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The recent events surrounding Amos Yee’s persecution has compelled me to speak up further on the issue.
A few days ago, Amos’s lawyer, Alfred Dodwell, had sent a letter to the judge to highlight the unfair treatment that Amos is facing inside prison, while currently in remand.
Inside his letter, Dodwell said that Amos was “strapped to a bed in a medical facility for approximately one and a half days”. Dodwell said that this was communicated by Amos to him when he met with Amos on 10 June 2015 in prison. It has been several days since Dodwell had shared publicly on this issue but the prison authorities still have not clarified on this.
Why have they been silent on this?
Dodwell explained that Amos had “informed the prison psychiatrists that he was having suicidal thoughts” and was “feeling very depressed”, “due to the long period of incarceration looming ahead of him”.
But the prison had seemed to deem it fit to strap him to a bed instead.
“He was restrained with one of his hands and one of his legs strapped to the bed,” Dodwell reported. “He found it extremely difficult to urinate and defecate. He was expected to urinate into a jar at the side of the bed, which would be left there after he does so notwithstanding the pungent odors which would emanate.”
I have no reason to doubt what was written in the letter.
What I find appalling is that shortly after Dodwell had sent the letter to the judge and posted it on his firm’s website, the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), or the government’s lawyer, then told Dodwell to take down the letter.
The Online Citizen had also posted Dodwell’s letter up and also written an article about it. But AGC also asked The Online Citizen to take down the letter. The Online Citizen took down the letter but the AGC still insisted that The Online Citizen also remove the whole article about the letter.
What I don’t understand is this – the AGC is supposed to be the government’s lawyer, which means that it is supposed to protect Singapore, and Singaporeans, right?
Why is it that the AGC did not address the concerns raised by Dodwell in the letter – on Amos’s mistreatment?
On the contrary, why does the AGC want to stop Dodwell and The Online Citizen from reporting about what is going on to Amos inside prison? Why does the AGC want to suppress the information?
Should not the appropriate action taken by the AGC be to find out what is going on to Amos inside prison, to ensure that he is receiving appropriate treatment?
I am shocked by AGC’s actions. Why is its immediate reaction to bully Amos’s lawyers and an online new site, instead of to address the ill-treatment that Dodwell highlighted?
I am perplexed by this. Is the AGC then carrying out justice fairly? Can we trust the government to act fairly, in the interest of Singaporeans?
Amos is currently being held in remand to assess his suitability for reformative training. At the last hearing, the AGC had said that it would expedite the assessment so that Amos would not be required to stay inside there for too long.
But it has since been more than two weeks. Not only does there not look like there is any expedition on the AGC’s part, instead, the AGC has acted expeditiously to stop Dodwell and The Online Citizen from highlighting publicly what is happening to Amos.
Has the AGC gone back on its words, or is the AGC just sitting on its hands?
AGC had fought for Amos to be sent to reformative training. AGC claimed that it wants Amos to be “rehabilitated”. It claimed that it wanted to help Amos.
But as Dodwell had pointed out in his letter, the Reformative Training Centre (RTC) is hardly the best place for children. Dodwell highlighted “rumors” of “people being raped and beaten up in fights”. He also pointed out how RTC is “clearly the harshest punishment possible under the guise of “rehabilitation”.
“RTC is clearly unsuitable for (Amos) as it is meant for hard core offenders requiring a prolonged period of incarceration and regimentation,” Dodwell also wrote.
It is appalling that AGC made two claims that it would expedite the process to assess Amos for RTC and that it wants to “rehabilitate” Amos, in the interest of Amos, but where it was reported that Amos was strapped down, the AGC had shown no signs of acting in the interest of Amos. Neither has it shown any signs of expediting the process.
Instead, Dodwell had to write to the judge to ask if the next hearing could be brought forward.
Look, whatever Amos does in his personal capacity is in his personal capacity. But in the first place, to arrest, charge and jail Amos for simply making a video to criticise Lee Kuan Yew is clearly disproportionate.
By now, Amos has already spent time in prison for more than 30 days. This is more than enough for a “crime” many do not even consider to be one.
What I am concerned about is this – what Amos is going through now can happen to any of our children. If Amos can face such harsh punishment for a “crime” such as this, how many of us and our children in Singapore will be put on tenterhooks, not knowing when the government might also come down on our children?
Worse still, for a “crime” such as this, is it necessary or even fair for our children to have to serve time in prison for more than 30 days? This is excessive.
Even if Amos should seek help, it should not be done in such a punitive way. If we so truly believe in having a compassionate society, then we should find alternate ways to ensure that the help provided is truly in the interest of the child, and in this instance, Amos. Does Amos deserve to be put into RTC for 18 months, or for that many matter, should any child?
As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. It is the duty of our society to recognise the signs, and to provide the necessary conducive environment to help our children grow and develop to their fullest potential.
It is definitely not to punish them for a “wrongdoing” decided just by a few and to condemn a child for life.
Yes, Amos might be seen by some as being wilful but no matter what he has done, the state’s persecution and treatment of Amos is simply uncalled for and unreasonable.
Today, it is Amos. Tomorrow, it might be our children.
We cannot allow such treatment to persist and lay silent as it is being done. We have to call it out and we have to stop it from happening to Amos, and to our children.
I have created this badge to do so. Some of us might not agree with Amos’s actions. But most of us would agree that the state’s persecution against Amos is wrong, and we also know that we would not allow this to happen to our children.
Put this badge as your profile picture on your social networking profiles to call out the Singapore government’s persecution of a child and to protect our children and their future.
Free Amos Yee. Protect Our Children.