TRS case: My account of Thaipusam case altered, says nurse

TRS case: My account of Thaipusam case altered, says nurse
PHOTO: The New Paper

Last February, a nurse sent her first-hand account of a Thaipusam incident to sociopolitical website The Real Singapore (TRS).

But yesterday, Ms Gowri Yanaseckaran told the High Court the version published by the now-defunct website was "cooked up" and "all nonsense".

The 32-year-old, who had been unhappy with the way the police had told some of the festival participants to stop playing musical instruments, which resulted in a scuffle, had e-mailed what she saw to TRS.

But what was published on TRS had her blaming a Filipino family for complaining to the police after their young child cried because of the noise made by the "urumi", an Indian drum.

"There was no such complaint by a Pinoy family, to the best of my knowledge," Ms Gowri said in her court statement.

"I was surprised as I had made no mention of any complaint by a Pinoy family in my e-mail."

The testimonies of several witnesses yesterday, in the continuing trial of Yang Kaiheng, 27, also showed the article had made false claims.

Yang and his wife, Ai Takagi, 23, have been charged with writing and disseminating the seditious article, along with five other inflammatory articles and a Facebook post.

Takagi had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 months' jail last week.

But Yang claimed trial, saying his involvement lasted only about a month in 2012 and was "ad hoc" after that.

Yesterday, Assistant Superintendent of Police Chan Wai Hoong, who was present during the Thaipusam incident, reaffirmed Ms Gowri's

court statement.

He said: "The initial instruction to approach the group of musicians and advise them to stop playing their drums was issued by me."

He was not approached by a Filipino family with a complaint, he said.

ASP Abdul Murad testified he had asked Takagi to retrieve her Google search history "to determine if she had carried out any searches that may be relevant to the Thaipusam-related article".

The word "urumi" and phrase "urumi instrument" popped up.

Also, the Google account used for these searches bore the name "Mohd Farhan", a fictitious name she had adopted, she told ASP Abdul. The name "Farhan" had been used to sign off an editor's note which said it was the objective of TRS editors to "instil fear" in companies that hire foreigners instead of Singaporeans.

That article is also the subject of one of the charges against Yang.

Yesterday, the prosecutor sought to establish, among other things, that Yang was inextricably involved in TRS, including developing and maintaining the website. Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan did so by comparing two chat logs.

One is a Skype conversation between a user called "able_tree" and Mr Damien Koh, a Web developer who started TRS with Yang and Takagi but later quit. The prosecution said Yang and Takagi shared the "able_tree" account.

The other is a WhatsApp conversation extracted from the smartphone of Takagi, an Australian.

DPP Kannan noted that Singlish words like "meh", "liao" and "lor" were each used at least three times in the Skype conversation, but no such expressions were found in the WhatsApp messages.

The Skype conversations also had Hokkien expletives, which were absent in the WhatsApp chats.

DPP Kannan also highlighted an online conversation in which a Vietnamese programmer addressed "able_tree" as "Yang".

In the same conversation, the programmer was asked to clarify some things about Elance, an online freelancer portal, which "able_tree" was not familiar with.

On this portal, DPP Kannan noted, was an account with the name "kaiheng" and it was used to hire freelance programmers for TRS.

The hearing continues.

This article was first published on April 1, 2016.
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