In a Facebook post, Minister for Law K Shanmugam denounced the actions of the man who had hit Amos Yee, just as the 16 year old was attending court yesterday for his bail review in relation to him posting a video critical of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
The unidentified assailant was filmed by media walking up to Yee and striking him on the face. As the assailant fled the scene, he could also be heard shouting, “Come and sue me!”
We also understand the police has confirmed that a police report has been filed against Yee’s assailant and investigations are under way.
Mr Shanmugam also revealed that the charge of harassment against Yee has been stood down. This does not mean the charges are dropped, but that the prosecution will proceed with two other charges first, according to a spokesperson from the AGC.
The following was Mr Shanmugam’s Facebook post:
Amos Yee was assaulted as he was going to court today. That is quite unacceptable.
Amos made some statements which are offensive to Christians. He is being charged for that and for an obscenity related issue. ( I understand that the charge in respect of his statements on Mr Lee Kuan Yew have been stood down.)
People may have strong feelings about Amos (or anyone else who is charged). But we have to leave it to the courts to deal with them. Taking the law into one’s own hands cannot be condoned.
Rule of Law means respecting the legal process. If everyone starts taking the law into his or her own hands, then we will no longer be a civilised society. I hope that the attacker will be caught quickly, and is dealt with appropriately.
However, Yee’s lawyer Mr Alfred Dodwell informed TOC that he was not alerted to the standing down of the harassment charge at any point during the court proceedings yesterday. He also said:
“I want all three charges to go ahead. The Prosecution should either drop the charge or go ahead with it. We can’t have it hanging over our client’s head. There seems to be no reason to stand down the charge as it is in relation to the same video.”
Vincent Law, the Youth Counsellor who first bailed Yee out when the bail amount stood at $20,000, has discharged himself. When asked why, he said:
I discharged myself as Amos was not willing to abide by the conditions of the bail. I would also like to add that I hope the media would just leave him alone. After all, he’s only a kid.
Furthermore, I think Amos should be assessed psychologically, which was the main reason why I bailed him in the first place. Unfortunately, the appointment at a local institute could not be pushed forward earlier. I hope the prison authorities would facilitate his assessment while he is in remand.
Yee’s lawyer, Mr Dodwell, who released a press statement to clarify why he chose to defend Amos, indicated that it was the client’s choice on whether they want to comply with the conditions of bail.
“We always advise our clients to comply with all conditions. But if a client chooses not to comply, we don’t father the client. We tell the client what to do and if the client refuses to do so, we do ask why, but we don’t probe further than that. They face the consequences of their actions.”