Amos Yee is a 16 year old boy who lives in Singapore. By Singapore’s standard, Amos is probably not considered a typical Singapore boy. He does not seem to conform to the mould that makes Singaporeans so unique – “law-abiding” (only while in Singapore) and totally subservient to the government. In a sense, he may be considered a “rebellious” kid by most standards. Actually, most growing up kids are somewhat rebellious to some extent. Like Nemo, they are just yearning to discover the world that they have yet seen. Recently, Amos made himself to the world stage, having been arrested for posting an “obscene” YouTube that portrayed the late Lee Kuan Yew (longest-serving Prime Minister of Singapore) in a less than favourable light.
For posting the video (watch video here), Amos incurred the wrath of some Lee-worshipping citizens. Reportedly, about 20 people (apparently supporters of the ruling regime of the late Lee) reported to the police that Amos has caused social unrest, slandering Christianity and disrespect for the late Lee through his vulgar YouTube post. The police, efficient as ever, promptly came to arrest Amos, He was handcuffed and remanded in prison (remember, he is just child, read here about the Conventions on the Rights of a Child, for which Singapore is a signatory). Amos will soon be charged in a full court, not a juvenile court. Amos started an online appeal for funds to pay for his legal fees. The Singapore authorities barred him from using the internet, denying him the opportunity to raise funds for his defence.
Amongst those who must have felt injustice the way Amos was treated are three lawyers (read more here), Alfred Dodwell, Chong Jia Hao and Ervin Tan. They came forward to tell the court that they would be acting for Amos on a pro bono basis. A youth counsellor (not related to Amos) Mr Vincent Law offered the $20,000 bail for Amos and to be his counsellor. Mr Law had this to say: “I’m a Christian and it seems that the charge said that he made disparaging remarks against Christianity. I’m a Christian and I’m stepping up to say that I’m not offended.”
According to Wikipedia, Amos is definitely not cut out of the Singapore mould:
In 2011, Yee won awards for Best Short Film and Best Actor at The New Paper‘s First Film Fest for his film Jan, which depicts a boy trying to persuade his three friends to help a cancer-stricken girl. Yee, thirteen at the time, was described to have made the film “in his bedroom”. Jan reportedly led to Jack Neo, the chief judge of the event, casting Yee in a minor acting role in Neo’s film, We Not Naughty. Regarding Yee’s role, Neo said he “only has three scenes” in the movie.
Amos’ use of vulgarity in his video is certainly not acceptable. He needs to be tempered and learn some etiquette in social media behaviour. Hopefully with time, he will grow out of his youthful flamboyant language and realise his folly in the use of certain forms of expressions. Criticisms and expressions are perfectly fine. But when used in the public arena, the ability to express criticisms with grace is something Amos should learn to achieve. But for the full weight of the government come upon a 16 year old boy and to treat him the way Amos was dealt with, is indeed hysterical, as a reader of The Real Singapore wrote. Incidentally, the editors (or owners?) of this social media site, The Real Singapore are ironically being charged for “seditious articles”.
If a face may launch a thousand ships, a YouTube post may bring a regime down, just maybe.
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.