Amos Yee refuses to see psychiatrist

Amos Yee refuses to see psychiatrist
Amos Yee Pang Sang,16, is accused of attacking Christianity, transmitting an obscene image, and making an online video that insulted Mr Lee Kuan Yew, which offended those who viewed it.

Teenage blogger Amos Yee's parents took him to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to see a psychiatrist on April 3. But after two sessions, the 16-year-old refused to go anymore, it was revealed in court yesterday.

The prosecution offered to lower the teenager's bail amount and do away with the requirement that he report to Bedok Police Station every morning - if he agreed to continue seeing a psychiatrist. Yee refused, and the High Court rejected his challenge to his current bail conditions, under which he cannot post any content online.

Clad in a purple prison jumpsuit, the teen, who looked to be in good spirits during the hearing, continues to be remanded in custody pending his two-day trial, which starts today, for attacking Christianity and transmitting an obscene image.

Yee had filed a motion to the High Court for his bail to be lowered from $30,000 to $20,000, and to be allowed to post online.

His lawyers, Mr Alfred Dodwell and Mr Ervin Tan, argued that the court should quash bail conditions that forbid Yee from posting online and require him to make private the video and blog post that are the subject of the charges.

Mr Tan said Yee did not want to take down the video and posts as he considers this tantamount to an admission of guilt.

Mr Dodwell said Yee has been on social media since he was eight and it was "the equivalent of him drinking water". He added that the bail conditions were "taking away a lot from him", including his right to reply to people bashing him on the Internet.

Justice Tay Yong Kwang asked: "It's just a question of not posting anything for the time being. What's so difficult about it?"

He added that Yee would just have to learn to curb himself.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun countered that Yee wanted to "drink Coke rather than water" and was not being deprived of a basic need.

"The law is not a buffet for him to pick and choose what he wants and chuck away what he doesn't like," said the DPP.

Mr Hay told the court that the prosecution became aware only on Tuesday that Yee had seen a psychiatrist. The prosecution was prepared to relax the bail conditions to let him seek help, but stood firm on the social media conditions.

Mr Dodwell objected to the DPP stating that Yee is a troubled youth who needs psychiatric help, as he has not been diagnosed with any condition.

The court also heard that, on March 29, Yee's mother lodged a police report to apologise to the nation and to put her son through counselling as she was "unable to get through to him".

The judge asked Yee's lawyers if their client was prepared to accept the prosecution's offer to continue his appointments. Yee flatly refused.

Justice Tay said that in view of that, he saw no reason to vary any of the bail conditions.

Yee's mother, Madam Mary Toh, 48, later told reporters she "felt very bad" after his video went viral, and made a police report to apologise to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and to "whoever got hurt" by her son's actions, as well as to seek help for him.

She said she did not think that Yee had a mental illness, but took him to the IMH to find out why he was so "special" - as he did not fear anything and did not seem to understand consequences. "All of us know that he's perfectly normal," she said.

selinal@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 7, 2015.
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