Philippine national Ello Ed Mundsel Bello, 28, who made disparaging remarks about Singaporeans onFACEBOOK earlier this year, pleaded guilty to three charges on Wednesday (Aug 26).
He was convicted on one count under the Sedition Act, for promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility, and on two counts of providing false information to police. An additional charge under the Sedition Act, and another for lying to police, will be taken into consideration during sentencing.
In hisFACEBOOK post, Bello called Singaporeans “loosers (sic) in their own country”. “We take theirJOBS, their future, their women, and soon, we will evict all SG loosers out of their own country”, Bello added, saying that Singapore would be the “new Filipino state”.
The Filipino also stated that he would be “praying that disastors (sic) strike Singapore and more Singaporeans will die”. He will “celebrate” if this happens, he said.
He ended his Facebook post with the declaration: “REMEMBER PINOY BETTER AND STRONGER THAN STINKAPOREANS.”
Bello did this while employed as a nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, which subsequently dismissed him over the incident, after discovering through their own investigations that Bello had made three other online posts in the same vein in 2014.
In court on Wednesday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohubalan said that Bello’s comments were “xenophobic, derogatory and inflammatory” in nature, further aggravated by the fact that his comments were published to “an enormous audience”, and that Bello displayed a total lack of remorse for his actions.
Investigations revealed that he had regularly commented on reports and articles relating to Singapore, often in a “vile, derogatory and offensive” nature, and on sensitive issues such as race and nationality.
Bello’s comments came under the spotlight when they were posted on The Kaki News Network, aFACEBOOK page with a significant public following of 30,000FACEBOOKusers. The comments went viral, and were also the subject of several police reports made against Bello.
Alarmed by the hostility generated by his comments, Bello deleted them, and lodged a report with police, stating that he was “shocked and furious that these comments had been attributed to him”.
He told police on three occasions that he did not make the offending comments on Facebook, and that hisACCOUNT had been accessed without his permission. Bello only admitted to his lies in his fourth statement to police, when “he found he could not keep up the lie”, Bello’s lawyer, Mark Goh, said.
Mr Goh also told the court that as the “delicate golden threads” of race and religion that bind Singaporean society had not been touched on by his client’s comments, Bello should be granted a lower sentence of six weeks, as opposed to the prosecution’s submission of 20 weeks’ imprisonment.
In response, DPP Kumaresan told the court that comments of this nature are “detrimental to society” and “cannot be trivialized or underestimated”, especially in a cosmopolitan society like Singapore.
Bello will be sentenced on Sep 16.
For promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore, Bello could have received a fine of up to S$5,000 or a jailTERM of up to three years, or both.
For giving false information to police, Bello could have faced a jailTERM of up to one year, a fine of up to S$5,000, or both.