Amos Yee's defence: Image not sexually arousing

He flashed a smile at his parents as he made his way to the dock on the second day of his trial yesterday.

Blogger Amos Yee Pang Sang, 16, who pleaded not guilty on Thursday to the two proceeded charges against him, sat silently in the courtroom as the prosecution and his lawyers presented their submissions to District Judge Jasvender Kaur.

The two proceeded charges are those of transmitting an obscene picture electronically and uploading content online which contained remarks against Christianity.

The third charge under the Protection from Harassment Act, accusing him of posting an insulting video clip online containing remarks about former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, has been stood down. This meant that the prosecution will assess whether to bring this charge up at a later date.

On March 30, Yee said in his statement to the police that he was aware that his rant-filled video and his blog post containing an alleged obscene image involving the late Mr Lee and former British premier Margaret Thatcher were offensive.

But yesterday, his legal team and the prosecution debated on whether the image he created of the two leaders could be considered as obscene.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Hay Hung Chun told the court that it was plainly so. He said that it "uses well-known and smiling visages of two former prime ministers to accentuate and amplify the depravity" and it has "no redeeming scientific, educational and medical value".

DPP Hay stressed that any person with an Internet access, including younger viewers, could access Yee's blog to view the post in question.

He said: "We reiterate that the audience for this image and post would have been the average Singaporean on the MRT with Internet access. It is plain that he crossed the line on what is 'taboo'.

"In short, he seeks to redraw the boundaries of what is considered 'taboo' through the use of 'shocking' imagery."

One of Yee's lawyers, Mr Ervin Tan, disagreed and told the court that the image was not obscene.

He said: "The sting in the image is the mockery of a leader, highly respected by many. It is not a pornographic image."


Mr Tan added that Yee found the original image online before he superimposed the faces of the two leaders on it.

"The underlying image which he used was a type of sexual education piece found in magazines such as Cosmopolitan or Women's Health.

"It would be surprising if this court were to declare that the underlying image, which can be found on a Women's Health website, was obscene.

"Even if the class of persons likely to see it includes children surfing the Internet unsupervised by their parents, the defence submits that the image does not have an effect of sexual arousal or promote sexual immorality."

Another of Yee's lawyers, Mr Chong Jia Hao, also said that their teenage client "did not have the deliberate and conscious intention of wounding religious feelings" when he uploaded his video.

He said that Yee's sole purpose was to share his critique of Mr Lee.

"There is no evidence that Christians have been wounded by the statement made by Yee. No religious leaders, especially the Christian leaders, have stepped forward or even made an official statement to say that their religious feelings have been wounded," said Mr Chong.

Instead, he pointed out that many Christians have come forward to say that they have not been hurt. They include Yee's former bailor, youth and family counsellor, Mr Vincent Law, the court heard.

DPP Hay disagreed, saying it was plain that the teen's "remarks against Christianity were deliberately made".

He said: "They were not carelessly spoken nor were they uttered on the spur of the moment."

He pointed out that Yee had spent about two to three days conceptualising and scripting the video before personally recording, editing and uploading it on YouTube.

Referring to Yee's earlier statement, DPP Hay added: "It is plain he made a conscious decision to upload to video even though, on his own admission, he was 'fully aware that this comparison between Mr Lee and Jesus Christ was bound to promote ill will among the Christian population'."

Judge Kaur will deliver her findings on Tuesday.

If convicted of uploading content online which contained remarks against Christianity, Yee can be jailed for up to three years and fined.If convicted of transmitting an obscene image electronically, he can be jailed for up to three months and fined.


This article was first published on May 9, 2015.
Get The New Paper for more stories.