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Some Further Thoughts on the Amos Case

There were a few further points that I want to add or clarify with respect to my previous post “Amos Yee: Singapore’s Youngest Political Prisoner”.

Decision to Send Amos to Reformative Training Disproportionate and Clearly Political

Firstly I stand by my statement that I am revulsed and appalled by the decision to send Amos to reformative training. This is usually reserved for youths involved in drug trafficking, loan shark running and breaking and entering. Many of them are triad or gang members. I managed to find a report of a 17 year old Briton who successfully avoided being sent to a Reformative Training Centre (RTC) and received a prison sentence instead. But he was already on probation for theft and committed a string of more than 30 burglaries after breaking his probation and going on the run:

“A 17-YEAR-OLD Briton yesterday got the prison term he asked for, after having gone on a spree of mischief, criminal trespass and theft while out on police bail and serving a probation order for earlier offences.

Grant Callum Pearson, who objected strongly to being sent for reformative training, was given nine months by a district court; the sentence will, however, be backdated to the start of his period of remand on May 22.

The teenager had told the court earlier that his remand, served in Changi Prison, had given him time to think about what he had done and to turn over a new leaf. He also claimed to have found out that the dynamics among youths in reformative training revolved around gangs and skin colour, and that he would be a misfit there.

The court heard that Pearson, then studying at an international school, was being investigated for fraudulent possession of a CashCard in March; he was a no-show for his court date on March 27, and a warrant went out for his arrest. While on the run, he committed about 30 offences. With his alleged accomplices Rhamir Colita Johnston and Huang Ruochu, both 16, he trespassed into a house in Pasir Panjang and homes in the East Coast areas to steal…

Pearson had pleaded guilty to a charge of mischief – smashing a car window – and four charges each of criminal trespass and theft; 23 other charges were taken into consideration.

His slate of transgressions predate the CashCard offence. In April last year, he was given 18 months’ probation for theft and criminal breach of trust.

Briton RTC

I have put into italics the comment that even someone who had committed a string of serious offences was scared to go to a RTC. The judge agreed with the accused  and sentenced him to nine months jail instead which would be reduced automatically to six months.

Other cases that I came across include the 19 year old head of a secret society who assaulted a student and his own members for wanting to leave the gang. The report says:

“He first joined Sio Kun Tong secret society of the 18 group in 2008 as a fighter.

But he rose through the ranks and, a year later, Ahmad was instructed by a senior member to recruit other youths to form a gang in which he would be the headman.

Ahmad later managed to attract about 20 young people.”

Other people sentenced to RTC include a drug trafficker who dealt in heroin while another cannabis trafficker was spared reformative training by CJ Menon.

Is there any comparison between what Amos did and these criminals? How could the DPP and the judge think that a RTC was a suitable place for a relatively sheltered middle-class boy like Amos? To sentence him to an RTC is callous and sadistic. It may be equivalent to handing Amos a death sentence. Whatever happens he is likely to end up scarred for life.

Furthermore is it not blatant racism or Singapore’s Government kowtowing to its former colonial master that a Briton was allowed to escape reformative training despite his multiple serious offences while a local boy who has only done what teenagers do routinely in the West is subjected to this brutal regime.

Also Amos’s education is likely to be set back considerably. He is clearly highly intelligent yet the RTC only offers basic vocational courses in electronics at NITEC intermediate level and foundation studies for Polytechnic at the Tanah Merah Prison (Prison School).

Sending Amos to reformative training echoes the way political prisoners in the old Soviet Union were sent into the gulag system with the worst criminals, and ended up at bottom of the prison hierarchy. This is what is going to happen to Amos and clearly that is the intention of the AG, who represents the PAP Government, and the judge.

Sentence of Reformative Training a form of Pre-emptive Detention without Trial

Amos is being punished for offences he has not yet committed and for which he has not been tried, as was made clear by Amos’s lawyer, Alfred Dodwell, in his submission to Justice Kaur, at the sentencing hearing.

The AG admitted as much when he said a jail term or a fine would have no rehabilitative effect on Amos and would therefore not be “tenable, because we cannot be popping back into court every other day.”

Surely it is a fundamental tenet of any justice system that you cannot be punished for crimes you have not yet committed, except perhaps in Philip K. Dick novels about dystopian futures like Minority Report. Yet that is what the AG is in effect saying and the judge is doing.  This is just a thinly disguised detention without trial that to a sixteen year old must seem like forever with no light at the end of the tunnel. I can remember when I did NS how it seemed to last forever. All the Government want to do is to ensure Amos is denied his constitutional rights to freedom of expression, a fundamental tenet of any democracy.

