A Close-up Study Of The Asylum Application Of Amos Yee & Alvin Tan — You Be The Judge Who’s More Deserving
Comparing and contrasting the asylum journey of Amos Yee and Alvin Tan leads one to an inescapable conclusion, the details of which are explicated in this article.
In response to a blog article of mine posted on Mothership.sg in late March [ https://lester978.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/ten-reasons-why-amos-yees-asylum-victory-will-be-short-lived/ ], Mr. Marcus Yan remarked as follows: “… Alvin Tan managed to get Asylum under a worse set of circumstances. So I hardly feel that Amos Yee is important enough for DHS to put in more than a token effort to block his asylum.” End quote. My contemplated reply to Mr. Yan’s remark led to the following comparative coup d’œil.
The asylum backstories of Amos Yee and Alvin Tan are a fascinating study in contrast. While they share a few common facets in their personal stories that brought them here to America, the varying individual circumstances and background details relating to their asylum quests cannot be more dissimilar. Their side-by-side case comparison depicts night-and-day differences, much like comparing apples and oranges or like contrasting Singapore with Malaysia. Crucially, whether their asylum bids make or break eventually, will come down to the prevailing weight of respective evidence. Here now for the comparative details up-close…
Protagonists in brief: for those who need a primer on Alvin Tan, he’s a 28-year-old Malaysian from a well-off Kuala Lumpur family, 10 years senior to Amos. They both excelled academically, Alvin in particular. He attained a full ASEAN Scholarship to read Law at NUS (Nat. Univ. of Singapore) … had barely another year left in the completion of his professional degree when he landed himself in deep shit. In 2012, for reason only he himself understood (or perhaps not), Alvin decided to go exhibitionist au naturel and let it all hang out in the conservative milieu within which he operates. He published online raw, graphic video cum postings of his bedroom exploits with his sex partner Vivian Lee. For his bravado, he was stripped of his scholarship but wasn’t expelled; he nevertheless chose to drop out of NUS on his own volition. In mid 2013, together with his sex partner Vivian in Malaysia, they posted on their joint FB page a puckish screencap of ‘pork-greeting’ at the close of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, intended as a ribbing of fellow Muslims over their celebration of the end to fasting … pork is of course a taboo (haram) staple in the Islamic faith. Sadly, the ‘pork-greeting’ episode sealed his fate and marked the start of his tortuous odyssey to becoming a fugitive and asylum-seeker in America. As for Amos, if an intro is needed to this Singapore teenage hellion, the article at this link is recommended: https://lester978.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/is-amos-yee-a-milo-yiannopoulos-wannabe-the-parallels-are-striking/ For summary: this somewhat precocious one-time child actor quit school altogether at 16 to seek fame/notoriety as a full-time vlogger. It soon became evident his insufferable ego and arrogance proved too big for his britches redounding to his eventual downfall. Enthralled by the intoxicating desire to emulate big-time trolls and publicity parasites like Milo, further compounded by being under the foxy spell of his U.S. free-speech-absolutist mentor Melissa Chen, Amos quickly spun out of control and self-destruct … first by spitting at LKY’s (Singapore’s founder) funeral — before his body was even cremated — next by perpetrating simulated paraphilic rape of the Quran … well, the rest is history.
Similarities shared by protagonists: as millennials, they both have a chip on the shoulder against instated authority. They can be put down as behavioral wild cards, social nonconformist in conservative Eastern societies. Currently, both cases have prima facie passed the initial litmus test for U.S. asylum. Alvin’s is further along than Amos’ since the former started his 2 1/2 years earlier, but their final outcome is by no means resolved. Indeed, they have newfound reason to be worried under a hostile Trump Admin whose calling card is one of anti-immigration, and whose lieutenants are spoiling to militate against the influx of immigrants.
Differences inherent in their asylum bids:
1. Amos was a recidivist (repeat offender) with related convictions, 2 in 2015 and 8 in 2016 whereas Alvin had no priors — he was not charged for his personal sex-blogging in 2012 but only for his 2013 ‘pork-greeting’ posting of misplaced humor.
2. Alvin, of his own accord, erased the online ‘pork-greeting’ posting and issued a personal public apology along with his sex partner, all within a day of the 2013 incident. Amos, on the other hand, not only balked at complying with court orders to remove those objectionable postings of his, he was all too pleased to play the authority and the media along, preening himself on taking them for a ride. He was brazenly unrepentant throughout; did however offer a veiled apology of sorts albeit some 6 months after the fact while he was being incarcerated in America — more on that later in point 6.
3. Despite the timely post deletion and the issuance of personal apology for the 2013 incident, Alvin’s sex mate Vivian Lee was convicted and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment in 2016 … Alvin of course had fled to America by then to avoid a similar or possibly worse fate for he was held to be the principal instigator behind the impish posting. Amos, however, received 4 and 6 weeks respectively for his 2015 and 2016 convictions but served only half the jail time for the latter before being vouchsafed home incarceration for the remainder of its sentence.
