Amos Yee Refuses To Back Down, Bail Condition Stays As Trial Begins

After having been held in Changi Prison for one full week, teenage blogger Amos Yee’s bid to vary the conditions of his bail was thrown out today (May 6), after he held out on his terms.

Prosecutors offered to lower his bail amount by one-third to S$10,000 and not require him to report daily to Bedok Police Divisional Headquarters, provided the 16-year-old continues to go for psychiatric counselling. The ban on making postings on social media before his trial concludes, however, must still stand, while those that he had posted in breach of bail conditions have to be taken down.

Amos, however, refused to budge on all three fronts.

There have been many dramatic developments, including a stranger stepping forward as his bailor and another stranger assaulting him outside court, before Amos’ two-day trial for uploading an obscene image and content intending to wound the religious feelings of Christians begins tomorrow (May 7).

The latest emerged today when the court was told that Amos’ mother, Madam Mary Toh Ai Buay, had taken him to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) on April 3, three days after he was charged with criminal offences for content posted online. After attending two sessions, he refused to continue.

Asked today if he would resume the sessions in return for relaxed bail conditions, Amos indicated his refusal from the dock.

Decked in purple prison garb, Amos, who appeared in good spirits, frowned and shook his head when Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun called him a troubled person needing psychiatric help.

When Mr Hay mentioned Amos’ blogged about his bail conditions in “not-too-polite terms”, Amos grinned.

His lawyers Alfred Dodwell and Ervin Tan argued the ban on him posting online content is too broad and disproportionate, while the teenager felt taking down the posts in question was tantamount to an admission of guilt. Mr Dodwell said Amos has been on social media since the age of 8 and engaging online is “equivalent to drinking water” for the blogger, who has decided to stop schooling despite good results in the O Levels.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun retorted that the conditions were “not about drinking water”, as Amos would still be able to communicate privately with others and even shop online. “He wants to drink Coke,” Mr Hay said.

High Court judge Tay Yong Kwang questioned why it was so difficult to temporarily refrain from public online posts, and said the teenager would just have to learn to curb himself. With Amos’ refusal to go for psychiatric counselling, Justice Tay said he saw no reason to vary the bail conditions.

The prosecution said it only learnt yesterday (May 5) about Amos’ visits to the IMH after an officer from the Ang Mo Kio Police Divisional Headquarters contacted Mdm Toh that afternoon to follow up on a police report she had made on March 29.

Contrary to reports that she had lodged the report against her son, Mdm Toh had instead done so “as a formal apology to the nation”, after her son’s YouTube video with remarks made about former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew went viral.

She had stated in the police report that she would like to seek help from “the proper agency” for her son as she was unable to get through to him and was afraid the situation might “escalate further”. But she told the police yesterday that she no longer wanted to provide a statement.

The hearing today was attended by civil society activists including Mr Vincent Law, the family and youth counsellor who posted Amos’ bail initially, as well as blogger Roy Ngerng.

Outside court, Mdm Toh told reporters that as she was making the report in Ang Mo Kio that day, police from Bedok were on their way to arrest her son. She received a call from her husband shortly after stepping out of the police station, she said.

Mdm Toh said she had taken Amos to IMH to understand why he seemed “too daring” and feared nothing, and not to find out if he was insane. Amos did well enough in his O Levels to qualify for a junior college, but did not like the Singapore school system, she added.

Meanwhile, police told TODAY that investigations on the 49-year-old man arrested in connection with Amos’ slapping incident on April 30 are ongoing.



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