Third Singapore racist blogger pleads guilty to sedition

  Agence France Presse
October 26, 2005

A 17-YEAR-OLD Singaporean student pleaded guilty Wednesday, Oct 26, to sedition for posting anti-Muslim remarks on his Internet weblog in the third such case here, his lawyer said.

Gan Huai Shi's lawyer said he had asked a district court to consider probation for the teenager when he was sentenced on November 23.

"We asked for probation so the court will consider the suitability for probation for him," the laywer, Edmund Pereira, told AFP.

Gan, who admitted posting inflammatory remarks about Malay Muslims, is the third person this month to be convicted under the Sedition Act, which dates back to British colonial rule.

In a landmark ruling on October 7, two other ethnic Chinese men became the first persons in multi-racial Singapore to be punished for similar offences.

Benjamin Koh, 28, was given two concurrent one-month jail terms while Nicholas Lim, 25, was jailed for one day and fined S$5000 (US$2960) after they pleaded guilty to making strong anti-Muslim remarks.

"The doing of an act which has a seditious tendency to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between races or classes of the population in Singapore is serious," judge Richard Magnus said in handing down his ruling on the two.

Ethnic Chinese make up 76 percent of Singapore's resident population of 3.4 million, with Malay Muslims accounting for 13.7 percent followed by ethnic Indians, Eurasians and other racial groups.

The government has attempted to promote racial and religious harmony after Singapore experienced bloody racial riots in the 1960s.

Koh and Lim's case was triggered by a letter to the Straits Times newspaper from a Malay Muslim Singaporean woman, Zuraimah Mohammed, who in a query to taxi firms said uncaged dogs may drool on taxi seats or dirty them with their paws.

Under the Syafie school of thought to which most members of the local Muslim community belong, contact with dog saliva is prohibited.

The two men, who attacked Islam and its believers in reaction to the letter, issued public apologies after pleading guilty.