A FILIPINO nurse who allegedly made anti-Singaporean comments on Facebook was yesterday charged not only with sedition, but also with lying to the police.
Ello Ed Mundsel Bello had allegedly told the authorities that his Facebook account had been hacked and that he was not behind the comments which were posted in January.
When asked why it took some time before Ello was charged, a spokesman for the Attorney-General's Chambers pointed to the alleged fake information given by the 28-year-old.
The Straits Times understands that investigations took three months, and involved digital forensic analysis of computing devices, examination of server logs, and the recording of detailed statements from relevant witnesses.
In his Jan 2 post, Ello allegedly called Singaporeans "loosers" (sic) and vowed to "evict" them from their country. He prayed that "disators" (disasters) would strike Singapore and "more Singaporeans will die" and he would celebrate. The post ended with "Pinoy better and stronger than Stinkaporeans".
He also allegedly commented in another post that evening that he would "kick out all Singaporeans" and this country will be a new "filipino state".
According to the charges, the posts could promote feelings of ill will and hostility between Singaporeans and Filipinos here.
The day after the posts, on Jan 3, he told police at Chong Pang Neighbourhood Police Post that he did not put up the comments.
On Jan 4, he repeated his claims to a senior police officer at Ang Mo Kio Police Division headquarters, adding that his Facebook account had been hacked. The next day, he allegedly lied to the same officer again.
On Jan 9, he was fired by Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
Asked yesterday by District Judge Ronald Gwee if he was going to engage a lawyer, Ello said he would. Bail of $10,000 was offered and his passport has been impounded. A pre-trial conference has been set for April 21.
Police said they take a stern view of acts that could threaten social harmony in Singapore.
Furthermore, giving false information to the police ties up valuable resources which could have been deployed to deal with other crimes.
"It is a serious offence and those who provide false information will face the full weight of the law."
Under the Sedition Act, anyone found guilty of promoting feelings of ill will and hostility between different races or classes of the population shall be fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed for up to three years.
Providing false information to a public servant is punishable with a jail term of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $5,000 per charge.