SINGAPORE - A Filipino convicted of making disparaging comments online about Singaporeans and two counts of providing false information to the police was jailed for four months on Monday .
Ed Mundsel Bello Ello, 29, was an assistant nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital when he published on the Facebooke page TheRealSingapore on Jan 2 this year that Singaporeans are "loosers'' (sic) and that he prayed that "disators'' (sic) strike Singapore .
The seditious comment attracted numerous hostile responses on Facebook. The comments republished on Kaki News Network's (KNN) Facebook page elicited 473 responses, many of which involved the slinging of racial slurs.
Many aggrieved Singaporeans, who were offended by his comments, filed police reports against him.
District Judge Siva Shanmugam said in his oral remarks that Ello's comments were extremely provocative and that Ello had intended for his comments to be so.
Ello, who had exploited the anonymity provided by his Edz Ello Facebook account, would have known that he would be enraging a large number of people. Indeed, there were more than 600 replies to his comments.
The judge said Ello's inflammatory comments had the potential to harm relations between Singaporeans and Filipinos in Singapore, and might already have affected many in the community adversely.
"The accused's provocative conduct, if left unchecked, could possibly result in discrimination against the innocent and law abiding minority Filipino residents in Singapore,'' he said.
Alarmed by the hostility generated by his comments, Ello deleted both comments that he had posted that night, before police began investigation.
The next day he learnt that the comments he had deleted had already gone viral and had been republished elsewhere online, and had continued to generate hostility.
He reported to the police that he was "shocked and furious'' that the comments had been attributed to him and asserted that he did not post them.
In a written police statement on Jan 4, Ello claimed that someone had accessed his Facebook account, using the desktop computer he had logged into at a cybercafe at Lucky Plaza.
Extensive investigation was carried out by the police. Ello finally came clean when he was confronted with evidence to the contrary.
The judge agreed with the prosecution that the peace and harmony of a cosmopolitan society such as Singapore's is held together by mutual respect and understanding, and that the unity of the society had been the foundation of its success and progress in the last 50 years.
"It is therefore imperative for this court to send a clear and unequivocal signal that such offence, if made out, will be met with the full brunt of the law in the form of a deterrent sentence,'' he added.
Another charge of publishing the comment that "SG will be the new filipino state" and of lying to the police were taken into consideration.
Ello could have been fined up to $5,000 and jailed for up to three years under the Sedition Act. For giving false information to the police, he could have been jailed for up to one year andfined up to $5,000 for each charge.