Personally I don’t like Amos Yee, the 16-year old who posted a Youtube rant cursing the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and the even later Jesus Christ. The kid has a smug look on his face and when he opens his mouth there’s the temptation to shut it with your fist. I’m going to exercise my right to be a prick but I’ll say – he’s got a face that’s looking for a good beating.
Unlike my fellow bloggers, I don’t want to turn him into some sort of martyr for free speech. I’d rather turn my attentions to people who are well….more sympathetic.
Unfortunately, the government has decided that Singapore needs a new martyr and so, in the wake of ensuring young Amos gets jail time for his online rants, they decided to slap another teenager who did something far worse with 10-days in detention.
Daryl Lim decided that he was bored and it would be laugh to try and beat up a couple of foreign workers. One fine day, young Mr. Lim and his mates decided to beat the crap out of a 48-year old Chinese National and then do a runner.
For beating the shit out of someone, young Daryl was sentenced to 10 days in detention and despite being involved in four incidents between September and October 2014, the judge decided that reformative training wasn’t necessary and somehow his probation officer decided the risk of him reoffending was rather low.
So here you have it – jail time for a kid who behaved stupidly online and as slap on the wrist for a young hooligan. What’s going on here?
Well, let’s start with the obvious. Although most sensible people would say that Amos’s actions were the lesser of two evils, he made the mistake of offending the powerful. Both Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and Jesus may have gone to their graves (Christians would argue that Jesus has gone further – he’s ascended to heaven and Mr. Lee did say he’ll raise again if he thinks Singapore is screwing up) both have power beyond the grave. If you insult Jesus, you could be striking up communal tensions. If you insult the late Mr. Lee you risk endangering Singapore’s social fabric. Hence, although young Amos kept his comments to cyberspace, he was deemed the greater threat.
Young Daryl by contrast realized that nobody really gives a shit if you beat the crap out of foreign workers. A few members of the Ka-ni-na and Pundek families might actually cheer you on from the sidelines for teaching those PRC’s and Kelings a thing or two about taking jobs from Singaporeans and daring to think they’re entitled to ride on the MRT alongside the respective Pundek’s and Ka-ni-na’s (Pundeks an d Ka-Ni-Na’s forget that unlike the foreign workers they don’t actually do work hence they’re in no danger of having their jobs stolen – that is if you consider drinking all day a job - oh wait, the workers buy their own beer)
So when you look at things this way, are we surprised that Amos got the book thrown at him and Daryl got a slap on the wrist?
I’m no lawyer but I think something is very wrong with this outlook on life. We’re supposed to be better than this and I’m offended that Daryl thinks he and I are both Singaporeans.
We’re a nation that supposedly prides itself on equality before the law. We’re supposed to be the society that rewards people for working hard and for having fire in your belly. We beat our chest about how we’re the small nation that defied the odds and earned the respect of the world. We talk about how much we punch above our weight.
Yet, when these glaring comparisons happen, I got to ask myself, are we really the nation that claims to be what it is? I’m rather inclined to think that we’re a nation that only knows how to fight against people who can’t fight back.