High Court dismisses teen blogger Amos Yee's appeal against conviction and sentence

Amos Yee has failed in an appeal against his sentence and conviction.
Amos Yee has failed in an appeal against his sentence and conviction. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Blogger Amos Yee's appeal against his conviction and jail sentence was dismissed by the High Court on Thursday (Oct 8).

Yee, who had filed a notice of appeal through his lawyer Alfred Dodwell on July 9, was not present during the hearing.

The 16-year-old was found guilty on May 12 - after a two-day trial - of intending to wound the religious feelings of Christians in a video, as well as of uploading an obscene image onto his blog.

He was sentenced to four weeks' jail on July 6, but walked free on the same day after his sentence was backdated from June 2.

In all, Yee spent more than 50 days in remand - including stints in Changi Prison and the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to undergo a psychiatric assessment.


Justice Tay Yong Kwang said that throughout the proceedings, Yee had demonstrated an attitude of complete disregard for others that was hardly ever seen.

He noted that besides using a four-letter word in his police statement, Yee also openly defied the directions of the court and made sure that people on the Internet knew of his bravado.

"He (Yee) gave no respect to anyone - the police, the court and someone who had just passed away," said Justice Tay.

Yee had criticised the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in his video.

"All these were done in the noble disguise of freedom of speech. Yee's deliberate use of vulgarities and crude language to provoke reactions seems like someone throwing stones at the windows of a neighbour's house to force them to notice him and force them to come out to quarrel or fight.

"This doesn't sound like freedom of speech at all."

Justice Tay surmised that it would be wrong to focus on Yee's age and downplay what he had said and done.

"Mr Yee, in my opinion, is obviously not a person without talent. He has a command of the English language which could be put to good use," he said.

"I hope that Mr Yee will wean himself from his preference for crude language. I think real debate and rational discussions of social issues can flourish in an environment of goodwill and civil language."