2-week remand at IMH for blogger Amos Yee

Teenage blogger Amos Yee will be remanded for two weeks at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to undergo psychiatric examination.

In a pre-sentence hearing, the court was told yesterday that a prison report found the 16-year-old physically and mentally fit for reformative training.

However, a psychiatric assessment by Munidasa Winslow suggested that Yee may be suffering from autism spectrum disorder, which can be characterised by social deficits and communication difficulties.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur therefore ordered that Yee be remanded at IMH for two weeks to see if he is suitable for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO).

First implemented in 2010, an MTO requires offenders with mental conditions to undergo psychiatric treatment for up to two years in lieu of jail time.

Last month, Yee was found guilty of making remarks intending to hurt the feelings of Christians in a video, and uploading an obscene image.

The Straits Times understands he submitted an undertaking to the court yesterday, agreeing to make the offending posts private and not disseminate them further.

As of 5pm yesterday, the posts were no longer accessible on Yee's blog and YouTube channel.

Yee's case is scheduled to be heard again on July 6, when Judge Kaur will consider sentencing options such as an MTO and reformative training.

On June 2, she had ordered him to be remanded for three weeks to assess his suitability for reformative training.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun noted that the prosecution had already suggested that Yee be examined by psychiatric experts on two previous occasions.

The first was during a May 6 bail review at the High Court, while the second was after Yee's conviction on May 12.

Yesterday's three-hour session was mostly conducted behind closed doors, with Yee only appearing in the dock briefly.

The teenager seemed wan and unkempt. He sat hunched and unsmiling in the dock.

He has spent almost 40 days in remand to date.

Defence lawyer Alfred Dodwell said his client had not objected to the IMH assessment.

He said: "We want what is in Amos' best interest, so we hope he is given the appropriate treatment that will help him.

"The judge is clearly doing her level best to ensure that Amos gets the best treatment and, perhaps, rehabilitation."

Yee's mother, Mary Toh, 48, arrived in court wearing a white T-shirt with a #FreeAmosYee slogan in support of her son. The shirt depicts Yee in a banana-esque submarine, referencing the Beatles' hit Yellow Submarine.

She had taken Yee to IMH on April 3, when he met a psychiatrist. He attended a second session a few days later, but refused to go for a third.

His father, computer engineer Alphonsus Yee, told reporters his son had not been previously diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. He said: "There has been a lot of speculation online about it, but nothing in his growing-up years suggested this."

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