapore related to complaints about how certain policies have affected people’s lives. A lot of times it’s to do with their jobs.
Definitely you can see that people are not really happy with a lot of the policies the government is putting out here…it’s obviously not everybody but it’s a section of the population that are not heard.
Making a comparison between MSM in Singapore and Australia, Ms Takagi said that newspapers (in Singapore) tended to follow government announcements of policy by selectively interviewing people who were enthusiastically supportive without “the balance of [other] people saying this might be a problem”.
She described the Australian media landscape as “slightly more balanced”, with more outlets to represent competing views.
When asked about the charges she face, Ms Takagi said she believes the court is fair.
I believe that the court is fair so I believe that it shouldn’t be [the maximum penalty] based on the severity of the offences.
Obviously this is stressing out everyone involved but I’m staying positive.
Ms Tagaki is currently out on a $20,000 bail and the case will be mentioned again on 22nd May 2015.
She is represented by the law firm of Peter Low LLC.