TRS Founder To Plead Guilty To Sedition Charges

In a surprising turn of events, Yang Kaiheng, founder of socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS), indicated yesterday that he wished to plead guilty to the seven sedition charges he faces.

Yang, 27, had originally claimed trial, denying he had posted inflammatory articles on the TRS website and Facebook page between 2013 and 2015. (See report…)

During the trial, which went on for seven days in March and April, Yang claimed his involvement in TRS was for only a month in 2012 after helping to set it up.

The trial was supposed to have resumed yesterday until his lawyer told the judge in chambers about his client’s intention to plead guilty.

During the trial, Yang claimed that his wife, Ai Takagi, 23, an Australian national of Japanese descent, was responsible for the day-to-day business and editorial content of TRS.

Between December 2013 and April 2015, TRS raked in almost half a million dollars in advertising revenue, the court heard.

In April, Yang claimed that he and Takagi had been inspired to start TRS after their Facebook page, which petitioned for the removal of new Member of Parliament (MP) Tin Pei Ling after the 2011 General Election, garnered about 60,000 likes.

But during cross-examination, Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan asked how this was possible when the couple had not yet met during the 2011 GE period.

DPP Kannan said he had a log of very personal and embarrassing WhatsApp messages that proved they had met only after the petition Facebook page was created.

Yang’s lawyer tried to interject, but Yang then conceded: “It’s okay, Your Honour, I admit I am lying.”

The next day, Yang again admitted to lying – this time for having falsely told the police he did not know that his friend, Mr Damien Koh, was involved in setting up TRS.

Yang had met Mr Koh, who later quit TRS, during their University of Queensland days.

Yang told the court: “I was being investigated for sedition during my interview. I didn’t want to implicate my friend. I was sure he had nothing to do with sedition in the TRS site.”

Yang turned up at the State Courts yesterday wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt and knee-length bermuda shorts.

He is expected to be back in court tomorrow.

If convicted of each charge under the Sedition Act, he faces up to three years’ jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Takagi pleaded guilty to sedition in March after also initially claiming trial and was jailed 10 months.

Now about five months pregnant,, she began serving her sentence on April 22.

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