Couple behind The Real Singapore charged with sedition

SINGAPORE - A couple were charged with seven counts of sedition and another for failing to produce documents to a police officer on Tuesday.

Yang Kaiheng, 26, and his girlfriend Ai Takagi, 22, allegedly published seditious articles on sociopolitical website The Real Singapore (TRS) between October 2013 and March this year, which promoted ill will and hostility between different classes of the Singapore population.

On Feb 4 this year, the website published an article ostensibly obtained from a contributor claiming that during Thaipusam festivities, an incident was sparked by a Filipino who complained to police about noise from drummers.

The named contributor later commented on another site that allegations that a Filipino family was involved were untrue.

Investigations were conducted and the contributor interviewed.

Takagi, who is Australian Japanese, and Yang have been identified as being jointly responsible for the creation, development, maintenance and content on TRS.

They face two charges each in respect of the article published.

They are accused of falsely asserting that a Filipino family had caused the fracas between police and participants during the Thaipusam procession on Feb 3.

Another charge was over an article titled "Exposed: Puppy Murderer Works in Healthcare Industry, Her Company Hires Mostly Foreigners".

The article claimed that one company "hires more foreigners than locals", and questioned whether it had "given fair consideration to Singaporeans".

In it, Takagi is alleged to have written a note about the piece that she falsely attributed to one "Farhan".

The couple also allegedly failed to produce documents such as revenue information pertaining to advertising on TRS on March 26.

Bail of $20,000 each was offered.

The couple are represented by Mr Choo Zheng Xi and Mr Raj Mannar.

A pre-trial conference is scheduled for May 12.

Under the Sedition Act, the maximum punishment is a $5,000 fine and three years' jail on each charge.