Amos Yee, a 16 year old teenager who is currently the talk of the country after being charged with harassment, and with deliberately wounding religious feelings for uploading a YouTube video about Singapore’s first prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew and Christianity.
TOC speaks with Mr Vincent Law, a family counselor and a Christian, who bailed Amos Yee out from police remand on 21 April and subsequently discharged himself as bailor on 30 April, Wednesday to find out what he feels about Amos and the breaking of bail terms by Amos.
Discharged as bailor because Amos declined to terms of bail condition
Contrary to the media reports that Mr Law refused to bail Amos out or the notion that Mr Law has given up on Amos, Mr Law had extended an offer to Amos on Wednesday last week to bail him out again.
However, Amos declined to take up the offer by Mr Law.
According to Mr Law, Amos declined because he refused to abide by the bail conditions as he does not want to be gagged by anyone.
With no way of changing Amos’ mind on the matter, Mr Law had to discharge himself as the bailor.
Just another young boy
As a family counselor, Mr Law feels that lending a listening ear is more effective than chatting with troubled youths.
Mr Law says that everyone seems to forget that Amos Yee is still a 16 year old teenager who is still unable to fit into this rigid society. In his conversations with Amos, Mr Law finds that Amos still lacks empathy, is child-like and still unable to take care of others.
When Mr Law was at the recent play, “Public Enemy” by W!ldRice with Amos and his mother, it struck him that Amos is just a boy who has yet grown up despite his outwardly maturity. Apart from requesting to be seated beside his mother, Amos also has his water stored at his mother’s bag, asking from the mother when he needs the water.
Referencing to Amos’ desire for the opposite sex as said in the video he produced, Mr Law said, apart from having the guts to say it out as compared to teens of the same age, he does not see any difference between Amos and other teenagers.
In the video, “My Lost Love“, Amos shares with viewers, his affection towards a girl in school and what he feels about it. He confess how he has perfect eyesight and wears the glasses which are similar to the ones worn by his crush.
Mr Law also added that the frustration of the constant rejection by Amos’ crush is likely to have gotten to him and may be a factor in the whole episode as he is just a teenager and at crossroads in life.
Producing videos and writing the blog posts is an outlet for a teenager like Amos, a way to release his pent up frustation. “There is nothing wrong with it.” said Mr Law, and said it to be a constructive way to vent the frustration when compared with other troubled teens who do so through violence, drugs or even self-inflicted injuries.
In fact, Mr Law say Amos is the most pleasant youth that he has ever worked with as Amos is very responsive to his questions and courteous towards him.
Mr Law as a family counselor counsels youth at risk sent to him through the police, such youths are normally involved in illegal assemblies, fighting or other offences. Usually, the youths would not respond to Mr Law’s questions and being not cooperative in the counselling process. They would also fail to turn up for arranged meetings as they feel that he is wasting their time.
“Amos is different”, said Mr Law as he would reason on points which he does not agree upon.
An example which Mr Law gave is on the discussion he had in regards to the profanity in Amos’ videos. Amos disagreed that he should omit the vulgarities in the videos. Mr Law feels that Amos just simply has to be himself.
No compromising of principles by Amos
While trying to get Amos to reconsider his actions, Mr Law asked if Amos would be willing to change himself for the sake of his crush. Amos rejected the idea despite his interest for the girl and said that he cannot help it if the girl cannot accept him for who he is.
After graduation, Amos for a period of time thought of teaching tution as to obtain a source of income instead of furthering studies in tertiary institutes.
Amos teaching how to speak Singlish
However, Amos gave up the thought of doing so after producing the video, “Why you should drop out of school” as it would be hypocritical of him to be giving tuitions when he told others why they should consider dropping out of school in his youtube video.
The video on Lee Kuan Yew and Christianity is not the first video that Amos produced on current affairs in his youtube channel. Apart from speaking on the Little India Riot, Amos also covered the issue of 377A on the homosexual community. Mr Law was impressed by Amos’ effort in attending meetings of homosexuals to better understand the community and to do research on the topic before producing the video.
No regrets for acting as bailor
On the evening when Mr Law bailed Amos out, he told Amos up front that he is a Christian and asked if he had any problems with that.
“No, no, its fine.”, Mr Law recalled Amos saying in response to his declaration. Amos followed up by saying, “Just like, as much as I may not agree with Lee Kuan Yew’s policies but we can still have a dip in the same swimming pool.”
Mr Law said that he did not regret acting as bailor for Amos despite what Amos did to break the conditions of the bail, as he was already mentally prepared that Amos would break them. He thinks that he is grateful to have the opportunity to interact with Amos through the bail, to allow Amos to face a Christian in person to address his generalization view that Christians are ignorant & stupid people.
Mr Law in his words to Amos when he bailed him out, “I may not approve or agree what you say, but I will defend your right to say what you want to say.”
To Mr Law, Amos is just born in the wrong country, as Singapore’s law does not affirm individual’s freedom of expression and demands individual to conform to social norms.