TRS sedition trial: Charges faced by couple

Ai Takagi (left) and Yang Kai Heng arriving at the State Courts for a pre-trial conference on May 18, 2015.
Ai Takagi (left) and Yang Kai Heng arriving at the State Courts for a pre-trial conference on May 18, 2015. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - The trial of the husband-and-wife team accused of sedition, over articles on a now-defunct sociopolitical website, began on Monday (March 7).

Australian Ai Takagi, 23, who is charged with seven counts of sedition for articles published by The Real Singapore (TRS), is expected to plead guilty on Tuesday.

But her Singaporean husband Yang Kaiheng, 27, is denying the charges and claiming trial.

 
 
 

These are the charges that the couple are facing, as laid out by DPP G. Kannan in his opening remarks on Monday.

Seven counts of sedition over:

1. An article that falsely asserted that a Filipino family caused an incident between the police and participants of last year (2015)'s Thaipusam procession, which could promote ill-will between ethnic Indians and Philippine nationals here, and between Singaporeans and Filipinos here.

2. A Facebook post with similar content as the first charge.

3. An article which used "incendiary" language to assert, among other things, that Filipino managers working in Singapore would "constantly give preferential treatment" to subordinates of the same nationality at the expense of Singaporeans.

4. An article that alleged that a Filipino employee in a company had bribed a colleague, an Indian national working in the IT department, to delete traces of the Filipino's misdeeds, to ensure that only Filipinos were hired by the company.

The article has a seditious tendency because "it directly pits Filipinos and Indian nationals against Singaporeans", said the DPP.

5. An article that "casts PRC women as home-wreckers whose main motive was 'trying to hook' Singaporean men, and destroying Singaporean families in the process".

6. A doctored reproduction of an article first published on citizen journalism portal Stomp to allege that a woman from northern China asked her grandson to urinate into a bottle on the MRT, to "cast people from the PRC as being uncivilised… in a bid to show how unacceptable their behaviour is to Singaporeans", said the DPP.

7. An article that asserted that a named company hired more foreigners than Singaporeans, and had an editor's note that fostered xenophobia and was falsely attributed to a "Farhan". In reality, it was a name adopted by Takagi to conceal her identity as a foreigner, said the DPP.

The couple also face an eighth charge under the Penal Code, for failing to hand over financial statements required by the police for investigation.

These include the statement of accounts for advertising revenues from Google AdSense and Google AdMob, as well as the bank statements to show the deposits of these revenues.