The Real S'pore 'caused racial unhappiness'

The Real S'pore 'caused racial unhappiness'
The pair behind socio-political website TRS (The Real Singapore), Miss Ai Takagi, Japanese-Australian and her Singaporean boyfriend, Mr Yang Kaiheng arriving at the State Courts on 14 April 2015. Each face seven counts under the Sedition Act for publishing online articles which allegedly promoted ill-will and hostility between Singaporeans and foreigners. The pair were each granted court bail of $20,000 and will next appear in court on 12 May 2015.

Sociopolitical website The Real Singapore (TRS) was ordered to shut down because the Government had enough evidence to show it had caused racial unhappiness, said Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim yesterday.

TRS had deliberately made up articles, according to the Media Development Authority (MDA), and had tried to incite anti-foreigner sentiment and undermine national harmony here. Police investigations also found that TRS had targeted Filipinos, and Chinese and Indian nationals, among others.

"We've never shut down a site so we do this very, very carefully," said Dr Yaacob, noting without elaboration that the Government has had only "27 interventions" since 1996.

"Once you cross the line, and in this case they have, and we have enough evidence to show that all the materials are very egregious and can actually cause a lot of racial unhappiness... we have to move," he added.

Last month, two of the editors behind TRS - Singaporean student Yang Kaiheng, 26, and his Australian girlfriend Ai Takagi, 22 - were charged with sedition for publishing articles that allegedly promoted ill will and hostility between different races or classes here. The duo is set to appear in court again on May 18.

A third editor was not included in the charges.

Dr Yaacob said that MDA will continue to investigate other "clone sites" which have popped up since TRS was taken offline on May 3.

"The Internet is very wide and very big but, at the end of the day, I think the most important thing for us is to preserve the racial and religious harmony that we have in Singapore," he said.

"If you do business in Singapore, you target our Singapore market, we hope you'll behave accordingly, so I think this is the signal we want to send."

Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, was speaking to reporters after he visited 10 families who have benefited from Mendaki@Heartlands, which is part of the Malay self-help group's outreach efforts.

Mendaki has reached out to over 9,000 residents since it set up six satellite offices in locations including Pasir Ris and Woodlands over the past two years.

This makes it more convenient for residents to apply for the group's assistance programmes, rather than doing so only at Mendaki's headquarters in Kee Sun Avenue, Siglap. Mendaki staff also go door to door and work with other agencies such as the Social Service Offices to identify those who may need help.

Pasir Ris resident Azlinda Jalil is one who has benefited.

The mother of two school-going children aged 10 and 11 receives $400 worth of book vouchers annually for stationery and textbooks.

"I'm a single mum, so it isn't easy," said the 44-year-old, who works as a service staff member at a fast-food restaurant.

"Mendaki has helped us a lot."

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg


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