TRS trial: Yang didn't want 'to implicate good friend'

Singaporean Yang Kaiheng founded socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS) with his wife and a "good friend", yet he told the police he did not know of his friend's involvement.

Yesterday, he explained why he lied, saying he did not want to implicate his fellow undergraduate Damien Koh, a Web developer.

"I was sure he had nothing to do with sedition in the TRS site," he told a district court.

Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan told him he had no reason to fear implicating Mr Koh if he knew Mr Koh did not write or upload any articles for TRS.

Yang, 27, who is facing sedition charges, replied: "I didn't want him to be called by the police and be implicated in the sedition case."

Last year, Yang had told the police he had "no idea" if Mr Koh was connected to TRS.

But in the last three days, he had testified that Mr Koh was one of the website's founders and handled its technical aspects.

DPP Kannan said he would address Yang's inconsistent remarks when he makes his submissions to the judge at the end of the trial.

Both sides, however, were in agreement on one thing yesterday, and that is the person behind the Skype account "able_tree" must have owned and maintained TRS.

The Skype user had discussed TRS matters with Mr Koh from March 2013 to January 2014, indicating that the person who used the account was not doing it on an "ad hoc" basis, said DPP Kannan.

Yang had told the court earlier that he was involved in TRS for only one to two months after it went live in June 2012, and that any other help he gave his wife subsequently was "ad hoc".

But who is behind the account has yet to be established.

The defence is arguing that only Ai Takagi, 23, who married Yang last October, used the account to discuss TRS matters. Yang had also testified that he used the account out of convenience and only for personal chats with friends.

Takagi had earlier pleaded guilty to sedition and was sentenced to 10 months' jail.

But the prosecution said it will show later in the trial that Yang was, in fact, the person behind the discussions on the Skype account. The trial, which entered its ninth day yesterday, has been adjourned to June 22.

This article was first published on April 9, 2016.
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