Amos Yee jailed 6 weeks, fined $2k

Yee (left) posted an expletive- laden video on the Internet which aimed to hurt the feelings of Muslims.
Yee (above) posted an expletive-laden video on the Internet which aimed to hurt the feelings of Muslims.

Four months after he was given a prison sentence for making remarks that were derogatory and offensive to Christians in an online video, teenage blogger Amos Yee posted an expletive-laden video on the Internet which aimed to hurt the feelings of Muslims.

Yesterday - 15 months after he was given the earlier four-week jail term - Yee was again sentenced to jail for wounding religious feelings.

The 17-year-old was given six weeks' jail and fined $2,000 in total for eight charges - two for failing to turn up at a police station and six for intending to wound the feelings of Muslims and/or Christians.

Principal District Judge Ong Hian Sun said he found Yee "not lacking in his mental capacity to make rational choices".

But the judge said: "(Yee) has, on several occasions, deliberately elected to do harm by using offensive and insulting words and profane gestures to hurt the feelings of Christians and Muslims. His contemptuous and irreverent remarks have the tendency to generate social unrest and undermine the religious harmony in our society."

If Yee does not pay his fine, he will have to spend another 10 days in jail. He will start his sentence on Oct 13.

The prosecution had sought six weeks' jail and a $2,000 fine in total, while Yee's lawyer had asked for four weeks' jail and a $1,000 fine, in default five days' jail.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Hon Yi said: "This case is about an accused person who, even after a previous brush with the law for a similar offence, deliberately upped the ante by escalating the offensiveness of the material which he created.

"In sentencing (Yee), this court should send a clear message that acts which impugn the racial and religious harmony of this country will not be tolerated."

Defence lawyer N. Kanagavijayan said: "(Yee) admits that he does not possess any religious, scholastic and/or intellectual ability to discuss religion.

"He admits that his contemptuous and vituperative language that he had used... shows his shallowness of his thoughts in respect of both Christianity and Islam."

On Wednesday, Yee pleaded guilty to three charges that he had originally denied. He uploaded a photo and two videos online, between April 17 and May 19, with the intention of wounding Muslim feelings.

The admission of guilt marked the end of his trial, which began last month on all eight charges. His defence had still to be called during the four-day trial.

Yee first admitted to two of the charges on the third day of the trial, on Aug 23. He had failed to show up at Jurong Police Division at 9am on Dec 14 last year, despite a police officer's notice. He also did not turn up at the same place at 9am on May 10, in spite of a magistrate's order.

He admitted to three more charges on the fourth day of the trial, on Aug 24. He had made one Facebook post and one blog post, which intended to wound Muslim feelings. He also admitted posting a video online, which intended to wound Christian feelings. These crimes were committed between November last year and April this year.

Yee first came to the attention of the authorities when he uploaded an expletive-laden video on March 27 last year, four days after the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Yee later also posted an obscene image on his blog.

He was convicted on May 12 last year, and sentenced on July 6 to four weeks' jail. He was released the same day as the punishment was backdated to include his time in remand. He had spent about 50 days in prison after repeatedly breaching bail conditions.

For his two counts of failing to turn up at Jurong Police Division, Yee could have been jailed for one month and fined $1,500 per charge.

For his six counts of intending to wound religious feelings, he could have been jailed for three years and fined per charge.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2016, with the headline 'Amos Yee jailed 6 weeks, fined $2k'. Print Edition | Subscribe