Silence Over US Remand Of Amos Yee Exposes Some Hypocrisy: Minister

Even though Singapore’s enfant terrible Amos Yee isn’t in his home country right now, he’s still making headlines in the United States (US).

After getting into trouble with the law in Singapore, the US gave him asylum. But to nobody’s surprise, he got into trouble with the law in the US too.

However, in contrast to the uproar from supporters when he was jailed in Singapore, they’re now silent over his remand in the US.


This was pointed out by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, who added that “hypocrisy has many shades”.

Amos Yee made derogatory remarks on religion

In a Facebook post on Sunday (14 Nov), Minister Shanmugam shared some thoughts on the saga of 23-year-old Amos Yee.


He said Amos first fell afoul of the law in Singapore when he made derogatory remarks about the religious beliefs of Christians and Muslims, including using vulgarities.

As any Singaporean should know, that’s illegal here, and people who do that are usually charged.

When founding father Lee Kuan Yew passed away in 2015, he also uploaded a video criticising him and posted a crude cartoon of Mr Lee.

Amos championed by US media

Amos was subsequently arrested and charged.

However, he was “championed by some Singaporeans and the American media”, Minister Shanmugam said.


Astoundingly, The New Yorker even described Amos as “exactly the kind of person you would one day want… maybe even running your country”.

For those who’re sceptical that anyone would’ve written that, we’ve dug up the New Yorker article from 2015, which is still online (emphasis ours):


Singapore accused of restricting free speech

Apparently, there was the feeling, even by some people in Singapore, that Amos was being persecuted for exercising “free speech”.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Singapore Government “has gone to extraordinary lengths to restrict Yee’s free expression rights”.

Here’s the relevant passage from HRW’s 2015 article calling for Amos’ exoneration (emphasis ours):


In line with the “free speech” theme, people also held up a banner outside court calling for him to be freed, according to this Channel NewsAsia (CNA) tweet.


Amos banned from social media after getting asylum

In 2017, Amos was granted asylum in the US.

However, he failed to live happily ever after, despite being freed from the shackles of Singapore.

In May 2018, his YouTube channel was shut down for violating community guidelines. He had allegedly posted videos defending paedophilia.

In Dec 2018, he was banned from Facebook and Twitter for allegedly posting pro-paedophilia messages.

Minister Shanmugam noted that none of his supporters said anything about that.

Not even HRW, who was concerned when Singapore banned him from posting content online when his case was ongoing.

Amos gets into trouble with the law

Finally, Amos got into trouble with the law again – this time in the US.

In 2020, he was charged with solicitation and possessing child porn after allegedly exchanging “thousands” of lewd messages with a 14-year-old girl.

Amos Yee Charged Over Lewd Messages With 14-Year-Old, US Asylum Status On The Line

Just last month, he was reportedly remanded in a US prison over 18 charges of indecent behaviour.

Amos Yee Remanded In US For Indecent Behaviour, May Be Deported To S’pore

‘Not a squeak’ from supporters

Now that Amos Yee has been arrested and even remanded in the US, “not a squeak” has been heard from those who’d previously championed him, Minister Shanmugam said.

The minister also sarcastically asked,

New Yorker still thinks he is fit to run the USA perhaps?

He also said that the “small group of Singaporeans” who used Amos to “run down Singapore” are also “strangely quiet”.

Stark difference in responses to Amos’ jailing

Minister Shanmugam also shared a LinkedIn post by litigator Adrian Tan who highlighted a stark difference.

When Amos was arrested and jailed in Singapore, there was an “international outcry” over the alleged restricting of his free speech.


But now he’s been arrested and jailed in the US, nobody seems to be making any noise even though he’s essentially facing punishment for doing the same thing: exercising his free speech.

And that, Minister Shanmugam said, exposes “some hypocrisy”.

Next court date on 2 Dec

Amos, who is currently on remand in Chicago, has asked for more time to “talk to loved ones” about an offer made by a special prosecutor, reported CNA.

His next court date will be on 2 Dec, according to his inmate records from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.


It also says that he’s being held on a bond of S$1.35 million (US$1 million).

If he’s found guilty of his charges, we could see a reluctant homecoming—he might lose his asylum status and be deported back to Singapore.

Saga raises questions over attitudes towards free speech

For someone so young, Amos Yee has had more than his fair share of controversy for a lifetime.

But if there’s anything positive about this saga, it’s perhaps raised some questions over our attitudes towards free speech and censorship.

It may also have overturned our assumptions over what’s the right thing to do with those who cross the line. Perhaps there’s no right answer, and it depends on the case.

Whatever you may have thought of Amos and his case in 2015, has it changed now?

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Featured image adapted from K Shanmugam Sc on Facebook and Cook County Sheriff’s Office.