Be more patient and tolerant of others

Singapore and the United States have different political, social, legal and justice systems.

Naturally, Singapore does not have the same "standards". There is no need "to agree to disagree" or to be "outraged" by the US court's assertion (Law society disagrees with findings of US judge, and Outrageous to say that Amos Yee was persecuted; Forum Online, both published on March 28).

In approving Mr Amos Yee's application for asylum, US judge Samuel Cole was satisfied that Mr Yee was persecuted not prosecuted.

Persecution takes many forms.Some members of the public responded to Mr Yee's hate speech with hate statements as well as calls for his prosecution. His prosecutions and imprisonment were well publicised. He was also slapped in public. Torment, abuse and alienation constitute persecution.

The Law Society of Singapore and the Association of Criminal Lawyers of Singapore contended that Mr Yee was legally represented and afforded the due process of law.

This is not the issue, and is expected of a First World justice system. I do not think the US judge had glossed over this critical fact. In fact, I think it was not a critical factor in the judge's decision.

Barely out of his teens, Mr Yee typifies many young people - gung-ho, rebellious, self-opinionated, defiant and anti-establishment.

It was unfortunate that the way he tried to get his opinions across was repugnant and derogatory, and was not tolerated here.

The US judge was obviously mistaken to conclude that Mr Yee was politically persecuted.

He was sympathetic that Mr Yee was criminalised for offences that do not exist in the US and are untenable under its Constitution. It does not mean that he condoned Mr Yee's hate speech.

It is regrettable that Mr Yee has to leave his country of birth. Sadly, there are those among us who say he has no place here.

George Kuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2017, with the headline 'Be more patient and tolerant of others'. Print Edition | Subscribe