4. Amos was not deprived of his freedom to travel after he was charged in 2015 as opposed to what happened to Alvin who was ordered to surrender his passport immediately after being charged in 2013. Hence, Alvin was constrained to scheme to go on the lam in order to avert what he sensed was the harshness of punishment awaiting him over a relatively mindless faux pas for which he had already swiftly and publicly apologized.
5. Throughout the last 2 years, in between his 2 convictions, Amos did never let up on his fusillade of charges against the faults of his government. While at home, he continued fulminating against his so-called ‘dictatorship’ country till the very day he took off for America on Dec. 15/16, 2016; his last censorious FB posting from home was dated Dec. 13, 3 days prior to his departure for America. Indeed, he was never muzzled nor charged by the authority for his denunciations of his government. He was nevertheless punished for his outrages against that which is holy and sacred — though I have opined, as a matter of record, that the judge erred in the 2015 trial in ordering his gratuitously overlong confinement over a maiden offense, considering his being a first-time, non-violent juvenile scofflaw. [ https://lester978.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/an-open-letter-to-judge-jasvender-kaur-following-her-ruling-on-amos-yee/ ] Now, contrast Alvin’s supposed aggravation against the state with Amos’, the difference cannot be more stark — before Alvin fled, while at home he never once publicly badmouthed his government.
6. It took Amos more than 6 months to finally acknowledge his mischief and issued an apology of sorts. On Dec. 30, 2016, in a press interview behind bars in America, Amos was quoted as saying: ‘I told you, it is hate speech, it is overly rude, it isn’t good activism. I completely regret making those videos.’ … whereas Alvin promptly offered his public apology the following day of his publishing his insensitive ‘pork-greeting’ posting.
7. Amos was not given a Credible Fear Screening (by USCIS officers) but went straight to the IJ (Immigration Judge) for asylum adjudication which earned him a favorable initial ruling from Judge Cole. In contrast, Alvin passed the Credible Fear Screening conducted during the 4 months of his initial detention, and (presumably) has had his following IJ adjudication settled in his favor. Passing the basic-level Credible Fear Screening renders an applicant extra credibility and enhances his odds in any subsequent appeal challenges. This is one seal of approval Amos will have to do without in his present appellate battle.
8. Unlike Singapore, whence Alvin hails, there isn’t the obligatory requirement for National Service in Malaysia. Ultimately in the appellate process, the motivation question of asylum seekers will surface. Would an adjudicator be more favorably inclined towards or be put off by an applicant if there was suspicion of avoidance of National Service concerning him? Amos is currently 18 and would otherwise be enlisted in his National Service by now.
9. In all appellate reviews, the question of prospective persecution and torture confronting an asylum-seeker will take center stage. The inevitable fate of Alvin if sent back home is writ large in the disproportionately 6-month long sentence already meted out to his sex partner Vivian in 2016 for their trivial gaffe. Amos, on the other hand, faces none such adversity.
Other incidental differences in personal characteristics:
10. Going by the respective modi operandi of Amos and Alvin in the U.S., it’s abundantly clear they are two very different individuals: one an opportunistic free-loader of pro bono services, while the other a tough survivalist who pulls himself up by his own bootstraps. Before eking out a living in bartending and porn-making, initially Alvin had to scour around to clean toilets just to make it. Amos, quite the contrary, has no such history of being able to survive on his own outside of home … all his life, he was pampered, cosseted, mollycoddled, and waited on hand and foot by dear mommy. Alvin has already published his book memoir in 2015 about a year into his exile in the States, let’s see how long it will take Amos to finish his … whose literary skill has some ways yet to full maturity.
In summation, if I was tasked to rate their asylum deservingness based on the above information, on an ascending scale of zero to 10, Alvin would merit a 7 or 8 as opposed to a 2 or 3 for Amos — I have little doubt their prospective asylum adjudicators would invariably arrive at the same conclusion … Amos’ bid clearly pales by comparison.
[ Footnote: interestingly, there are of late, quotes and references selectively culled from my blog cited by Amos’ cohorts on his May 24 FB timeline for PR purposes … this is what the page reads: ‘Our suspicions for possible government interference are just suspicions but they are not unfounded. Even Amos’s most vocal critics such as Lester978 who runs a popular anti-Amos blog agrees that (and it went on to lift the following passages from my blog of March 29): “I would be surprised if the Singapore gov. would simply let the ruling stand and not kick up a fuss about it. Let me now qualify that statement further in no uncertain terms: it would be inconceivable of the Singapore Government/Embassy not to move heaven and earth to redress the obloquy inflicted on the nation by the existing misrule — all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if need be.”’ [ https://lester978.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/ten-reasons-why-amos-yees-asylum-victory-will-be-short-lived/ ]
My advice FWIW: the least said soonest mended! Truly, Amos has done enough damage to himself already with his loose lips to last an eternity. Plying the sympathy/conspiracy card here, IMHO, is counter-productive because Amos is but one of one-half million others similarly situated deserving of equal opportunity treatment. How ironic it is then, it may all boil down to Amos’ fiercest critic to do more to bring him relief:-) ]