ROY NGERNG: AMOS’S LAWYERS PUT UP STRONG DEFENCE

Hello everyone, this was what happened in court for the second day of Amos’s trial today.

I got to the State Court at about 1pm today even though Amos’s trial was supposed to start at 2.30pm. But by then, there was already about 20 people in the queue.

By the time Amos’s trial was to start, there were already about 80 people in the queue. According to someone who has gone to several trials previously, he has never seen so many people come to attend a hearing before.

Many Singaporeans are concerned about Amos’s situation.

The trial started late again. It only started at about 3pm. (Yesterday, it started after 1 hour 30 minutes.)

When Amos walked into the courtroom, he was once again bounded in chains and shackles. He still wore a shirt with the words, “Prisoner”, on his back. Amos walked with a limp and was dragging his feet. According to his mom when Amos spoke to her yesterday, the chains were very heavy and were very painful as the chains were eating into his legs.

Amos’s lawyers started their defence first. Ervin Tan was the first to defend Amos. He explained that on the charge of Section 292 of obscenity, a person cannot be charged on a mere assertion.

Obscenity can only be ruled when a person who is likely to see an image might be depraved or corrupted. In other words, a person who sees an image should want to engage in a sexual act or that it must lead to sexual fantasies and cause a person to be “tempted” to have sex.

Mind you, this charge is in relation to the image of the drawing which featured Lee Kuan Yew and Margaret Thatcher.

So, erm. Well, you get the picture.

Ervin did not say this, but it is clear that what could be said is that the picture clearly does not encourage anyone to want to have sex, and cannot thus be viewed as obscene and Amos should therefore be acquitted of the charge.

Ervin also argued that when it comes to the Internet, a person would have to take certain steps to want to search for something. So in order to be able to view the image, they would have to do a search of “Amos Yee”, for example. Just because an image is online does not mean that it can be viewed by anyone, Ervin defended by saying. Ervin also explained that it is this group of people who would take such steps who are likely to be able to view the image and who would know what they are searching for and what to expect.

Ervin thus argued that it is unlikely that people who viewed the image would find it “obscene”.

On the contrary he explained that it could be possible that a youth who viewed the image might become political and learn to critique political leaders. Ervin stopped short of going further. The suggestion is that Amos is being persecuted for the picture not so much because it is “obscene” but because it contained an image of Lee Kuan Yew.

Ervin also explained that if someone did not like the pictures, they could use other tools, such as defamation and the protection against harrassment act if they wanted to take action. However, he pointed out that the two people in the image are deceased, which also explained why the AGC had stood down the charge against Amos under the Protection against Harassment Act, in relation to Lee Kuan Yew, he added.

By still charging Amos under Section 292 for obscenity, this is an abuse of the law and extending the use of the law, Ervin posits. He explained that if parliament finds that there is a new mischief of offending the dead, then it is up to parliament to pass a new law.

Amos’s second lawyer, Chong Jia Hao, was the next to defend Amos on the charge of Section 298 which is about the “deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of Christians in general”.

Jia Hao defended Amos by saying that there is no evidence that Amos’s words have wounded the feelings of Christians. He argued that Amos’s main purpose is to critique Lee Kuan Yew and even then, those are just his opinions.

Jia Hao also explained that if Amos’s comment on Christianity is a crime, then many thousands of people and books on the shelves would all have also committed crimes.

Jia Hao also explained that Amos’s critique about Lee Kuan Yew is really aimed at Lee Kuan Yew’s followers. Amos’s critique, Jia Hao explained, is that the followers should follow “sound logic or knowledge about him that is grounded in reality,” where otherwise they would be “completely delusional and ignorant”, which Amos had said.

Jia Hao added that religion teaches tolerance.

He pointed out that there have been many Christians who have also said that their feelings have not been hurt. One example is Amos’s bailer, Vincent Law, had said that he is Christian but is not hurt. Also, there has been a petition going around and which has been signed by nearly 4,000 people, many Christians, who have asked for Amos to be released.

Jia Hao also revealed that there have been 32 police reports made against Amos but none of them have taken to the stand as witnesses.

In fact, only one police report has been made available and even then, this report makes mention of the “founding father”. He also spoke of another report by Grace Tan which only made mention of Lee Kuan Yew and Margaret Thatcher.

What evidence does the AGC have that these people were wounded by what Amos said, Jia Hao asked. The AGC does not have evidence that Christians were hurt. There were no witnesses. There were no police reports.

Jia Hao also said that the court must consider the impact of the freedom of speech which is protected by the Singapore constitution and cannot just look at the interests of an overly-sensitive group of people. (He should be referring to the supporters of Lee Kuan Yew?) He added that if Amos is found guilty, it is a curtailing of Amos’s right and that of a significant proportion of Singaporeans.

Jia Hao then said that it is clear that Amos made the video because he wants to state his views on Lee Kuan Yew. He said that Amos had realised that Lee Kuan Yew is a “horrible” person after reading up and decided to make the video as it would opened up critical channels for discussion. It would also encourage people to make fun of their political leaders and result in positive change, Amos had hoped.

