Amos Yee and the intolerance of the hysterical minority

Instead, my concern is a wider one of how the government decide what is allowable and what is not, in the area of things which are deemed to be sensitive for some religions and their adherents.

This relates, of course, to the first charge levelled at Amos Yee, as mentioned above.

Amos Yee’s allegedly offensive video, in which he ranted and criticised the late Lee Kuan Yew, and compared him to Jesus Christ unfavourably, was an 8-minute film uploaded onto Youtube.

Here are some facts about it:

Total number of words spoken: 1,202

Number of times “Jesus” was mentioned: 1

Number of times “Christian(s)” was mentioned: 2

Length of video: 519 seconds (8:39 minutes)

Length of time Amos used to compare Lee Kuan Yew to Jesus Christ: 64 seconds

The comparison of Lee Kuan Yew to Jesus Christ was, admittedly, not very flattering, for either gentlemen.

But is it so serious that such extreme measures is necessary to be taken against a 16-year old?

To arrest him at his home (I am told there were 8 police officers there to execute that order), handcuff him in front of his parents and grandparents, and then to set bail for him, and later to handcuff him again in court and keep him in remand.

And on the day when Mr Law bailed him out, the news reported:

“At about 6.10pm, Yee was brought to the bail centre, still handcuffed and with ankle restraints, accompanied by more than five officers.”

One of the conditions of his bail, which also included Amos Yee reporting to the Bedok police station everyday at 9am, was that the video in question be set to private as well.

All this make it clear that Amos Yee’s supposed “offence” is rather serious – “attacking Christianity”, and “offending Christians”, according to a Straits Times’ report on Wednesday (22 April).

However, are Christians really offended by the rants of a teenager whom few had heard of before this incident?

“I’m a Christian and I’m stepping up to say that I’m not offended,” Mr Law told the media outside the courthouse.

Mr Law is a Christian.

Indeed, another Christian started an online petition to urge fellow Singaporeans to “release Amos Yee from your anger”, referring to the vitriolic attacks levelled at the teenager from some quarters, which include threats and intimidation of a sexual and physical nature directed at the boy.

“We are not offended by Amos Yee’s statements,” Wally Tham, the petition creator, said.

“His opinions about our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ neither threaten our faith nor diminish our love for Him.”

The petition has garnered close to 4,000 supportive signatures since it was started a few days ago.

What Mr Law and Mr Tham say reflect what the Government itself had said in the past – that Christians here are not intolerant.

Andrew Loh

yee

Christians are offended? Really?

Vincent Law, a family and youth counsellor, has stepped forward and bailed out 16-year old Amos Yee on Tuesday.

Yee was being held by the authorities because no one had posted the S$20,000 bail for him over the weekend.

He had been in remand for 4 days, and is being charged for three alleged offences which are (quoting local news reports):

  • Allegedly causing matter to be seen and heard by five victims by creating a video clip containing remarks against Christianity with the deliberate intention of wounding the feelings of Christians.
  • Allegedly transmitting electronically an image showing obscene figures, believed to be a cartoon or caricature of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Mr Lee in an unflattering sexual depiction.
  • Allegedly making an insulting video clip online containing remarks about Mr Lee which was intended to be heard and seen by persons likely to be…

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What Amos Yee is going through is far bigger than just one boy

By Kirsten Han | SingaporeScene

Kirsten Han is a Singaporean blogger, journalist and filmmaker. She is also involved in the We Believe in Second Chances campaign for the abolishment of the death penalty. A social media junkie, she tweets at @kixes. The views expressed are her own.

I arrived at the State Courts on Friday just in time to see journalists pouring out of the courtroom, following a Deputy Public Prosecutor into a media huddle. He was going through the conditions of Amos Yee’s bail, now transferred from police to court bail. His parents had not yet decided whether they were going to post bail this time.

Friends who had been in the courtroom told me that Amos had been whisked out of his closed pre-trial conference in handcuffs. The whole thing had been so quick that he hadn’t even had a chance to look up and see that people he knew were there for moral support.
The major events have since been reported in the media. Amos is spending the weekend in remand. No one has yet come forward to bail him out. The bail conditions are difficult for a 16-year-old: reporting to a police station every morning, undertaking not to post or distribute any content online for as long as his case is ongoing (which could be some time). It’s a challenge not just for the child, but also for the bailor.
Everyone has an opinion on this case – everyone has something to say about Amos, his parents, his video and blog posts. There are rumours and speculation everywhere, and the case has become, pretty much inevitably, politicised.

