Singaporean blogger Amos Yee Pang Sang turned up at the courts today at 9.30AM, flashing the middle finger to reporters who hurried to catch pictures of him.
Singaporeans attending the court session today were visibly fewer in number. Only 20 seats were filled, as opposed to the whole gallery and the long snaking queues in the past. Present in the gallery was activist blogger Roy Ngerng. Former bailor Vincent Law whom Yee had accused of molesting him was not present at the hearing.
Last month, Yee was found guilty of making offensive remarks against Christians and uploading an obscene image. He was in court today to hear about the judge’s decision on sending him for reformative training.
Yee was initially put under consideration for probation, which would have left him without a criminal record, but at an urgent hearing last Wednesday, the court ruled out a probation sentence after Yee’s probation officer said that Yee did not want to do probation and failed to turn up for scheduled meetings. The prosecution thus recommended reformative training, which they argue will have a more rehabilitative effect than jail.
At the hearing, the judge ruled that Amos Yee would be remanded 3 more weeks while a reformative training report is sent in to evaluate Yee’s suitability for RTC.
The next hearing will be at 9.30am on June 23.
On his Facebook page, although Yee had initially set his postings about Lee Kuan Yew to private, Yee appears to have re-uploaded the postings last night. The image showing LKY and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in a sexual position is visible on his Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amos-Yee/286808914699053.
Yee initially privatised both the video and the blog post with the image after District Judge Jasvender Kaur ordered him to do so, as a consequence of the convictions.
But the prosecution noticed on May 21 that the offending video and post had been made public again.
“Me taking down my video is just candy for the Singapore government, candy that I’m not willing to give,” he wrote.
The judge had initially called for a probation suitability report, which would have left the teenager without a criminal record.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay said a jail term or a fine would have no rehabilitative effect on Yee.
He argued that a stint at the Reformative Training Centre (RTC) would “provide the necessary structure and discipline which Yee’s present circumstances clearly lack, and will be conducive to his rehabilitation.”
Reformative training is a rehabilitative sentencing option for young offenders aged under 21 who are found to be unsuitable for probation.
A stint at the RTC lasts between 18 and 30 months, and includes structured rehabilitation programmes, foot drills, and counselling. Offenders will not have contact with adult prison inmates.