TRS duo still out on bail in Singapore

TRS duo still out on bail in Singapore
STILL HERE: Mr Robin Yang (L) and Miss Ai Takagi (R) were back at Police Cantonment Complex yesterday morning as their bail expired.

The two weeks' bail for Miss Ai Takagi, a Japanese-Australian, and Mr Robin Yang Kaiheng had expired.

But if the pair were hoping to return to their Brisbane apartment for their new university term, they were disappointed.

The New Paper understands that the students at the University of Queensland had their bail extended and their application to return to Australia rejected.

The couple again declined to speak to TNP but a relative, believed to be Mr Yang's father, spoke briefly.

The man, who stood at the foyer of the building while the two were inside, said cryptically: "Everybody has his own opinion."

Miss Takagi, 22, and Mr Yang, 26, are accused of embellishing a post on TRS.

TNP reported the duo's arrest in February and it was picked up by Japanese and Australian media.

An Australian law professor said the same post would likely have been deemed a crime in Australia too.

"The law says as long as somebody in Australia feels a public posting offends, insults, intimidates or humiliates a person because of their ethnicity, sex, disability or age, then there may be grounds for an investigation," said Mr Michael Crowley, senior lecturer at Edith Cowan University's School of Law and Justice.

And public postings include those on the Internet.

Australian Hate Speech laws apply even when the inciting of hatred is done abroad.

"For as long as the comment incites hate and an Australian is offended by the comment, then yes, a complaint - which may lead to legal action - can be made."

Cyber racism is classified as an act of racism under the Racial Discrimination Act, a legislation introduced in 1975.

Mr Crowley said: "If there are grounds to pursue the matter, a conciliation via the Australian Human Rights Commission could be the first resolution point. Otherwise, it can escalate to the courts."

But if action is taken in Singapore, they cannot face double jeopardy, he said.

HATE SPEECH LAW

Hate speech laws also exist in Canada, Britain and many parts of Europe.

Does Singapore need a law that polices hate speech?

Singapore Management University's (SMU) Associate Law Professor, Mr Eugene Tan, said: "The current legislative arsenal, from the Penal Code to the Sedition Act to the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act, is adequate to deal with hate speech."

Hate speech is presently policed by the Sedition Act, the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act (which monitors discussions relating to race and religion), and the Undesirable Publications Act.

The last Act deals with any person making unpleasant or offensive publication with regards to race or religion that is likely to cause feelings of enmity, hatred, ill will or hostility between different racial or religious groups.

Mr Tan said: "Depending on the facts of the case and the severity of the transgression, the various laws enable the Attorney-General to calibrate the necessary enforcement action.

"It appears that the Sedition Act is used for more severe cases where the alleged hate speech promotes feelings of ill will and hostility between different racial, religious, or linguistic groups of Singapore."

The Act was first used on bloggers for racists posts in 2005.

Is Sedition too blunt a tool?

Mr Tan said: "Effectively, under the Sedition Act, there is a range of punishment that can be meted out depending on the severity of the offence, the offender and any mitigating circumstances."

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