REGIONS:

SUBSCRIBE:

Sign up for weekly updates

Singapore blogger jailed for critical Lee Kuan Yew video

People pay their respects to the late first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at a community tribute site in Singapore, 28 March 2015
People pay their respects to the late first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at a community tribute site in Singapore, 28 March 2015

REUTERS/Edgar Su

This statement was originally published on cpj.org on 30 March 2015.

The Committee to Protect Journalists is concerned about the arrest on Sunday [March 29,2015] of a teenage video blogger in Singapore and calls on authorities to release him immediately.

Singapore police arrested Amos Yee, a teenage video blogger, according to a statement released by authorities on Monday. According to the government-aligned daily newspaper Straits Times, at least 20 public complaints had been filed to the police since Friday that called for Lee to be investigated.

The complaints were in connection with an eight-minute video Yee posted on YouTube on Friday in which he criticized the policies and political heritage of the late Lee Kuan Yew. The video, called "Lee Kuan Yew is Finally Dead!," has been taken down from Yee's YouTube channel, but is available on other channels.



In the video, Yee also compared Lee to Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Jesus Christ. News reports citing police said that Yee's arrest was due to the religious comments, which are tightly restricted by the government.

"The arrest of a young blogger for comments made in a video highlights the restrictive environment in which Singaporean journalists are forced to work," said Bob Dietz, CPJ's Asia program coordinator. "We call on authorities to release Amos Yee immediately and to undertake reform of Singapore's outdated laws restricting the media."

Police said Yee would be charged on Tuesday with "deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings of any person," "putting into circulation" an obscene object, and "threatening, abusive or insulting communication" under the city-state's newly enacted Protection from Harassment Act, Agence France-Presse reported. If convicted, Yee faces time in jail, a fine, or both.

Lee Kuan Yew, who died on March 23, held government power for three decades. Over the years, he and his family sued and won damages in Singapore courts or settlements with media outlets. New regulations in Singapore are aimed at reining in Internet-based news outlets and defamation suits are logged against bloggers who question the judiciary or investigate state financial bodies, according to CPJ research. Bloggers play a crucial role in Singapore, where most of the country's media are directly or indirectly controlled by the government, and self-censorship is prevalent, CPJ data show.

For more data and analysis on Singapore, visit CPJ's Singapore page.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • Lee Kuan Yew's legacy

    Singapore enjoys a reputation as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. But without aggressive media coverage, who is watching over the government, other than the government? As the global plaudits roll in, it is important to remember the relentless string of lawsuits against foreign and domestic media that dared to insinuate any nepotism or misconduct during the Lee family's rule.

  • Singapore and the limits of authoritarian prosperity


Latest Tweet:

Nobel Laureate #LiuXiaobo must be granted medical care - IFEX https://t.co/dmkOAorXOg | @pen_int https://t.co/SEPgH9w9bb