12 Sept 2005

Two bloggers charged under Sedition Act over racist remarks

So it appears that the surveillance of the internet in Singapore is working well then...
By Pearl Forss, Channel NewsAsia

SINGAPORE : For the first time in Singapore, two bloggers have been charged under the Sedition Act with making racist remarks.

Twenty-five-year-old Nicholas Lim Yew faces two charges and 27-year-old Benjamin Koh Song Huat faces three.

A subordinate court was told that both their blogs had racist content, which sparked off a heated discussion online.

The charges read that Lim had, on 16 and 17 June 2005, posted racist remarks on the general discussion forum of www.doggiesite.com.

Koh was alleged to have done the same on 12, 15 and 17 June on another website, www.upsaid.com.

In doing so, they are alleged to have committed an act which had a seditious tendency.

This is defined as promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races of the population of Singapore.

Both men are out on bail of S$10,000 each.

The case is expected be heard 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. - CNA /ct

Related Link:
Tomorrow.sg and Racist Blog
Relevant Portion of Sedition Act from Singsingapore

I am not a Freedom of Speech absolutist but I am aware that sometimes governments use certain tactics in an attempt to justify legitimate political issues and debates not reaching the population of certain countries and so I have provided links to two very important sites:

"We believe that the benefits of Freenet, for example for dissidents in countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, far outweigh the dangers of paedophilia or terrorist information being distributed over the system."

Ian Clarke, Freenet

The Free Network Project

I have also looked up Sedition on wiki and got quite a shock...

Sedition refers to a legal designation of non-overt conduct that is deemed by a legal authority as being acts of treason, and hence deserving of legal punishment. The term is deprecated in most countries, though equivalent language may still be in use in totalitarian and fascist jurisdictions.

Critical speech, political organization, and mere association between individuals may be considered as "sedition." And though such behaviours may be common in a free society, in societies where sedition laws exist the acts and behaviours which qualify are highly subjective, and typically left to the whims of state agents. Legal definitons of sedition often include subversion of a constitution, or incitement to rebellion or insurrection toward the lawful authority. Sedition may include any commotion, though not aimed at direct and open violence against the laws.

Because "sedition" is typically considered the subvert act, the overt acts that may be prosecutable under "sedition" laws vary from one legal code to another. Where those legal codes have a traceable history, there is also a record of the change of definition for what constituted sedition at certain points in history. This overview has served to develop a sociological definition of sedition as well, within study of persecution.

The legal difference between sedition and treason consists primarily in the subjective ultimate object of the violation to the public peace. Sedition does not consist of "levying war" against a government nor of "adhering to [its] enemies, giving them aid and comfort" (Article Three, U.S. Constitution). Nor does it consist, in most representative democracies, of peaceful, non-violent protest against a government, nor of attempting to change the government by democratic means (such as direct democracy or constitutional convention).


Anonymous said...


my friend send me this link about the legal aspects of the "event"...

can go check it out...

man, i dun know....

Anonymous said...

This is too much. Sedition is something much more serious than this surely??

dfgd said...

I have been trying to find a good definition of sedition, other than the one contained in the Sedition Act of Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Sedition = when you utter something agnst the PAP and it reaches more than two ears.


chemgen said...

The use of the Sedition Act seems deliberately excessive and a legal overkill. It is probably intended to remind Singaporeans that such an Act actually exists, regardless if it is anachronistic or not, and lies in the hands of the powers that be. Apart from that, there is no space for hate speech in the internet. The authorities finally did something right in the internet. I actually have no sympathy for the racists if what they did was indeed inflammatory. From comments by people at Doggiesite, it looks like the allegations of hate rhetoric made are based on fact this time.


Anonymous said...

I think this has nothing to do with free speech. I remember learning about Hitler and how he galvanised an entire nations to do unspeakable things to Jews. And I thought. WHY DIDN'T ANYONE STOP HIM???

It's one thing to state your opinion in an objective manner, about how you perceive racial ties in Singapore to be, quite another to post material that incites racial hatred. It's not as if Singapore has never experienced racial conflict before. One would have thought that people would refrain from posting their personal racist views on the internet, in times like these.

It's not about violating free speech, so get off your political hobbyhorse.

Mr Miyagi said...

Great wiki on the matter here.

Guttercat said...

Shouldn't 99.99% of $ingapurrean taxi drivers be charged with sedition by now?

dfgd said...

I believe the entire population of planet earth could be jailed assuming the sedition act can be used for something and anything you might have said in the last 7 years.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember Lee Kuan Yew saying a while back that Malays could not be trusted enough to be part of a machine-gun unit in the army.

I don't remember the sedition act being discussed then.

Anonymous said...

Refer to Mr Wang's blog for good posts on this issue

- anon 10:20 PM

Anonymous said...

too many sensitive topics (race, religion, nepotism, politician salary, temasek, SPH, NKF, civil disobedience, homosexuality, white elephants, chinese chauvinism...), very hard to start discussion on anything; silence is deafening