SINGAPORE – One of the editors of the now-defunct sociopolitical blog The Real Singapore (TRS), Ai Takagi, has indicated in court on Monday (Mar 7) that she would plead guilty to charges of sedition, local media reported.
The 23-year-old Australian and her 27-year-old Singaporean husband Yang Kaiheng, each face seven charges of sedition for publishing articles which allegedly promoted feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of the population of Singapore.
Takagi’s case will be mentioned in court on Tuesday (Mar 8) at 2.30pm.
Yang is still denying the charges, Channel NewsAsia reported, and will proceed with the trial, which is expected to last 14 days.
Last May, the Media Development Authority (MDA) ordered the editors of TRS to take their website offline, adding that “the foreign editors were responsible for several articles that sought to incite anti-foreigner sentiments in Singapore”.
The TRS former editors are accused of intentionally fabricating articles to make them more inflammatory and falsely attributing them to innocent parties. One such article published falsely reported that a Filipino family had caused an incident between the police and participants of the Thaipusam procession.
The MDA said that this was their “editorial strategy” to increase traffic to the blog in an attempt to boost advertising revenue, and in so doing, they had sought profit “at the expense of Singapore’s public interest and national harmony”.
The duo also face an eighth charge for failing to produce financial statements relating to the blog’s advertising revenue to the police.
While it is not known exactly how much they had earned from advertising revenue, Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan said they earned amounts ranging from AU$20,000 (S$20,420) to more than AU$50,000 per month based on their bank statements.
The prosecution will call on six witnesses who will make statements relating to TRS’ articles on Thaipusam, reported The Straits Times.
If convicted, they could face up to three years in jail and a fine of $5,000.