I think that District Judge Low Wee Pin got it absolutely right when he found Gary Yue Mun Yew guilty of two offences involving the incitement of violence via the internet but rejected the prosecutions call for a prison sentence. He fined him $6,000 for uploading a video clip and another $2,500 for posting a doctored photograph. On each count, the sentence could be up to five years’ jail or a fine, or both.
During sentencing, District Judge Low Wee Ping made it clear that the charges against Yue were based on the acts of posting electronic documents that contained incitement to violence. This, the judge stressed, was very different from the act of inciting violence (my emphasis).
The judge also said that the YouTube video and Yue’s comment (details below) were “without doubt, an incitement to political assassination of persons on the grand-stand” on National Day. But he ruled that Yue had no intent to incite violence (again my emphasis), saying Yue was “immature” and “attention-seeking”.
What the prosecution and judgement show is that the internet is not “injun territory” or Commancheria* or a lawless cowboy town, where laws don’t apply and criminals can escape detection via anonymity. But at the same time, the judge shows that commiting crimes on the internet do not mean that the ordinary rules of justice are thrown out in order to “frighten the chickens by killing brutally a monkey”.
Three cheers for this judge. Lawyers, of the do-good kind like Siow Kum Hong and Super Yadav, if it’s not illegal, offer to buy him a cuppa if you run into him. Send the bill to me, if he accepts. I believe do-good lawyers don’t earn much.
Gary Yue Mun Yew posted a video clip depicting the assassination of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat on the Facebook page of socio-political website Temasek Review at about 3pm on Aug 9, 2010.
Along with the video, Yue wrote the comment: “We should re-enact a live version of this on our own grand-stand during our national’s (sic) parade!!!!!”
… was also found guilty of posting a photograph on his Facebook profile in late July or early August 2010, which depicted Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner.
The face of Singapore’s former Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng was superimposed on the image of the prisoner.
The People’s Action Party logo was also displayed on the prisoner’s chest.
*In the 18th and 19th centuries, homeland of the Comanches (“Lords of the South Plains”). The Comanches traded with the Spanish, and later the Mexican and Texan lands adjacent to Comancheria, while other bands raided these territories, stealing horses, mules, cattle and maize, rather than exchange buffalo meat and hides for these items like the “good” Comanches. These bands complimented one another and gave the Comanches the upper hand over the Spanish, Mexicans and Texans, who didn’t know how to cope with the subtleties of the ”savages”.