Hong Kong students protest outside Singapore consulate, urge release of Amos Yee

Amos Yee arriving at the State Court on June 2, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG - Hong Kong students protested outside the Singapore consulate in Admiralty on Tuesday, calling on the government to release teenage blogger Amos Yee, who was remanded for two weeks at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to undergo a psychiatric examination.

The 16-year-old was convicted on May 12 for uploading an obscene image in which the faces of Singapore's late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and former British premier Margaret Thatcher were superimposed. He was also found guilty of deliberately hurting the feeling of Christians in a YouTube video criticising Mr Lee.

The Hong Kong University (HKU) Student's Union organised the protest involving about 50 to 60 students from universities such as HKU and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The protest saw Mr Billy Fung, president of the student union, handing over a letter to a consulate representative at the Admiralty Centre where the consulate office is housed.

"We can see that the Singapore government (has) treated Amos Yee in an inhumane way (and) held him under bad conditions - such as 24 hour lighting so he could not sleep well," he said.

On why Hong Kong students were concerned about the issue, he said: "Our core value in Hong Kong is human rights, and we believe in freedom of speech and expression. We have a moral obligation to speak up especially for those who can't do it themselves."

The HKU, along with the Lingnan University student union and the student group Scholarism, had earlier announced the plans for a petition in a Facebook post, saying: "Any act of trampling human rights and manipulating the freedom of thought must be condemned."

Scholarism had earlier told the South China Morning Post that it condemned the Singaporean government for remanding Yee, saying that under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, young people's freedom of speech should be protected from government infringements.

"The Singapore government detained a teenager because of one video. This only shows Singapore, a so-called modernised society, fails to allow dissidents and different voices," the South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Tuesday quoted the student group as saying.

Last week, Yee was remanded for two weeks at IMH after the court was told in a pre-sentence hearing that a prison report had found him physically and mentally fit for reformative training.

However, a psychiatric assessment by Dr Munidasa Winslow contained in the report suggested that Yee may be suffering from autism spectrum disorder - which can be characterised by social deficits and communication difficulties.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur therefore ordered that Yee be remanded at the IMH for two weeks to see if he is suitable for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO).

First implemented in 2010, the MTO requires offenders with mental conditions to undergo psychiatric treatment for up to two years in lieu of jail time.

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