TRS editor's application to visit ailing father in Australia approved; out on $60K bail

Ai Takagi (left) and Yang Kaiheng (right), the two editors behind socio-political website The Real Singapore, arriving at the court with their lawyer Choo Zheng Xi (centre) on May 4, 2015. Mr Yang, 26, has applied to return to Australia as his father
Ai Takagi (left) and Yang Kaiheng (right), the two editors behind socio-political website The Real Singapore, arriving at the court with their lawyer Choo Zheng Xi (centre) on May 4, 2015. Mr Yang, 26, has applied to return to Australia as his father is seriously ill after suffering a stroke on May Day. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW 

SINGAPORE – Yang Kaiheng, one of the editors of socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS), has been given the nod to return to Australia to visit his ailing father who suffered a major stroke on May 1.

But the 26-year-old has to comply with new conditions, including an additional bail amount of $40,000, on top of the previous $20,000.

He also has to give a complete itinerary and full details of where he is, and remain contactable while in Australia.

He was given permission to leave Singapore from Monday to May 17, a day before his pre-trial conference, and surrender his passport upon his return. Another bail condition is that he has to give an update of his 55-year-old father’s condition every three days, starting Tuesday, to his counsel, Mr Choo Zheng Xi.

The prosecution withdrew its objection on Monday afternoon for Yang to leave the country after it has verified with the Australian hospital that Yang’s father had suffered a stroke and is in intensive care.

They argued that Yang is a flight risk as he is a permanent resident in Australia and a director of a company set up with his fiancee, who is an Australian citizen.

On Monday afternoon, the court heard Yang’s fiancee, Ai Takagi, 22, who is also a co-accused, has offered to comply with the request of Media Development Authority (MDA) to provide information on TRS’ operations, such as its finances. MDA had ordered TRS editors on Sunday to shut down the website and had their licence suspended to operate.

The site was also ordered to be taken offline following “objectionable’’ material published.

Yang and Takagi have been charged with seven counts of sedition and one of failing to produce documents related to TRS to a police officer. They are accused of publishing articles on TRS that tended to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between difference classes of population here, including Singaporeans and Filipinos and Singaporeans and Chinese nationals.

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