Amos’s intentions of making his video is thus noble because he wants progress for Singaporeans and to encourage discussion on Lee Kuan Yew, Jia Hao explained.

“Even the title is directed at Lee Kuan Yew: “Lee Kuan Yew Is Finally Dead!”, Jia Hao said.

“If he wants to hurt Christians, he would have titled the video, “Jesus Is Finally Dead!”, Jia Hao explained.

Amos’s aim is to really challenge the reputation that Lee Kuan Yew generally enjoys, Jia Hao added. “It is patently clear that the centre of the critique is around Lee Kuan Yew,” Jia Hao concluded.

Moreover, he pointed out that the AGC only took issue with 10 sentences in the video, which lasted a much longer 8 minutes and thus in view of the title and the content of the video, there is clearly no intention to hurt Christians. It is really about Lee Kuan Yew.

Finally, Jia Hao also said that people can choose to ignore the video if they don’t like it, but they had chosen to watch it.

The highlight of the trial was when Amos’s third lawyer, Alfred Dodwell, who has been on the forefront on his case, spoke.

Alfred wanted to submit an evidence but the AGC did not allow him to do so.

Alfred that this evidence is “critical”.

However, AGC rebutted and said that the evidence should not be submitted as it can be taken out of context (as if the AGC has been taking everything in their context – NOT!).

Finally, after a back and forth with the AGC, the judge finally allowed Alfred to submit the evidence.

The audience roared in response and clapped at the judge’s decision.

Alfred then read out the evidence. It was a recorded statement from Amos where he had stated that he had no intentions of wounding the religious feelings of Christians and his intention was to really critique Lee Kuan Yew.

Amos should thus be acquitted.

This piece of evidence is indeed crucial. Alfred explained that it would “vindicate” Amos.

Now, why did the AGC not allow this evidence to be submitted? Why did the AGC want to block it?

When it came to the AGC’s turn to put out their case, I was actually expecting a proper argument. But it was very poor, and I am being objective here.

AGC insisted that Amos’s intention of the image is to corrupt minds (meaning, to make them want to have sex). To remind you, this is the image of Lee Kuan Yew and Margaret Thatcher.

AGC also said that one day, 200 years from now, the image might not be “obscene” but for now, it is obscene for the person on the MRT train or coffee shop.

To be honest, I could not follow AGC’s arguments. AGC just kept harping on one point – that Amos has the intentions to hurt Christians, and then they kept trying to rehash their arguments just to justify their point.

AGC then said that Section 298 is meant to protect the social fabric of Singapore, and then once again repeated that Amos has the intentions to hurt Christians.

In summary, AGC made a very weak case. The guy just kept saying that Amos has the intentions. Actually, I don’t have to tell you that the arguments are weak. None of the media controlled by the PAP fully reported about the case, because there is very little material that they can report on from the AGC side and they wouldn’t want to report on the arguments brought up by Amos (because the media is controlled by the PAP), which you can see is quite substantial and well thought out.

Finally, the AGC concluded with the most out-of-the-world statement ever. This one takes the cake.

He said: “You know it is obscene when you see it.”

And with that, AGC concluded their case. I just rolled back and laughed. You call this a conclusion?

Honestly, if the court were to rule against Amos, I would be disappointed. Amos’s lawyers made a very strong case and the AGC simply didn’t make good.

At one point, Amos left the court and returned. And when he walked back in, in chains, his supporters outside court see him and started cheered and clapping for him. The door was open and Amos could see them. They then chanted, “Famous Amos”.

Amos looked surprised but I thought there was a look of relief on his face. I don’t think it’s a good experience for a child to be remanded in prison. It has been 14 days that he has been inside, in total now.

I hope this ends quickly. Today when we saw Amos, he looks a lot more tired. He looked paler. Amos still tried to smile at us when he saw us but you could see that he is exhausted.

Amos is only a 16-year-old boy. He is being unfairly persecuted by the PAP. And he has to be let go. There is no reason why Amos should be charged as he has not done anything wrong.

I told The Straits Times something along these lines: “Amos did not do anything wrong. Amos is being unfairly persecuted by the state because the laws are unfair. And if the laws are unfair, it is the state which should review the laws and not continue to use the unfair laws to persecute him (and Singaporeans).” But they did not want to report on this comment.

In the end, it is clear and sundry to all Singaporeans and to the world that Amos’s persecution is political and he should not have been charged at all for what he did, not least because there have been many PAP members and supporters who have done and said worse things than he has but nothing has happened to them.

Tomorrow is my birthday. All I wish for is that Amos will be freed and all the charges dropped against him, and that we can start a new beginning for Singapore. This was what Amos wanted and this is what we need for Singapore.

All the best to Amos. Please pray for him.

The judge will pass her judgement on Amos on next Tuesday.

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