A self-employed man was sentenced to three weeks in jail on Monday for slapping teenage blogger Amos Yee outside the State Courts last month.
Neo Gim Huah, 49, was charged in court on Monday. He was not represented and gave a long mitigation plea in Chinese, explaining why he did it. He told the court earlier he wanted to teach Yee a lesson.
Neo, who runs his own air-conditioning and electrical engineering business, said he had taken offence at portions of the video posted online by Yee which he found disrespectful to Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
He closely monitored the case and intended to confront and slap the blogger before his first two court appearances as he felt that the teenager’s actions had portrayed Singapore in a negative light.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Winston Man said Neo initially restrained himself and did not confront Yee until his third court appearance on April 30 when he realised the teenager had flouted his bail conditions.
Neo also believed that it would be difficult for the criminal justice system to deal effectively with Yee because of his age.
On the afternoon of April 30, he waited at the State Courts for Yee to arrive. He knew the media was present when he slapped the blogger, and deliberately committed the offence as he wanted the assault to be publicised “so that the world at large would know that the victim was being taught a lesson”.
Neo was arrested at about 2am the next day.
Arguing for a sentence of two weeks’ jail, DPP Man said Neo’s offence was pre-meditated and featured a strong element of vigilantism, which undermined law enforcement mechanisms and the criminal justice system.
“Public confidence in law enforcement mechanics and the criminal justice system will also be eroded if there is a widespread perception that it is acceptable to take the law into one’s own hands and resort to violence in order to address a perceived injustice,” he said.
Neo said in his mitigation letter that Yee had been disrespectful to Singapore’s founding father and insulted him, making all of Mr Lee’s contributions “worthless”.
He said Yee, whom he described as a “clever child”, had let everyone down.
“What I feel is what everybody is feeling,” he said.
Slapping him would instil fear in the teenager, let him know what the ways of the world are and teach him a lesson, Neo said.
He said he knew it was wrong to slap Yee but could not control himself.
He could be jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $5,000.