Ironically, Amos’ own posts will decide his asylum fate and not the official persecutions he claimed he suffered at the hand of his government.
In another week or so, the U.S. Immigration Court (Judge Samuel Cole) will determine Amos’ fate on his asylum claim. His basis for claiming asylum predicated on ‘credible fear’ and ‘ongoing persecution’ at home, would doubtless be parsed against some of the material evidence posted by Amos himself on his Facebook timeline — particularly the period between late Sept. 2016 when he was last sentenced and just before he took off for the U.S. a few months later on Dec. 16. By my reckoning, during that period (late Sept. to mid-Dec.), he made at least twelve critical postings on his Facebook that are ‘political’ in nature in which various undisguised terms of denunciation of his government were used to equate it with ‘dictatorship/tyranny/oppression’. Indeed then, it would be at best ironic and at worst self-contradictory, for him to bellyache about the suppression/denial of his God-given right to free expression without fear of reprisal at home. Of special note was 3 days prior to his abrupt departure for Chicago on Dec. 16 when he openly lit into his government with abandon on his Facebook for the final time at home, which I here dubbed the piece the ‘dictatorship indictment.’ Here now for an analysis of the maturity of thoughts and argument of this 18-year-old teenager’s essay on ‘dictatorship indictment’.
( N.B., the accompanying critical comments of mine are highlighted in bold and bracketed [ ] )
Amos Yee posted the following on his Facebook:
Many Singaporeans think that it’s a bit of a stretch to call Singapore a dictatorship. //
[ which is so true because calling it such constitutes a misnomer in the conventional signification of the term; see also concluding comment below at the end ]
1) Elections department controlled by prime minister’s office leading to gerrymandering and measures like the NCMP, GRC system and cooling-off day that keeps elections unfair // [ gerrymandering is a relative term; the U.S. Electoral College system that yielded Trump’s victory may be worse than gerrymandering; election system everywhere was initially designed in favor of the status quo ]
2) All non-violent public protests are illegal // [ incorrect; demonstrations are permitted in the designated Speakers’ Corner upon prior approval application to the Park Board; even in the U.S., one could get arrested for assembling and protesting in restricted venues ]
3) Government controls the entire mainstream media and makes it illegal for people to distribute their own newspapers until they get a permit from the government // [ true, but public access to the Internet that has become the mainstay of untold independent newsfeeds is not filtered except for sites related to hardcore pornography ]
4) Trade Unions (groups of people that negotiate better wages and working conditions) are controlled by the government // [ regulated is a more apt description ]
5) Strikes (Mass amount of workers refusing to go to work to act as a protest against unfair wages) are illegal // [ correct; workers’ right to strike in effect has been abrogated in favor of the Industrial Arbitration Court which mediates labor disputes ]
6) PAP controls most of the syllabus and curriculum in both state and private schools // [ semi-correct; there are independent secondary schools that set their own curricula; the Education Ministry not the PAP runs the primary and secondary education system ]
7) PAP has 93% of the seats in parliament and has won every general election for the past 50 years // [ one of the reasons for that was reflected in this 2010 local survey: https://lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/ips/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/07/Media-Survey-Summary_230511.pdf … in which over 70% of the electorate felt comfortable with a strong central government at the helm and about an equal percentage polled would accord precedence of economic progress over freedom of speech ]
8) Laws preferential to pro-government individuals (like opposition individuals Roy Ngerng and Teo Soh Lung getting arrested for violating cooling off day but not PAP members Tin Pei Ling and Vivian Balakrishnan. Or Amos Yee (Me) getting arrested for ‘intending to wound religious feelings’ but not youth PAP member Jason Neo who committed the same offence // [ this is a favorite canard of Amos about Jason Neo getting off scot-free which evidently wasn’t the case; Jason paid a heavy price for his mistake in 2011 as he was cashiered from his pro-government youth organization (YPAP) with his subsequent public apology to boot for his insensitive gaffe; as regards other abysmal official political injustices perpetrated, actual or perceived, what nation of the world could be totally innocent of any questionable political practices in its past which Amos duly highlighted in his next point ]
9) Government has arrested individuals who threatened the Government’s power (like imprisoning over 30 members of the barisan sosialis (popular opposition group) for up to 17 years by falsely accusing them of being ‘Violent Communists’ under operation coldstore in 1963, and imprisoning 22 opposition supporters for months by falsely accusing them of being ‘violent Marxists’ under operation spectrum in 1987 // [ history in the long haul will look back even less favorably on such past mistakes of the ruling party, in particular, the unduly long internment of political prisoners without trial; but I hasten to add, not a single political detainee’s death through mistreatment had been documented throughout those unfortunate dark days; nevertheless, no justification whatsoever for previous long-term locking up of political detainees ]
Singapore is a dictatorship. Singapore is a dictatorship. Singapore is a dictatorship // [ labeling it such will be a hyperbolic misstatement — a non sequitur — as the above 9-point illustration per se does not come close to meeting the criteria for a dictatorship regime; not a dictatorship but that of a democratic-authoritarian polity; LKY (his government) was neither a despot nor an autocrat on the pattern of Mao or Kim Il-sung by a long shot. Conclusion: the final mark earned is a prosaic passing grade, good enough for a school term paper but will not cut it for asylum grade ]