Singapore diplomat hits back at The Economist again

Singapore diplomat hits back at The Economist again

High Commissioner to the UK Foo Chi Hsia says Singapore's laws on contempt do not prevent fair criticisms of court judgements, contrary to suggestions made by The Economist's article, titled "An outspoken Singaporean blogger wins asylum in America", on Mar 30.

amos yee
Teen blogger Amos Yee, before being charged in court on May 26, 2016. (Photo: Justin Ong)

SINGAPORE: High Commissioner to the UK Foo Chi Hsia has responded to an article by The Economist, saying it is not true teen blogger Amos Yee was prosecuted here for political dissent and not for making vicious statements about Christians and Muslims as implied in the report.

On Mar 30, The Economist published the article, titled "An outspoken Singaporean blogger wins asylum in America", which talked about how a US immigration judge granted Yee asylum, and the reasons for doing so. The article cited the judge's reasons, including that while the blogger was legally prosecuted under Singapore law, his prosecution served a "nefarious purpose - namely, to stifle political dissent".

In a response published by the UK-based weekly on Apr 12, Ms Foo, referencing specific comments against Christians and Muslims made by Yee in 2015 and 2016, said The Economist may agree with the US judge that such bigotry is free speech, but Singapore "does not countenance hate speech" as it has "learnt from bitter experience how fragile racial and religious harmony is".

She added that contrary to the suggestion in the article, Singapore's laws on contempt do not prevent fair criticisms of court judgements.

"Singapore’s court judgments, including on Mr Yee’s case, are reasoned and published, and can stand scrutiny by anyone, including The Economist."

This is not the first time Ms Foo has responded to an article by The Economist. In March this year, she took issue with an article alleging restrictions on free speech in Singapore, saying that no country gives an absolute right to free speech.

Source: CNA/kk

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