A Singaporean teenager who posted a YouTube video disparaging the late Lee Kuan Yew and Christianity was charged on Tuesday for insulting religious feelings and using defamatory language, local media reported. Amos Yee was arrested on Sunday and was charged in court for offences relating to an eight-minute video.
In the video, the 17-year-old called Lee a “horrible person,” compared him to Jesus Christ, and referred to Christians as “power hungry and malicious but deceive others into thinking that they are compassionate and kind,” the Independent reported.
He was charged on three counts -- one, making “remarks against Christianity, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of Christians in general,” another for “remarks about Mr Lee Kuan Yew which was intended to be heard and seen by persons likely to be distressed," and third for creating and transmitting obscene images, reportedly showing former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher engaged in an obscene act with Lee, according to Asia One.
Numerous complaints were reportedly lodged against the video, which led to Amos’ arrest on Sunday. His bail has been set at S$20,000 ($14,500) on the condition that he refrains from making any further posts on social media while the case is ongoing.
Chia Boon Teck, a lawyer who filed one of the police reports against Amos, told the Independent, that “there is a limit to freedom of speech. If the line separating freedom and offence is crossed, the person will have to face the consequences.”
The maximum penalty for deliberately hurting religious feelings in Singapore is three years of imprisonment and a fine. Deputy Police Commissioner Tan Chye Hee told reporters that police take a harsh view of speech seen as inciting religious tension. “Any person who uploads offensive content online with deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings of any person will be firmly dealt with in accordance with the law,” he said, according to ABC news.
Amos’ father told reporters that they would like to apologize to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is Lee Kuan Yew’s son. The video has been taken down, but others have reportedly uploaded it again on YouTube.