Yet there are many separate issues at play here, and in the drama and emotive reactions to a potty-mouthed 16-year-old’s video, many of these issues have not received the examination they deserve. The implications go way beyond Amos Yee – there are aspects of this case that concern all Singaporeans.

One might find Amos offensive. One might find him annoying, rude, arrogant, vulgar and disrespectful. One might thoroughly dislike him. One might actively choose to avoid him if caught in a social situation together. And that’s perfectly fine. No one is required to like Amos.

But all of that is completely separate from the fact that in Singapore, you can be reported and arrested for being offensive and annoying and rude and vulgar and disrespectful. That you can be charged for harassment despite the fact that no one was forced to watch your YouTube video (everyone who was distressed by the video could have, at any point, closed the browser and gone on with his or her life). That it can be a criminal offence, in Singapore, to say things that people don’t like to hear.

There are implications for freedom of speech here that we as a society have yet to really question and explore.

On top of that, this case has thrown up points of concern related to the way we treat youths. Although the United Nations considers those below 18 to be children, and therefore in need of protection even when they have fallen foul of the law, Singapore sees children as those below 14, and those above 14 and below 16 as young persons. As a 16-year-old, Amos is therefore old enough to be tried as an adult, slapped in handcuffs and hustled away. He is now in remand – probably not in a juvenile section – and might have to sit in there for some time.

Apart from the problems of using handcuffs on minors, is this really a proportional response to a YouTube video? Can we really, hand on heart, look at this treatment of a teenager and say that this is a rational, mature reaction?

And that brings me to yet another issue: how do we, as Singaporeans, react to things that we don’t like? Do we walk away? Do we engage each other to debate our perspectives? Are we willing to admit the existence of views we don’t like – even views we find abhorrent – because we believe in bigger principles of freedom and expression?

Or do we just stamp our feet and appeal to authorities to remove what we don’t like? Do we prioritise our desire to never be challenged or offended above someone else’s right to speak his or her mind?

From Amos’ case – judging by the vindictiveness of some adults in wanting to see a kid go down – it appears that despite 50 years of education, progress and development, we’re still in the latter category. Decades of nation-building have not taught us to engage and to talk, only to appeal to authority to fix things that are hard for us to take. Years of education and exposure to the wider world have not taught us to respond with grace to things that we strongly disagree with; we still insist that everyone conform to a narrow band of opinion and feeling, that there are “right” ways to think, “right” ways to speak, “right” ways to act.
If this is true, then we have far bigger problems than Amos Yee

.https://sg.news.yahoo.com/blogs/singaporescene/what-amos-yee-is-going-through-is-far-bigger-than-101656795.html

Appeal to International Children Agencies to Denounce Political Persecution of Amos Yee

Appeal to International Children Agencies to Denounce Political Persecution of Amos Yee.

“On 29 March 2015, a 16-year-old boy Amos Yee was arrested and charged on 31 March 2015, just two days later, after he made a video which criticised the late first prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. Amos also spoke about the high income inequality in Singapore and attributed it to the first prime minister as well.

Amos was charged with three charges. For one of them, the first prime minister’s supporters said that the video “contained remarks about Mr Lee Kuan Yew which was intended to be heard and seen by persons likely to be distressed”.

More importantly, Amos was also charged as an adult in the State Court. He was not charged in the Juvenile Court for children.

After Amos was charged, he was put on bail for $20,000. The terms of his bail are excessive. He is not allowed to post, upload, distribute or by an other means cause to be made visible or available any comment or content, whether directly or indirectly, to any social media or online service or website.

In addition, he is now being held in remand, and has been in prison for four days now.

I would like to highlight that Singapore is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Under the convention, Singapore is required to look for other measures “without resorting to judicial proceedings,… such as care, guidance and supervision orders; counselling; probation; foster care; education and vocational training programmes and other alternatives to institutional care shall be available to ensure that children are dealt with in a manner appropriate to their well-being and proportionate both to their circumstances and the offence.”

However, after Amos was arrested, he was immediately charged. He was not given any other recourse.

On top of that, under the convention, Amos should have been “treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child’s respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s reintegration and the child’s assuming a constructive role in society.”

However, a blanket restriction was imposed on Amos’s freedom of speech and expression and he has been imprisoned for four days in jail now.”