SINGAPORE – The former editor of The Real Singapore (TRS), Ai Takagi, has been jailed ten months on four charges of sedition on Wednesday (March 23).
According to media reports, the 23-year-old Australian pleaded guilty to four out of seven counts of sedition in total for articles published on TRS, which were alleged to incite hostility between races and classes in Singapore. These articles were published between October 2013 and February last year.
Takagi’s 27-year-old Singaporean husband Yang Kaiheng, who also ran the website with her and faces similar charges, has denied his charges and is claiming trial.
According to Channel NewsAsia, Takagi’s lawyer revealed that she was pregnant and urged the court to consider “not what she has done wrong, but what she has the potential to put right”. She also publicly apologised in court for her actions.
Last May, the Media Development Authority ordered the pair 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 driving up traffic to the website by 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.
Local media reports stated that TRS earned over A$473,000 (S$488,000) in advertising revenue from December 2013 to April 2015.
For each count of sedition, Takagi faces up to three years’ jail, a fine of $5,000, or both.