Minority Report

Amos’s Situation is Worse than Nelson Mandela’s

I compared Amos’s wrongful conviction and disgraceful sentence to the example of Nelson Mandela who was also convicted in a court of law though for rather more serious crimes. This was in response to comments on the internet that I was wrong to call Amos a political prisoner since he had been convicted in a court of law. Besides Mandela, Ghandi and Anwar Ibrahim were also convicted in courts of law but no one would deny that Ghandi’s convictions were political and few outside the Malaysian Government would deny that Anwar’s conviction was.

However there is an important difference between Mandela and Amos Yee. Mandela had the support of other prisoners and the knowledge that his struggle for freedom was growing in strength both within South Africa and internationally where apartheid and Mandela’s imprisonment were turning South Africa’s white racist regime into an international pariah. Amos is alone and only a sixteen year old kid not an experienced lawyer with a huge network of supporters behind him.

Singaporeans Need to Stop Relying on a Slight Sixteen Year Old Boy to Wage the Battle for Freedom on Their Behalf

Finally I find it disgusting that when I attended the hearing many in the queue were laughing and joking that Amos would end up breaking the system and the PAP Government.

As I have said many times before Singaporeans need to wake up and stop relying on others to wage the war for basic freedoms on their behalf. During my dad’s time, they expected him to struggle alone for them. He lost everything but very few came forward to help him. I remember Chiam See Tong saying to me, “Singaporeans will applaud from the sidelines if you speak up for them. But they won’t step forward to help you when the Government sues you.”

Now  the same thing is happening with Amos. Adult Singaporeans need to step forward and take responsibility for fighting for their freedoms rather than rely on an immature sixteen year old kid.

Certainly they cannot expect any help from Westerners who are engaged in the cynical bargain of heaping praise on the PAP in return for being allowed to work or do business here and pay low tax. They will accumulate their pile and go back to their home countries where they can enjoy the freedoms and the luxury lifestyle they are happy to see denied to Singaporeans.

When Lee Kuan Yew is elevated to a god and his son is similarly deified when he retires and it is made a criminal offence to criticise anyone from the PAP perhaps we will not regret not showing Amos more support.

Perhaps now the Workers Party may be regretting having abandoned JBJ and left him to his fate when they see that even keeping their heads down is not saving them from a vicious PAP onslaught and smear campaign that looks likely to end in legal action to disqualify them from Parliament, just like the trumped-charges brought against JBJ in 1986.

It is worth bearing in mind the much quoted words from Martin Niemoller every time we see the comment that Amos was just a foul-mouthed brat who had it coming:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.


Martin Niemoller

Once you let your freedom be taken away you never get it back.


  1. Be a good Singaporean and keep your opinions to yourself Amos and losers like you. If your opinion doesn’t fit in with the MAJORITY shut up and be an obedient citizen. Send all rebellious children to rehab until they wake up their idea. There is something wrong with them and they need to be fixed and learn to be obedient with our Asian values. Not ang moh values.

    Western freedom of speech and human rights is overated! To me and other Singaporeans who doesn’t hate Singapore, Amos is worse than all the other kids who steal, or those bullies who drive other weaker kids to depression, or violent kids who go into physical fights in school our outside, or those who join gangs and do drugs IMO. Only mad people dare to criticize Singapore and PAP. What Amos did is the worse, because he insult our creators. So I can understand why so many true Singaporeans who do not want to see Singapore go down in riots would desire to see Amos to be charged and put in prison, and some even openly wish worse things upon him once he is imprisoned, and be jobless when he is older as no REAL Singaporeans would want to hire him anymore. He insulted our father and disregard REAL Singaporeans emotions and sensitivity (religion and LKY)! That is very very unforgivable.

    As a God fearing lamb, blasphemy against our lord is an unforgivable sin as Jesus have said so HIMSELF. Being a child even if you are 3 years old is no excuse if you insult our CREATOR!!! Lee KY is the creator of Singapore and God is the creator of man. To insult them is to be ungrateful for your existance and a great sin. And to the eyes of us God-fearing righteous people, sinners deserve to be tortured and punished in hell for eternity. Being charged for blasphemy is the least of his worry. He will have to face GOD HIMSELF!

    If not for these harsh laws, Singaporeans will be very uncivilized people as LKY HIMSELF predicted. Singaporeans need harsh laws to control us. If not there will be riots and disorder like in the past.

