Singapore teenager arrested over comments about late leader in YouTube video
Criticisms over jailing teenager and restriction on freedom of speech
A 16-year-old teenager has been charged for a tirade he posted on YouTube regarding the death of the late Singapore leader, Lee Kuan Yew.
Amos Yee, a moppy-haired teenager posted an online video peppered with expletives that slammed the late leader, who died last week, as a “horrible person” and “undoubtedly totalitarian.” He also made comments comparing Lee to Jesus Christ and Mao Zedong.
Lee, highly revered in Singapore was buried Sunday with thousands gathering in a massive state funeral service. While admired for his role turning the former British colony into a financial power house, Lee was also criticized for tamping down on free speech in Singapore.
On the day of Lee’s funeral, Yee was arrested after Singapore police said it received more than 20 reports regarding his video, which police said contained “disparaging remarks against Christians.”
That YouTube video has since been removed.
Restrictions on free speech
Critics say Yee’s arrest highlights the restrictions on free speech in Singapore. The Committee to Protect Journalists called for the teen’s immediate release.
Yee faces three charges: intent to wound the religious feelings of any person; circulating obscene objects; and making threatening and abusive or insulting communications. He could face up to three years in prison.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Tan Chye Hee said: “Police take a stern view of acts that could threaten religious harmony in Singapore. Any person who uploads offensive content online with deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings of any person will be firmly dealt with in accordance with the law.”
The Strait Times newspaper reported that Yee’s bail was set at $14,500 and that Yee’s father apologized to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is the son of Lee Kuan Yew.