I’m not writing this because I’m a fan of the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. In fact, despite his achievements, I’m not a fan because I think some of views and his policies are deeply misguided and just plain wrong (for example, his stop-at-two policy and his views on eugenics). Furthermore, by the time I was mature enough (yes, I am a slow developer) to think about the world that revolves around me, Mr. Lee’s (henceforth abbreviated as LKY) time had come and gone. So, to me, the PAP government’s work is largely the work of those that came after him and not his work. However, let’s not forget that his government laid the foundations for those that came after him.

And now back to the topic at hand- Amos Yee. For those that don’t know his name already, Amos Yee made a very controversial video that basically compared LKY to Jesus Christ and said that they were both dictators. Of course, Amos’s language was a lot more flowery than the one used here and he also brought up a couple of statistics to show that Singapore has a high level of inequality and low level of freedom of speech.

The uproar in certain communities and in the headlines around the world (example The Guardian or see Mothership.sg’s list for a more complete round-up) seem to imply that the Singapore government has gone to far by arresting a soon-to-be 17 year old boy for what essentially is an attention-seeking video. Some are taking it even further by interpreting it as a clampdown on dissent.

From the way I see it, the police had to do something because 20 people (of whom, one was Amos’ own mother) made a police report and it wasn’t a complex thing to consider because all the police had to decide was whether there was any grounds for the reports to be made and thereafter, was there any grounds to arrest Amos.

Furthermore, I watched Amos’ entire video and I have to say that it smacks of immaturity. Throughout the video, he basically rants, albeit in a seemingly intelligent manner, that LKY is a dictator and controls the minds of the masses. This is where he brings in the comparison to Jesus Christ and this is the part that got him into a lot of trouble. It’s one thing to label LKY a dictator and quite another to bring a religion to the fray. Add to that any lack of analysis or shred of evidence to substantiate his claims and you know it’s going to be a recipe for disaster.

So, in short, do I think Amos should have been arrested? Well, if he broke any law and he qualifies to be, then yes, he should have.

The other thing that the critics have gotten wrong is also that Amos hasn’t been sentenced. If his sentence is much harsher than that meted out to any one arrested for similar offences, then they will have grounds for grouse. However, if the judge merely sends Amos for rehabilitative or reformative activities, then what can the critics say? That in the first place Amos shouldn’t have been arrested because he did nothing wrong? Bollocks. The law is there. There will be many other more learned people there to debate whether the offence broke the law and whether the punishment fit the crime. Don’t jump the gun. Let those who know the law comment about the law.

Lastly, and this is where I think Amos and the other critics could have done the most damage, Amos should have focussed more on the current high levels of income inequality and low level of media freedom and all the other things he brought up. The problem for them, like good ‘ol Roy, is that can they make a coherent argument against the development that the LKY era PAP brought to this country?

To play (the critics’) devil’s advocate, I was on a trip to Phnom Penh when LKY passed away and one of the more interesting things that I heard (from Cambodians no less) was that not long after Singapore’s independence, one LKY made a trip to Phnom Penh to study their urban development and city planning. It was there where he got the idea to plant trees along the roads in order to minimise the pollution from cars.

Subsequently, Cambodia fell into the hands of the Khmer Rouge and it was hell for them only until the 90s. Even till today, Cambodia’s development has been set back some decades and word on the ground is that it’s very difficult to do business because of all the shady things that go on.

Was LKY the only one responsible for the development of Singapore? Of course not. But was he a key architect and executioner of that will? I’d say he was. Did he have to do some things that were not so moral? The man acknowledged as much. I’m not suggesting that without LKY, Singapore would definitely have gone to the dogs. We might have done just as well without him but what I’m saying is that his work and effort needs to be acknowledged and that we should also count ourselves fortunate that he didn’t turn out to be someone that caused the development of our city to be turned back in time or remained at a standstill.

Amos’ argument was weak and immature and in my view, he was only out to get that fleeting moment of fame. In that, he succeeded. As for the critics that support Amos, I’d say you people are stupid because supporting a lousy, flimsy stand won’t help to win the fence-sitters over. If the critics’ aim was to gain support for their cause, I think they haven’t gotten it.

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