SINGAPORE: Yang Kaiheng took the stand on Wednesday (Apr 6) to defend himself against sedition charges relating to seven articles published on The Real Singapore, a now defunct sociopolitical blog he allegedly ran with his wife, Ai Takagi.
Yang admitted to the court that he was involved in the conception of the website, revealing that TRS spawned from a Facebook page titled "Petition to remove Tin Pei Ling as MP" set up five years ago. It called for Ms Tin to be stripped of her position as MP for Marine Parade GRC following the 2011 General Election.
Yang said the page “grew popular” and garnered a large following, and the couple realised it could be a viable business venture. “(Because of the) lack of media freedom in Singapore, we thought a website without any censorship and more freedom of speech would be a good business venture for us,” Yang told the court.
The 27-year-old is denying "continued and sustained” involvement in running the website but conceded that he had a hand in designing it from about mid-2012 for about one to two months.
He said after that, he was "busy with school work" as he was then in the third year of university and had "a lot of assignments every week". Yang added that Takagi, then his girlfriend, had taken on the running of the website, including getting a team of editors together and liaising with advertisers. Takagi was last month, sentenced to 10 months' jail for sedition.
Yang will take the stand again on Thursday morning.