A 16-year-old Singaporean was convicted of posting an obscene image of the country’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, and offending Christians with an online video criticizing the late leader.
Amos Yee agreed to be assessed for probation, his lawyer Alfred Dodwell told Singapore District Judge Jasvender Kaur after Tuesday’s verdict. Yee earlier opposed probation, which the prosecution had sought, instead of a possible jail term. The judge set June 2 to receive the pre-sentence report.
Yee, who police said they arrested after receiving complaints over his postings made while more than a million people queued to mourn the country’s founding father, had been insensitive but not criminal, his lawyers had said earlier. The teenager intended to spur debate about Lee and didn’t mean to deliberately hurt the feelings of Christians, they said.
An image of Lee and former U.K. premier Margaret Thatcher in a sexual position was “plainly obscene” and crossed the line on what is “taboo,” prosecutors had said. The video where Yee compared Lee to Jesus Christ and said both were “power hungry” would raise discontent among Christians, they said.
Singapore, a multiracial and multireligious island, forbids comments aimed at promoting ill-will and hostility between different races. It suspended the license of a website for the first time last month for publishing prohibited material including anti-foreigner comments.
Lee, Singapore’s premier from 1959 to 1990, stepped down from the cabinet in 2011 and died March 23 at 91. A Cambridge University-educated lawyer, he said Singapore’s rule of law was vital to its economic success.
A 49-year-old man who slapped Yee outside the courts last month was sentenced to three weeks jail on Monday after pleading guilty.
Yee’s mother lodged a police report on the day of Lee’s funeral to make a “formal apology” to the nation and sought counseling for her son. Yee has been in remand since breaching his bail conditions including that he not post online. He had argued the term restricted his free speech.
Yee agreed to take down the posts, the court was told today. His bail was reduced to S$10,000 from S$30,000, with no conditions.
The case is Public Prosecutor v Amos Yee, MAC902694/2015. Singapore State Courts.