Open letter over state's treatment of Amos Yee sent to PM

Students demanding the release of Singaporean teenager Amos Yee protest outside the Singapore Consulate in Hong Kong, China.
Students demanding the release of Singaporean teenager Amos Yee protest outside the Singapore Consulate in Hong Kong, China.PHOTO: REUTERS

An open letter expressing concerns about the way the state has treated teenage blogger Amos Yee was yesterday sent to the Prime Minister.

Signed by 77 individuals, including civil society activist Braema Mathi, playwright Alfian Sa'at and academic Cherian George, the letter said Yee's prosecution has created a "negative impact on his well-being and that of his family... (and) a negative environment for all younger members of society".

The 16-year-old was found guilty in May of making remarks intending to hurt the feelings of Christians in an expletive-laden video and uploading an obscene image. He has been remanded for more than 50 days since - the last two weeks at the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric examinations.

Since his arrest in March, Yee has repeatedly breached bail conditions and refused to speak to a probation officer. His case is due to be heard again tomorrow, when the court will consider sentencing options.

Yesterday's letter recognised the negative aspects of Yee's remarks, but urged the state to "discharge its prosecutorial function with caution, sensitivity and generosity".

"I personally stand by my appeal to review this whole case. (Yee) has already spent quite a number of days under remand," said Ms Mathi, president of rights group Maruah. "As a population we need to learn how to cope with diverse views, because that is the nature of the world."

On Friday, Yee's lawyers filed an application for an urgent hearing. "We wanted to request... (that he) be released on bail temporarily until Monday's hearing," said one of his three lawyers, Mr Chong Jiahao.

The request was turned down, said Mr Chong, as the courts had a packed schedule, and Yee's Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO) suitability report was not ready. An MTO requires offenders with mental conditions to undergo treatment for up to two years in lieu of jail time.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 05, 2015, with the headline 'Open letter over state's treatment of Amos Yee sent to PM'. Print Edition | Subscribe