Monday, July 10, 2006

5. Blogging in Singapore (News and Cases)

There have been many cases of defamation in Singapore, and people facing legal consequences for their inability to distinct between private and public blogging which involves expression of opinions and views.

We highlight a few cases in Singapore whereby legal actions were taken for online bloggers against their racist and offensive comments.

They were convicted under the Sedition Act (Chapter 290) in Singapore.

7th October 2005
Singapore Jailed Two Men For Making Racist Remarks about the Singapore Malay Muslims on their Blogs
The charges:
Benjamin Koh, 27, was jailed for one month.
Nicholas Lim, 25, was jailed for a day and fined $5k.

23rd November 2005
Third Racist Blogger Sentenced to 24 Months Supervised Probation
The charges:
Gan Huai Shi, 17, was given 24 months of supervised probation.
He will face the following during this period.
- Psychological evaluation
- Counselling sessions
- Post a $10,000 bond
- 180 hours of community service in Malay welfare homes

Two other cases where the bloggers were not convicted:

5th May 2005
Singapore Student Shuts Down Blog After Threat of Legal Action
Chen Jiahao, a former Public Service Commission scholar, who is pursuing his postgraduate studies in the United States, shut down his blog after he was threatened with legal actions by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star).
His public blog contained defamatory statements about A*Star's scholarship system and some of its policies requiring scholars to meet certain standards.
Chen claimed he was threatened with legal action, in emails from A*STAR's chairman Philip Yeo.
The blog was shut down last month.
In its place is a note from Chen, under his blog name of AcidFlask, apologizing for making remarks "which Mr Yeo felt were defamatory to him and A*Star".
He also promised not to mention the agency or Mr Yeo by name again at the website.

21st July 2006
Warning for Blogger who Posted Cartoon of Christ
A 21-year-old blogger, who flouted the Sedition Act by putting up an offensive cartoon of Jesus Christ on his blog has been let off with a warning, putting an end to an investigation that lasted more than three months.
In an e-mail statement, a police spokesman said: "After careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, in consultation with the Attorney-General's Chambers, we have decided to issue a stern warning to the offender in lieu of prosecution."
The man, who calls himself "Char", describes himself as an "ex-Christian-turned-free thinker", could have been jailed for up to three years, fined $5,000, or both, if convicted.
He was hauled up by police in March after they received a complaint from a person about a cartoon he had posted on his blog, or Internet journal, depicting Jesus as a zombie biting off a boy's head.
He is not the first blogger to escape jail time here for posting material deemed to be offensive to other races and religions.

Sources:
Singapore Statutes OnLine - Sedition Act (Chapter 290)
http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/

Thinking with Logic
http://scientificthinking.blogspot.com/

Chemical Generation Singapore
http://chemgen.blogspot.com/2005_11_01_chemgen_archive.html

Channelnewasia.com - Singapore Student Shuts Down Blog After Threat of Legal Action
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/145936/1/.html

AsiaMedia - Singapore: Warning for Blogger who Posted Cartoon of Christ

http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=49563

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