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Friday, October 28, 2005

Singapore judes considers case of racist blogger

This is interesting. How many blogs could be shut down if this kind of law enforcement was undertaken in the United States, the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe? A lot. Especially on the right (not a bad thing considering some of the sites).

Private school student Gan Huai Shi yesterday became the third person this year to be convicted for making racist remarks on the Internet, but he may yet avoid a jail term on account of his age and clean record.

The 17-year-old San Yu Adventist School student faced seven charges of sedition, four more than animal shelter assistant Benjamin Koh, who was jailed for one month on Oct 7.

Gan pleaded guilty to two counts of sedition for comments he made on his blog, or Internet journal, which he titled The Second Holocaust. Another five charges were taken into consideration.

But instead of handing down a jail term, District Judge Bala Reddy called for a pre-sentencing report to see if Gan could be placed on probation.

Gan caused a furore when between April and July this year he posted a series of offensive comments about Malays - even admitting in one April 4 entry that he was 'extremely racist'.

Over the next three months, he made more inflammatory remarks mocking the Malay community and ridiculing their religion, which were deemed by the court to promote 'ill will and hostility' between races, an offence under the Sedition Act.

Between Aug 5 and 10 this year, three students and an engineer reported Gan's remarks to the police.

In court yesterday, Gan kept his head bowed and his hands behind his back, fidgeting nervously in the dock as Deputy Public Prosecutor Jaswant Singh repeated what he had written in his blog.

His parents looked on impassively from the public gallery.

But after Gan had been convicted, his lawyer Edmond Pereira delivered an impassioned speech in his defence, urging the court to consider his youth and clean record and spare him a prison sentence.

Mr Pereira explained that Gan's deep-seated ill feeling towards the Malay community stemmed from the traumatic death of his baby brother 10 years ago, which Gan blamed on a Malay couple.

The couple had refused to give up a taxi they had hailed when his mother was trying to rush the infant to hospital.

Gan and his parents were visibly relieved when the judge agreed with Mr. Pereira's request to consider the possibility of putting the teenager on probation. The teen, who is sitting for his O-level examinations, will return to court on Nov 23, a day after the exams end.

It is then that a decision on his sentence will be announced.

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