SINGAPORE: The couple behind socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS) – a 26-year-old Singaporean man and a 22-year-old Australian woman – were on Tuesday (Apr 14) each charged with seven counts of sedition.
Yang Kaiheng and Ai Takagi allegedly published seditious articles on the website between October 2013 and February 2015. One of these articles falsely claimed that an incident between police and some members of the public during a Thaipusam procession on Feb 3 had been sparked by a Filipino family’s complaint that the drums played during the procession upset their child. The contributor of the article posted on another website that the allegations made in the TRS piece were untrue.
Yang is Singaporean, while Ai Takagi is Australian.
According to the charge sheets, the particular articles have the “tendency to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different groups of people in Singapore, name, between ethnic Indians in Singapore and Philippine nationals in Singapore”.
The pair also face an eighth charge, this time under the Penal Code, for failing to produce documents to a police officer from the Criminal Investigation Department.
Under the Sedition Act, the duo are liable, on conviction for a first offence, to a fine of up to S$5,000 or to imprisonment for a term of up to three years, or to both. As for the charge under the Penal Code, they are punishable with imprisonment of a maximum of one month, or a maximum fine of S$1,500, or both.
Court bail for each was set at S$20,000, and the case will be mentioned again on May 12.
Singaporeans generally welcomed the news.
“A foreigner trying to stir racial strife in Singapore,” said Anita Gooi, 27 a financial analyst.
“She should be permanently barred from entering this country.”