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Singapore: Blogger jailed for posting racist remarks

Categories: East Asia, Singapore, Breaking News, Blogger Profiles

Two Singaporeans accused of posting racist remarks online [1] have been sentenced to jail today, reports ChannelNewsAsia [2] tonight.

Benjamin Koh Seng Huat, 28, was sentenced to one month's jail, and separately, Nicholas Lim Yew, 25, was sentenced to serve one day in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000. Both were charged under Sedition Act.

Earlier, Nicholas Lim was wrongly reported by the media as a blogger. It was later found out that he had actually posted a disparaging comment about Muslims in a web forum for dog-lovers [3].

However, Benjamin Koh, who works at a kennel taking care of dogs, allegedly made similar racist comments on his blog, Phoenyx Chronicles, on www.upsaid.com [4]. He pleaded guilty to the charge.

In passing sentences, Senior District Judge Richard Magnus said the two had crossed the red line by wantonly breaching the basic ground rules. He said passing a deterrent sentence was necessary so that such offending acts are tackled early and contained.

The judge said callous and reckless remarks on racial or religious subjects had the potential to cause social disorder, regardless of which medium or forum they are expressed, as every Singapore citizen and resident must respect the other races in view of Singapore's multi-racial society.

He added the right of one to propagate an opinion on the Internet is not and cannot be an unfettered right.

The third person, a 17-year-old student blogger [5], will have his case heard on October 26 . He has earlier been charged on seven counts of promoting ill-will in Singapore under Chapter Section 29 of the Seditious Sedition Act.

It is a known fact that, charged with sedition, Singaporeans face prison terms of up to three years if convicted.

Early responses to today's jail sentence can be found here [6] and here [7].