Sedition. Its real. Australian Jailed in Singapore
THE PRICE OF FREE SPEECH
Extracted from an article published by the AFP online recently is a reminder of how real the much debated and often ignored sedition laws are. It highlights the very real dangers of toying with the kind of controversial and insensitive conduct the Malaysian Bar, Bersih and the opposition in general have managed to get away with for decades.
A tolerant government must not be seen as an ineffective government. Thus far Malaysia’s online media, especially those portals in the camp of the diverse opposition groups and ‘civil societies’ movements have managed to get away with publishing a rash of unfounded allegations, rumours and hate speech of the most divisive, provocative and precipitous kind.
Each of the articles and statements by these groups are capable of and have been inciting racial hatred, division whilst also promoting religious bigotry. All of these fall squarely into the category of sedition. Most of them have been without legal consequence. But not for much longer it seems, taking the cue from Singapore.
The Singapore government,a government often held up by the opposition in Malaysia as their role model has perhaps done them all a favour by handing down a harsh sentence against an Australian citizen of Japanese extraction for the offence of what Singapore considers sedition: publishing ‘seditious material’. By Malaysian standards the material published by this woman is tame.
There is a lesson for Malaysia’s opposition with the Singapore government coming down hard on the kind of material and conduct promoted by the Malaysian Bar and the Malaysian opposition and their online portals.
In this particular case (below), the bells appear to be ringing loud for those who for such a long time have incited rebellion, hatred, social, racial and religious division in Malaysia’s multi ethnic, multi religious society.
A timely reminder of what awaits the Ambigas, the Malaysian Bar, the Hannah Yeoh’s, the Maria Chin Abdullahs, the 80 or so foreign funded NGO’s and people like Eric Paulson and Amrick Singh Siddhu.
The lesson in Singapore’s jailing of an 8 months pregnant woman could not have come sooner.
SINGAPORE SOUNDS WARNING BELLS-NO ABSOLUTE FREEDOMS ANYWHERE
Singapore (AFP) – An Australian woman whose website published made-up stories about foreigners that prosecutors said incited racial hatred was jailed in Singapore Wednesday after falling foul of colonial-era sedition laws.
Ai Takagi was jailed for 10 months, the stiffest sentence ever imposed for the offence in strictly governed Singapore, which clamps down hard on any activity seen as promoting racial and class hatred.
Takagi was the Australia-based editor and owner of “The Real Singapore”, which enjoyed huge popularity but was shut down after she and her Singaporean husband were arrested while visiting the island last year.
Prosecutors said Takagi, 23, posted fabricated stories to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in online advertising revenues for her site, which also had a Facebook page with a large following.
District Judge Salina Ishak said a strong sentence was needed because Takagi was inciting “vitriol and hatred” against all foreigners in Singapore.
Takagi, who is eight weeks pregnant with her first child, read an apology in court before the sentence was handed down.
She was given a month to settle her personal affairs before serving her prison sentence.
“Before this case started, I was not fully aware of the level of sensitivity needed when dealing with topics related to racial and religious issues in Singapore,” she said in court.
“I sincerely apologise for the harm I have caused through my actions,” said the Japanese-Australian law student, who expressed hope that she would someday be allowed to settle permanently in Singapore.
– Huge foreign presence –
Singapore’s sedition laws make it an offence to promote hostility between different races or classes in the multiracial society, which is mainly ethnic Chinese with large Malay and Indian minorities.
But critics say sedition laws, dating back to British colonial rule, can be used to clamp down on free speech.
About 40 percent of the labour-starved island’s 5.5 million people are foreigners, many of them from China, India and the Philippines.
Singapore has also cracked down on foreigners for sedition.
Last September Filipino nurse Ello Ed Mundsel Bello, 29, was jailed for four months after insulting Singaporeans online and calling on his countrymen to take over the city-state.
Takagi had pleaded guilty to four counts of sedition lodged against her and her Singaporean husband, Yang Kaiheng, 27.
The cases included a fabricated article which said that a Filipino family instigated a fracas at a Hindu festival, and another alleging that a Chinese woman made her grandson urinate into a bottle inside a metro train.
Yang, however, is fighting the charges and has pleaded not guilty.
They were also charged with withholding from police information on the website’s advertising revenues, which were estimated at Sg$473,000 ($342,000) over a 17-month period.
Each sedition charge carries a penalty of up to three years in jail and a maximum fine of Sg$5,000 ($3,620), or both.