Amos Yee back in prison for assessment

Amos Yee back in prison for assessment

Teenage blogger Amos Yee is back in jail for three weeks so that he can be assessed for reformative training.

The 16-year-old has rejected probation. He has also brought back to the public domain the obscene image and video that led to his conviction on May 12.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur called for a report to see if Yee was suitable for reformative training, a rehabilitative sentencing option for offenders aged under 21 who are found unsuitable for probation.

She said: "Rehabilitation is the fundamental tenet of our justice system."

Clad in a yellow T-shirt, Yee appeared confident as he strode towards the courthouse with his parents, even making an obscene hand gesture at reporters on the way.

But when asked by The Straits Times before the start of the session how he was feeling, he said that he was "fearful".

At yesterday's hearing, the prosecution again called for Yee to be sent for reformative training.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun pointed out that a jail term or fine would "not have any impact on (Yee's) insight and self-control, and that is not tenable, because we cannot be popping back into court every other day".

Defence lawyer Alfred Dodwell described reformative training as "disproportionate to the offence in question". Instead, he asked for a short jail term on his client's behalf.

A stint at the Reformative Training Centre lasts between 18 and 30 months, and includes structured rehabilitation programmes, foot drills and counselling. Offenders will not have contact with adult inmates. Unlike probation, however, they will have a criminal record.

After his conviction, Yee initially made private both the blog post with the image and the video for which he was found guilty of making remarks intending to hurt the feelings of Christians. But the prosecution noticed on May 21 that they had been made public again.

On Monday, Yee uploaded the image on his Facebook page as well and wrote on his blog: "And yes, to the chagrin of numerous people, I have not 'learnt my lesson', nor do I see any 'lesson' that needs to be learnt."

The crowd at yesterday's hearing was thinner than in previous sessions, with only about 20 seats filled in the public gallery. Present were activist blogger Roy Ngerng, a regular at the hearings, along with Reform Party secretary-general Kenneth Jeyaretnam.

Yee's father, Alphonsus Yee, said his son was "mentally prepared" to enter remand, but declined to comment on the prospect of reformative training.

Yee's case will next be heard on June 23.

oliviaho@sph.com.sg


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