No Human Rights for Bloggers in Singapore

Two bloggers charged under Sedition Act over racist remarks,” by Pearl Forss, Channel NewsAsia, 12 September 2005, (from Slashdot).

Quoted in full, emphasis mine

Two bloggers have been charged with sedition for posting racist [sic — tdaxp] comments online.

This is the first time bloggers are being charged in Singapore and it is sending shockwaves through the local blogging community.

Lawyers say the last time the sedition act was invoked in Singapore was at least 10 years ago.

Twenty-five-year-old Nicholas Lim Yew and 27-year-old Benjamin Koh Song Huat are being accused of posting racist comments on an online forum and on their blog site.

They are both being charged with committing a seditious act, by promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between races in Singapore.

They were not represented by defence lawyers and were granted bail of S$10,000 each.

This charge came as a shock to many in the blogging community.

Said Singaporean blogger Benjamin Lee (Mr Miyagi):” A lot of them will be looking at their blogs and wondering if they made any legally seditious remarks. I think because of the way this will be played up, it’s negative publicity for the Singapore blogging community.”

“Currently if you surf the net you will come across a lot of bloggers making such comments. You will probably see a drop in such cases henceforth. At the moment I am not aware of any cases except of a case in Iran where bloggers are charged. But Iran has a different legal system from Singapore,” said Leonard Loo, managing partner of Leonard Loo & Co Advocates & Solicitors.

Channel NewsAsia understands that the Media Development Authority had asked host servers to remove a racist [sic — tdaxp] blog from the web.

Police are now investigating this matter.

While many racist blogs by Singaporeans can be found online, the blogging community is also quick to criticize any racist comments.

Channel NewsAsia has received many emails from viewers informing us about a few racist sites.

Viewers said they were “appalled as well as disappointed that a Singaporean could condemn” other fellow Singaporeans of a different race.

Lawyers warn that anybody who forwards seditious remarks to others via email can also be charged with abetment.

The case is expected to be heard in court again on September 21.

A person is deemed to have committed an offence under the Sedition Act if he performs any act which has a seditious tendency, or conspires with any person to do so.

It is also an offence to utter any seditious words or to print, publish, sell, distribute, reproduce or import any seditious publication.

First time offenders can be fined up to S$5,000, or jailed up to three years, or both.

For subsequent offences, they can be jailed up to five years and have their seditious publications forfeited and destroyed

And so much good has been given by the Singapore blogosphere!