SINGAPORE: A Singaporean teenager arrested for posting an expletive-laden YouTube video attacking the country’s late founding leader Lee Kuan Yew and Christianity was charged Tuesday with jailable offenses including hurting religious feelings.
Amos Yee, a slight student, smiled and fidgeted as charges were read to him in a district court. He was released on Sg$20,000 ($14,500) bail.
Yee, who at 16 is old enough to be tried as an adult, was already known in the local YouTube community for humorous postings and a bit role as a child actor in a comedy movie called “We Not Naughty”.
Yee, who wore a dark T-shirt over beige trousers and rubber flip-flops, was slapped with three separate charges, including one for actions that have the “deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings of any person”.
Yee was also charged with putting into circulation an obscene object as well as for threatening, abusive or insulting communication under the city-state’s newly enacted Protection from Harassment Act.
In an eight-minute video titled “Lee Kuan Yew is finally dead” Yee launched a scathing attack on the 91-year-old political patriarch who was cremated after a state funeral Sunday.
In the video, Yee, who was arrested on the day of the funeral, also likened the city-state’s first prime minister to Jesus as he launched a tirade against Christianity.
He called Lee, who did not profess any religion, a “horrible person” and challenged the former leader’s son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, to sue him.
“But I am going to compare him with someone that people haven’t really mentioned before—Jesus,” Yee said on the YouTube video.
“They are both power-hungry and malicious but deceive others into thinking they are compassionate and kind.”
The judge ordered Yee to refrain from making any social media postings while the case is pending.
The next hearing is scheduled for April 17.
Outside the courtroom, his teary-eyed father clasped his hands and told reporters: “I would like to take this opportunity to say very sorry to PM Lee”.
His son smiled and waved to reporters as they left the court building.