A lot has been BSed about Amos Yee (Below* is something I came across on Facebook by someone who believes that convicted drug mules should not only not be hanged, and not caned, but be put up in five-star hotel suites and given food from Tung Loke daily.).
Me? I think it’s wrong that he is charged under the Protection from Harassment Act. He should not be charged under any law for his bad, loitish but non-violent behaviour. But sadly in today’s environment, using the law is the only way society can show its outrage at breaches of accepted norms of behaviour.
In the bad old days when Harry’s Law was the law, Amos’s dad would cane him six times and then say, “I’ve punished my son for his bad behaviour. Sorry leh for offence caused.”
We’d all move on. Boy got what he deserved, no damage done to his long term prospects.
Today Maruah, AWARE, Mad Dog Chee, Cherian George** and all the other good-heatred but misguided ang moh tua kee kay pohs would be yelling for the father to be jailed.
And if he didn’t cane his son, the police would pay him a visit and suggest that he did so. If he demurred, they’d offer to do it for him. If he further demurred, they’d take father and son in for questioning. If a spell in custody, didn’t soften up dad’s reluctance to allow his son to be caned, then there would be an accident involving the boy.
He’d get a black eye or two or a broken arm: accident leh, slipped on a bar of soap.
There would be be nods and winks, and we’d move on.
Well it seems that Amos Yee’s parents have hit on a variation of caning Amos or allowing him to be caned: they refused to cough up bail, allowing him to remain behind bars over the weekend and on Monday. No one has yet come forward to bail him out.
A bail review will be held later today at 4 pm while the next pre-trial conference has been scheduled for 13th May at 4 pm.
Err where are his friends like Roy, TOC? Not posting bail for him? Talk is cheap. Walk the talk, post bail. AGC was so kind as to ask the court to allow anyone to post bail for Amos, not just his parents. Yet no-one has yet come forward to bail him out. Certainly not the ang moh tua kee human rights activists like Kirsten Han (wrote a piece on him in Yahoo). They leaving him to rot in jail, while they proclaim his right (duty?) to slime one Harry Lee Kuan Yew, and hurt the feelings of 20-odd S’poreans? Seems, he’s a flag, not a human being to these ang moh tua kees.
I hope that if he comes out of remand, a more sober person, apologises for his behaviour and promises to behave himself in future, the authorities should drop the charges.
My serious point, is that society has to come up with modern variants of parents using or authorising corporal punishment. Using the majesty of the law for bad, loutish but non-violent behaviour by minors, demeans the law. But excusing Amos Yee’s behaviour as merely “boundary-crossing” (see below*) is equally unacceptable. But then what would expect of a drug mule groupie who thinks that convicted drug mules deserve the good life: air-cobn cells, no caning, Crystal Jade food.
Society’s anger at its rules being broken should be allowed to manifest itself without affecting the boy’s future too much. The issue is how without invoking the law and without vigilantism.
Maybe “six of the best” administered or sanctioned by the parents should be politically correct once more? Btw, LKY was a fan of “six of the best”. A friend who had the dubious honour of sitting beside LKY at two lunches (overseas) said that at one of them LKY was talking of lining up journalists against the wall and giving them “six of the best”.
But let’s end with three cheers for the parents: they are punishing Amos Yee in the right way.
*A 16-year-old is spending the weekend in prison because of a YouTube video. His parents have decided not to post bail. It’s likely they’re holding back for fear the boy might breach some very onerous conditions imposed by the court. I imagine it must be stressful to have a child who insists on pushing boundaries – pushing hard despite knowing full well that doing so might mean serious trouble. The boy’s parents must be under immense pressure***.
But what boundaries did this kid breach? He insulted a dead politician. He made fun of a religious figure. He was rude. He was arrogant. He was “dumb” not to back down. And when authorities hauled him off to court, he smiled and ate a banana. How dare he? This boy, this attention-seeking child who won’t play by the rules we’ve all been conditioned to follow.
Twenty-one people thought it was their duty as upstanding citizens to report the boy for his behavior. The fabric of our society is apparently so fragile, so poorly woven together, one YouTube video is all it takes to tear us apart.
No one seems to be asking why we think so little of this fabric. Why are we not made of stronger stuff?
Even before the boy was arrested, one man openly fantasized about castrating the child and stuffing his private parts into his mouth. Online, other people said he should be put in prison, whipped, whacked, exiled. When the police came for him, a collective squeal of glee erupted across the Internet. Adults celebrated. They knew this would happen. It served him right. The kid, apparently, had it coming. He was fully aware that he’d crossed some invisible line, but he was not repentant. Even worse, he appeared to relish the limelight.
But was the line was in the right place, or even necessary to begin with?
And now, the boy is spending the weekend in prison. Police handcuffed him when they led him out of court. He is to be tried as an adult.
Twenty-one Singaporeans can congratulate themselves for defending the nation against a 16-year-old. For safeguarding the boundaries. For being offended enough, concerned enough, patriotic enough to set the police on a child.
And the rest of us? The rest of us should play happily and gratefully in the corner we’ve so conscientiously painted ourselves into. The rest of must remember never to participate in the dangerous act of boundary-crossing. A 16-year-old did, and he is now being treated like a criminal – because jailing a child makes Singapore a much better place.
Remember the person behind this angst is a groupie of convicted drug mule groupies, loving them to distraction. And despite her angst over Amos, why didn’t she post bail? Talk is cheap, walk the talk. But then money talks, BS walks.
**Cherian George, the Director of Asia Journalism Fellowship, cautioned people against treating Amos as an adult in a widely shared Facebook post. He pointed out that under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Amos is still a child, and regardless of how much he seeks publicity, he is at a stage of life where he needs to be protected—even from himself. Quoting Article 40 of the Convention, Cherian explains:
“Every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law” must be “treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child’s sense of dignity and worth” – which means, among other things, that states must guarantee that the child has “his or her privacy fully respected at all stages of the proceedings”.
***Well they didn’t bring him up the right way, did they? Though by refusing to bail him, they are atoning for that oversight.