March 31, 2015
A 16-YEAR-OLD who appeared in a video that criticised Lee Kuan Yew, the late founding father of modern Singapore, was arrested because of comments that disparaged Christianity, according to the Singaporean police and local news reports.
The arrest came on Sunday Mar 29, as Singapore held a state funeral for Lee that was attended by world leaders and dignitaries. Thousands of Singapore's residents stood in the rain to see his coffin pass through the streets.
Singapore is known for measures viewed by critics as strict limits on expression, and its
politicians, including Lee, have won defamation cases against critics. Libel cases have also been filed against foreign media outlets, among them The International Herald Tribune - now The International New York Times.
The police said late Monday that the teenager had been arrested because of his criticism of
Christianity, under a law that bans the "deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings."
The teenager also faces charges for obscenity and violation of Singapore's Harassment Act, which restricts "threatening, abusive or insulting communication," the police said in a statement late Monday.
The teenager was not identified, although the newspaper the Straits Times in Singapore and the Singapore-based broadcaster Channel News Asia identified him as Amos Yee and said he had appeared in a video posted on YouTube last week.
Titled Lee Kuan Yew Is Finally Dead! the video (warning: offensive language) includes an eight-minute monologue questioning whether Singapore's prosperity under Lee's leadership had left citizens happy.
"He was a dictator, but managed to fool most of the world to think he was democratic. And he did that by still granting us the opportunity to vote to make it seem like we had freedom of
choice," the teenager says in the video.
"He created an environment where his blatant flaws as a leader were hidden because most people were afraid of criticising him."
The video led to more than 20 complaints to the police. It was made private on Yee's YouTube account but has been re-uploaded.
Yee was also accused of posting obscene material on his Facebook page and blog, according to local news reports.