    Everyone who makes insulting remarks should be charged as a criminal, and all rebellious children should be sent off for rehab to correct their thinking and ‘wake up their idea’. However, sinners against GOD like LGBT people and their communities do not have the right not to be offended, because they are offensive to Singapore’s conservative society. We are not a western society that people can su-ga su-ga anyhow ruan lai. Buai Sai Buai Sai lahh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Responsive speech undersrtand!!!!


  2. If Amos was sentenced to jail, he would most likely serve a few weeks more considering he was remanded for 18 days prior 2nd June 2015. This obviously is not enough pain and suffering to deter any would be video producers who might thinking of following in Amos’s footsteps. By sentencing Amos to rtc for at least 18 months ,which is effectively jail , the deterrent effect is achieved. Amos will have the company of bigger stronger and much meaner teens. Amos being the scrawny sheltered teen would be beaten up regularly . Rtc is clearly not meant to rehabilitate Amos. Rtc is meant to make Amos suffer .


  3. Dear Kenneth, when your dad was around, I was way too young to know anything about politics. Now I know more, and would like to be pro-active. You mentioned we need to step forward and fight for our freedom without relying on Amos- okay, but how do we do that? I always try and post positive ‘we need freedom’ messages and I follow the Amos case, and I even posted the Martin Niemoller poem on my facebook (none of my friends bothered to say anything except my lovely Aunty V). So what more can I do?

    I have heard Dr. Chee and some other political figures say things like we need to practise social disobedience and risk going to jail – personally I don’t see what that achieves. On top of that, I can tell you I am unemployed and broke and hence cannot afford any of the legal staff I need to fight the govt or judicial system, I’m simply too poor to afford a court case – and I really won’t be able to live in prison, away from my loved ones. I’m not cut out for it.

    So what more can I do? I wish you were more elaborative on that point as I too would want to do something – that isn’t illegal or gets me thrown in jail. So what do you suggest? Thank you.


  4. KJ What Chiam said about singaporeans is correct in 1975 when i was about 9 years old i was selling newsletter at raffles place police drag me for a while until a opposition lawyer demand to release The police panicked and realeased me . The public were only watching from then all singaporeans they buy all the news letter This sums up the singaporean freedom and money is more important than freedom

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks, Kenneth, for the fact-finding about the “rehabilitation”. I bet the AG and judge, like myself and I’m sure many others, including those of the PAP leadership, don’t know all those things you found out about it, and just assume and trust that the programme is as what its name means. And so the judge proclaimed that reform and “rehabilitation” is the bedrock of our system of justice! Our ignorance as to what actually goes on under that nice name may be just like the ignorance seemingly even of top PAP persons, like Devan Nair even as President, and Goh Chock Tong even as PM, about what went on at detention under ISA. Recall Nair’s preface to Francis Seow’s book “To Catch a Tartar”, where he says he had not wanted to write it until he saw what Seow wrote about the tortures and was shocked. Recall too that Goh had promised, when LKY was away in Europe, an inquiry into on-goings within ISD when Vincent Cheng, Teo Soh Lung and the other “Marxist conspirators” of the 80s complained of slappings and cruel interrogations. When LKY returned, Goh promptly proclaimed that the inquiry was “no longer necessary as the complainants had withdrawn their accusations”. But the truth is that the inquiry was even more necessary, since their “withdrawal” was made under detention after they were rearrested precisely because of their public complain. So, Goh as PM seemed ignorant of real happenings within ISD, and assumed, as Nair did,
    that it “was as respectful and humane as like detentions under the British”. Only LKY, it seemed, knew! So, perhaps, what we need now is for judges, AG officials, the Cabinet and others to tour the “rehabilitation” centres under candid conditions and know what really goes on.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Someone told me last night that if Amos is sentenced to RT, he will probably be denied access to the internet. To a young person of Amos’ age, this will be like a death sentence. I know it would to me and I am four times Amos’ age.


    • Because adult prisoners have access to the internet.

      Also, Kenneth J believes that Amos actually gives a single rat’s ass about education when the kid has said he believes you can learn everything on the internet.

      Obviously, he didn’t learn what happens when a nerd like him get tossed into a place like RTC which explains why he openly defied the softball conditions and sentence gave to if daring the court to sentence him there.

      RTC stands for two things.

      Recruitment and Training of Criminals

      Moderator: Dear reader. Thank You for your feedback. We have deleted two lines of your response for containing unacceptably violent speech aimed at a 16 year old. Should you repeat the use of language of this nature your response will not be approved.


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