All eyes on teenager on a day of drama

All eyes on teenager on a day of drama
Amos Yee leaving the State Courts with his father Alphonsus Yee and mother Mary Toh yesterday. The teen was all smiles and took his time to ensure that the media got all the pictures it wanted

The bail centre at the State Courts typically closes at 6pm on a Tuesday, but yesterday it was kept open late to give Amos Yee's parents the time to post his $10,000 bail.

When the teen blogger left remand at 7pm - after exchanging his prison garb for a navy blue T-shirt and khaki bermudas - to end his stay of slightly more than two weeks in Changi Prison, he was greeted by around a dozen onlookers who waited to welcome him and give him advice.

Retired artist Koh Ban Jee, 60, pressed a red packet containing a $100 note into the surprised teenager's hands.

"I just want to get to know him and help him," she said of Yee, who had stopped school after his O levels. "I want to encourage him to go back to school and go to university."

Yee, who was all smiles, took his time to ensure that the media got all the pictures it wanted of him. He even quipped: "I don't know if I should celebrate my release or mourn my sentence."

Even as the judge found him guilty of uploading an obscene image and of insulting Christianity, Yee could afford the occasional smile to the packed gallery. Instead, it was activist blogger Roy Ngerng who seemed to get teary-eyed.

Members of the public had queued for hours to get a seat to see if Yee would be found guilty. Two women said they had waited since 8am for the 2.30pm trial to start.

Even when the hearing began, around 30 people continued to queue outside while another group stood around to watch.

The only time Yee seemed to get agitated was when the parties in court started discussing his two sessions with a psychiatrist at the Institute of Mental Health last month.

Yee shook his head fervently and gestured to his lawyer, Mr Alfred Dodwell, who clarified to the court that Yee had not wanted to go to the psychiatrist but his mother had made him.

Mr Dodwell added that Yee's mother had told him that she did not find the visits useful.

Mr Vincent Law, a youth counsellor who posted bail for Yee after his parents refused to last month, said of the verdict: "It's not unexpected but I wish that it wasn't this way.

The younger generation just want a space... to do their own critical thinking and be different."

But Ms Tanya Tan, 25, a customer service officer, said: "Yee doesn't seem to know he's in the wrong."

oliviaho@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 13, 2015.
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