TRS trial: Yang Kaiheng pleads guilty to sedition

Yang Kaiheng, 27, pleaded guilty to six counts of sedition.
Yang Kaiheng, 27, pleaded guilty to six counts of sedition.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - The man who co-founded socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS) admitted on Friday (June 24) to deliberately sowing discord between Singaporeans and foreigners through a series of online articles.

Yang Kaiheng, 27, pleaded guilty to six counts of sedition on the ninth day of his trial.

Two other charges, one of sedition and another of failing to produce financial statements on the website's advertising revenue to the police, will be taken into consideration during sentencing.

District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt adjourned the hearing to next Tuesday (June 28) for both sides to make submissions on sentencing.

Yang and his wife, 23-year-old Ai Takagi, were charged for publishing a series of six inflammatory articles and a Facebook update that were posted online between Oct 13, 2013 and Feb 4, 2015.

These articles included one which falsely claimed a Filipino family had complained about the noise during a Thaipusam procession last year that led to a scuffle between the police and some participants of the procession.

They were to have faced a joint trial, but Takagi pleaded guilty at the start and was sentenced to 10 months in jail. She began her jail term in April.

During the first seven days of his trial in March and April, Yang had insisted that his involvement in TRS was only "fleeting" and lasted for only one month in 2012.

After that, he helped out only on an "ad hoc" basis and was not involved in the daily management of the website, he said.

But he admitted to lying in court after the prosecution pointed out inconsistencies in his testimony.

For instance, Yang had claimed he had set up a Facebook page with Takagi to criticise MP Tin Pei Ling during the May 2011 General Election. However, this was shown in court to be untrue as the couple met only in September 2011, four months after the election.

The second part of his trial was to have started on Wednesday (June 22)this week and six days had been set aside for the hearings.

But in an unexpected turn of events, Yang told the court on Wednesday he would plead guilty.

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