Monday, 6 July 2015

The Amos Yee Case: The Government Explains

Amos Yee given 4-week backdated jail sentence.

"... this case is most certainly not about freedom of speech and diversity of views. It is about the abuse of these freedom. "

"Just as Amos Yee's intentional actions led to his conviction, so too did his intentional actions lead to his remand".


PP v Amos Yee Pang Sang

Prosecution's Skeletal Submissions on Sentencing

1. At the outset, it is critical to reiterate what this case is about. It is most certainly not about the freedom of speech and the diversity of views. It is about the abuse of these freedoms. Unbridled speech without limits does not exist in any known society. Each society defines its own values and protects them. Religious harmony remains a key value in our society. So too is public decency. Under our laws, lines are drawn against acts that deliberately wound religious feelings and against the publication of images that have a tendency to deprave and corrupt. Amos Yee crossed those lines with deliberation and calculation. His actions led to his conviction.

2. Just as Amos Yee's intentional actions led to his conviction, so too did his intentional actions lead to his remand. Mention has been made by his counsel and by the media of the period spent by Amos in remand. What has been omitted from such mention is the fact that the period spent by Amos in remand has been entirely the result of his own decisions.

3. First, at the prosecution's suggestion, bail was offered since Amos was charged on 31 March 2015. But Amos deliberately breached bail conditions, which caused two sets of bailors (his parents and later a counsellor) to withdraw bail.

4. Secondly, at the prosecution's suggestion, probation was offered as an option upon Amos' conviction on 12 May 2015. Bail conditions were relaxed to allow him to go on bail for assessment by probation officers - but despite having agreed to be assessed for probation, he changed his mind and rejected probation.

5. Thirdly, the prosecution had also earlier suggested at the bail review hearing in the High Court on 6 May 2015 that he consider voluntarily continuing with psychiatric evaluation and / or counselling that he had started at IMH. Again, Amos spurned the suggestion. Had he voluntarily continued with the psychiatric evaluation and counselling, the last two weeks in remand in IMH ordered by your Honour (which order defence counsel had not objected to) could have been avoided.

6. The full details of Amos' conduct may be found in the chronology of events annexed at Annex A. Suffice to say that at every turn in these proceedings, Amos chose a course of action which led to remand and then prolonged that remand. This was despite the benefit of access to legal advice throughout the proceedings.

7. Finally, Amos persisted in re-posting the offensive materials which he was told by this Court to remove after his conviction, and unequivocally indicated his intention to keep the re-posting up indefinitely. The recalcitrance and persistent lack of remorse shown in this last act prompted the Prosecution's suggestion for an RTC suitability report. It appeared at that point that the structured discipline of the RTC regime provided the only solution to his recalcitrance as he insisted that he intended to continue posting the offending materials.

8. Since then there have been material changes which merit consideration in assessing the appropriate sentencing response.

9. First, at the hearing on 23 June 2015, Amos voluntarily removed the offending materials which he had re-posted and gave the Court a written undertaking not to re-post (see exhibit D7 at Annex B). This was no less than a significant repudiation of his previous posturing. It was an important acknowledgment that he finally accepted the gravity of what he had done and was willing to make amends by undoing it. The immediate catalyst for our initial request for an RTC report - that is, the recalcitrant re-posting of the offending materials and the avowed intention to maintain these re-postings - no longer exists.

10. Secondly, the prosecution now has the benefit of the report by Dr Cai Yi Ming who interviewed and observed Amos over the course of the last two weeks. Dr Cai has concluded that Amos has no mental disorder.

11. Crucially, Dr Cai reports that Amos has now admitted to him that he "would admit to his guilt and promised not to reoffend as he has realised what he did was against the law and could disrupt social harmony" and that he used his intelligence "in the wrong ways",

12. Dr Cai has also explained how early access to the Internet and early fame or success led to over-confidence and self-centredness on Amos' part. Dr Cai added, that Amos thinks highly of himself and "shows scant regard to the feelings of others and focuses on his needs most of the time". He has commented on how Amos has to learn to make decisions wisely to stay within the law.

13. These developments disclose material attitudinal shifts which are now relevant to your Honour's consideration of an appropriate sentence.

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