Owner of TRS jailed 8 months for sedition

Owner of TRS jailed 8 months for sedition

SINGAPORE - The owner and co-founder of now-defunct sociopolitical site The Real Singapore (TRS) has been sentenced to eight months' jail on Tuesday (June 28) after pleading guilty last week to six sedition charges.

According to The Straits Times, two more charges - one of sedition, and another of failing to provide police with financial documents on the site's advertising revenue - were taken into consideration during the sentencing.

27-year-old Yang Kaiheng admitted on Friday (June 24) to deliberately sowing discord between Singaporeans and foreigners through articles on his website.

Yang had co-founded the site with his 23-year-old Australian-Japanese wife Ai Takagi, and a friend.

Yang and Takagi had published at least seven seditious posts targeting foreigners in Singapore.

The site was eventually shut down by the Media Development Authority in May 2015.


According to Channel NewsAsia, bank statements also revealed that the couple netted more than $500,000 in advertising revenue in less than three years. They were able to pay off their A$190,000 (S$191,768) 30-year home loan in just 11 months.

Takagi was found to have authored the seditious posts, while Yang was revealed to be in control of the website's operations, such as deciding which advertising platforms to work with and the development of mobile applications.

The prosecution, led by Deputy Public Prosecutor G Kannan said that Yang was aware that Takagi's posts were "stirring up anger and resentment in Singapore", but continued to allow these seditious articles to run.

District Judge Chay Yuen Fatt pointed out that Yang did nothing to stem xenophobic and racist sentiments, allowing the articles to "kick up a storm on the Internet with zero control" to generate more revenue.

In sentencing Yang, Judge Chay also warned against intolerance: "At the heart of this case against the accused lies the exploitation of such feelings purely for financial gain and not for some noble ideology, misguided or otherwise."

During early investigations, Yang had denied his involvement in the daily management of the site. However he pleaded guilty last week when the second part of his trial was due to begin.

Yang could have been jailed for up to three years and/or fined up to $5,000 per charge.

In his arguments, defence lawyer Choo Zheng Xi, argued that Yang has given up socio-political blogging.

Mr Choo added that Yang also has to cope with an ill father, who needs intensive daily care.

Meanwhile, Takagi who pleaded guilty from the start, has been sentenced to 10 months in jail.

She started serving her term in April.


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