Rants of a Weird Little Bird

Random stuff involving myself…and people around me. Hello, and goodbye. :-)

Archive for August 2016

Amos Yee – The Case for Prosecuting Him

with one comment

It’s sad to see how people who are (rightly or wrongly) prejudiced against the Singapore government have spun Amos Yee’s case as that of political persecution.

This is a simple case of person-breaks-law-so-he-is-charged-in-court. (Whether you agree with the law or the harshness of the law is another matter)

His age is also not an excuse. A lot of people cite the Convention on the Rights of the Child as a reason why Amos Yee should not be prosecuted. Yes, in future, the classification of a child may be reviewed by the government, but it hasn’t happened. So, as of today, Amos Yee is not going to be classified as a child because the Singapore government defines children to be 14 and below. So Amos Yee can be tried as an adult. Full stop.

Chapter 28, Part III YOUTH COURT, Paragraph 33 of Singapore Statutes Online says:

(3) Where a charge is made jointly against a child or young person and a person who has attained the age of 16 years, the charge shall be heard by a court of appropriate jurisdiction other than a Youth Court.

(5) A Youth Court shall have jurisdiction to try all offences which, but for subsections (1) and (2), would be triable only by a Magistrate’s Court, a District Court or the High Court.

(6) A person who has attained the age of 16 years on the date of commencement of the hearing of the charge shall not be tried for any offence by a Youth Court.

So in the eyes of the law, Amos Yee (born in 1998) is an adult, not a child. Full stop.

And refer to this link: https://app.msf.gov.sg/…/Singapore-as-Signatory-to-the-UNCR…

“The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as below 18 years of age. Under the Children and Young Persons Act, a child or young person is a person aged below 16 years.

Notwithstanding the different legal age definitions, Singapore is committed to protecting and rehabilitating children and young persons, including those above 16 years old…For older youth who commit an offence, there are services and programmes in place that take a restorative instead of a punitive approach. These include court diversionary measures that redirect first-time young offenders up to 19 years who commit minor offences to voluntary rehabilitation programmes, and alternative sentencing options such as Probation and Community Service orders.”

Also, a more appropriate legal (non-)defence for Amos Yee is that of “Defense of infancy”, or more commonly known as “Age of Criminal Responsibility”. In Singapore, you can be charged in court for committing a crime at the age of 8 years old.

(But before you start sending an outraged letter to the UN about the lack of respect for children’s rights, please educate yourself on the term “common law” first. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defense_of_infancy)

Why Amos Yee was not considered for these “court diversionary measures” was most likely because he flagrantly violated bail conditions by putting up content during his trial. http://www.channelnewsasia.com/…/amos-yee-post…/1816214.html . Simple common sense: If you don’t respect court orders, the judge will not be that sympathetic towards you. In Amos’s case, he wanted to test the judge’s patience and the judge duly obliged by leaving little room for leniency.

Moreover, his parents aren’t exactly destitute – why should lawyers step in to offer pro bono legal help to him (again)? Are you sure no lawyer would step in to help simply because this case involves an anti-PAP advocate, given the right amount of money? I doubt it. Even Davinder Singh, the well-known Senior Counsel who often represents PAP government leaders in defamation suits against their critics, has been involved in a lawsuit which might have potentially put the Singapore government in a bad light had his clients won. http://commentarysingapore.blogspot.sg/…/singapore-judiciar…

The simplest and most boringly imaginable explanation is that Amos Yee’s supporters, friends, family members (or himself) are not willing to pay for legal help. Notice that during his first arrest, his parents didn’t even bail him out. This shows that even his parents have decided to let the law deal with him and have washed their hands off him. If you don’t want to listen to us, let the law deal with you, that’s what they seem to be saying to him.

As for his supporters, well, Vincent Law did bail him out – and what happened to him? Amos Yee called him a molester.

No one is saying that the most obnoxious people don’t deserve legal representation. Of course they do. Yet, notice that even opposition politicians who are lawyers haven’t stepped up to defend him – and there are many of them. If it’s really political persecution, these lawyers have got a LOT of political mileage to win by taking up his case! But they haven’t. Why? Because of these reasons:

1. It isn’t about political persecution in the first place;
2. Lawyers find the accused a difficult client; or
3. His parents are going to let him face the music on his own.

What people can (and should) have asked the following parties (but I haven’t seen any yet) –

a) Which lawyers have you asked for legal representation?
b) Did you offer to pay these lawyers in full?
c) Did they tell you why they don’t want to represent him?
d) Do you have any e-mails to proof that these lawyers have turned you down?

Finally, in conclusion,

  1. Singapore is not unique in trying people of Amos Yee’s age in court – plenty of so-called first world countries do that too.
  2. The only way to argue against his prosecution is by arguing against the law for which he was charged. If you feel that people should not be prosecuted for making offensive remarks about religion, then by all means, go ahead and do so.
  3. If you are against Amos Yee’s treatment, you can go donate money to his legal fund (and run the risk of having him spend it on his video games and laptops); or if you’re a lawyer, go and represent him pro bono (like what Alfred Dodwell did) or for a fee.
  4. Amos Yee’s situation is as such not because of political persecution, but because of his own deeds. He flagrantly disregards court orders, doesn’t want to work, doesn’t want to go to school, has only a secondary school education, has not done National Service, refuses to listen to his parents, puts up rude videos criticising people’s religious beliefs, has a track record of lying and does not show gratitude to help offered to him.
  5. Please think twice before you actually support his causes, no matter what side of the political spectrum you lie in.




Written by aweirdlittlebird

August 21, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized