The Amos Yee debate should educate more than it offends

Seeing someone have the sheer guts to openly challenge the government isn’t something you’d see everyday in Singapore.

Amos Yee, now in remand, treads on hot water by posting on social media platforms, despite the terms and conditions of bail made clear to him.

Even worse than his admittedly pointed posts, however, is the significant amount of negativity spread by netizens (a quick browse through Amos’ Facebook page should give you the idea).

Let’s not forget the the full grown man with nothing better to do than to slap Amos.

Instead of bashing Amos, Singaporeans can make better use of the issue to educate themselves.

We make life easier for you by compiling some views surrounding the issue (omg that’s like doing your homework for you!) that are worth the read, and a little reflecting on.

1. A word of advice to Amos

Among the many responses to Amos’ WordPress post, “The Ridiculous Terms of My Bail”, one made us think:

Amos Yee 1Source

Amos Yee 1 (1)


“Don’t resent so many things in your life as it will cause you to miss out more stuff while being blind to the opinions that might had been available to you.”

We think the same can be said about pointlessly hating on Amos.

2. Roy Ngerng prompts us to discuss the morality of our laws

Amos Yee 2Source

Despite the obvious bias in Roy Ngerng’s recent blog post, he did raise points to think about:

“Here was a 16-year-old boy who was feeling the full force of the government come down on him. Here was a boy who spoke up for what he believed in and was hunted down for it.”

“I think he deserves to be who he wants to be, just like any of us. I think he deserves to be himself.

Some say, he should be jailed because he scolded Lee Kuan Yew. But who among of us have not used even worst words against others. Remember those who called Dr Chee Soon Juan names and those who dragged his name through the mud? They are from the same camp who now malign Amos.”

Ngerng rejects the G’s way of punishing Amos because of two main reasons: his age and because he was “being himself”. And although Roy may have been unnecessarily sappy, we now have some grounds to start considering how we can justify the morality of free speech.

3. Popular bookstore shows you how not to crack Amos Yee jokes


Moral of the story: If you want people to buy your books, don’t make inappropriate jokes about giving cookies an infamous guy who got slapped.

4. K Shanmugam tells us why we shouldn’t take the law into our own hands

At a community event on Saturday (2 May), he also addressed concerns about Amos being charged at his age.

“Whether one is guilty, not guilty; what are the defences available, whether the fact of background or youth – these are all factors for the courts to consider. People have said to me: ‘Amos is young, why was he charged?’ I have refrained from commenting because those matters can be brought up in court and we have amended the law quite substantially now, to let the Court take into account these factors.”

We leave it up to you to decide if the Court is fully capable of being just. Just, no more slapping.

5. Singapore Kindness Movement knows what it takes to be kind

Seems like a pep talk from Singa the Lion which might as well be titled ‘How to Be Civilised’ is quite timely, despite the modern cosmopolitan city we’re supposed to be.

6. The New Yorker boldly points out what Singapore needs

Journalist Nathan Keller disagrees with the charges against Amos in his article, but with reason:

“Yee’s arrest doesn’t just underscore his complaints about Singapore’s backwardness on rights and freedom. It shows the country’s dire need for cultural education through intelligent dissent.”

“The citizens of developed nations in the twenty-first century should not need to be told that free expression is a basic attribute of political health. It’s part of Yee’s precocity to realize that a population molded into sheeplike complaisance is ideologically vulnerable.”

7. LIFT thinks a healthy debate can give you a better future

In response to Heller’s article on Amos Yee, blogger LIFT makes a stand on broadening our perspectives:

Amos Yee 3Source

8. Amos Yee himself gets us thinking

Surely we can’t disagree that being somewhat intelligent, Amos is capable of a decent (allbeit sarcastic) argument.

As for dissing Jian Hao, some laugh because they can relate to Amos’ partial truth about the Singapore online community.

We’re not sure if Amos’ motive was to joke and/or make a point, but we think it raises timely questions about the quality of local content online.

Ultimately, we’ll leave it up to you to ask and answer the questions.

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Featured image via Harian Nasional
With reference to The Heart Truths, Channel NewsAsia, Facebook, Channel NewsAsia, Facebook, The New Yorker, LIFT, Facebook