TRS co-founder slams TODAY for “outright false and defamatory” allegations against him and his wife


The co-founder of the now-defunct The Real Singapore website, Yang Kaiheng, has slammed Mediacorp’s online news publication TODAY online for publishing “outright false and defamatory” allegations against him and his wife.

Both Yang and his then-pregnant wife, Ai Takagi, were sentenced to jail in 2016 after the court found them guilty of publishing supposedly seditious articles on their website.

The husband and wife are now out of prison but Yang indicates that they are unable to move on from the episode due to news reports like the TODAY article, that he believes is “trying to make me and my wife a devil by saying we made $500,000 by deliberately producing fake news”.

The TODAY article, a piece on “the dark forces behind fake news”, was published over the weekend and had this to say about Yang and his wife:

Closer to home, the now-defunct website The Real Singapore (TRS) — whose owners were jailed for publishing sham socio-political reports about Singapore — was reported to have made more than S$500,000 in advertising revenue in the span of 1.5 years.
Prosecutors had chided its founding couple Yang Kaiheng, 29, and Ai Takagi, 25, for exploiting racist and xenophobic fault lines through blatantly fabricated articles.
But Mr Yang, who was jailed eight months for sedition, maintains that TRS was set up as a “crowd-sourced platform where the public could share their views”.
“That was the vision and purpose of the website and this was always made clear to the readers too. The very nature of crowd-sourced content platforms is that they are fluid and adapt to their audiences’ views, preferences and unavoidably their biases and emotions too,” Mr Yang told TODAY.
While unverified or misreported content can get shared on such platforms, it is important for readers to “make their own decisions about what is posted on such websites,” he said.
TRS did not have sufficient resources to review and verify each post, he said, adding that it would be onerous for all creators of online content to adhere to strict verification standards.

Taking to Facebook, Yang asserted that the claim that he and his wife made half a million dollars “deliberately producing fake news is just outright false and defamatory.”

He further revealed that there were over 30,000 articles published on TRS during its 3 years of operations and that the Attorney-General’s Chambers apparently only flagged 7 articles as seditious.

Yang claims that these 7 articles were enough for the authorities to label “the entire website as fake news.” He added: “This is just a convenient excuse to shut us down.”

In actual fact, Yang claims, he only made $116 in revenue by publishing the articles that were flagged and not half a million dollars, as painted by the media.

Yang added that instead of the entire website being branded as a fake news site, “a more accurate description of the website should be 0.0002% fake news” since only 7 articles out of over 30,000 were found to be inaccurate.

Yang expressed that he is “terribly disappointed” presumably with the way he and his wife are portrayed in the media and by the alleged misinformation about them that is perpetuated to readers. He added: “I thought i was going to let go and move on about this nightmare after serving my jail sentence for Sedition. So much talk about giving ex-cons a second chance.”

I don't even read local news anymore for the past 2 years but this article trying to make me and my wife a devil by…

Posted by Yang Kaiheng on Monday, 29 January 2018


    • 何维珊 so your ‘objective truth’ = PAP always wrong?


      This pap is the worst PAP in Singapore’s history, and I don’t read ST, but that doesn’t mean rubbish sites like TRS is right.

      There are plenty of good non-pap media – mothership, the online citizen, the independent.

      Then there’s trash like TRS and ASS.

      TRS only made use of people like you. They exaggerate and put out fake news, make you angry, then you share and like, and they make money.

      Now they used the money to open a lousy ramen store, but they’re still making more money. What about people like you?

      What have you gotten out of it?

      You’re still angry, and the PAP is still in power.

      It’s ok to be anti-PAP. Just don’t go following rubbish like TRS.

    • Keppel’s corruption case isn’t so simple.

      Countries like brazil, and heck, even malaysia and indonesia are known to be rampant with corruption.

      Remember that in Malaysia, if you drive a Singaporean car, or are a part of a small Singaporean tour entourage, the police might as for kopi lui?

      So, some Singaporeans relent and give these cops the cash coz they don’t want the trouble. Are they corrupt?

      lol, you think doing business in ID, MY and China, they don’t ask for bribes indirectly?

    • Aaron Loy yes I agree in some countries corruptions and briberies are rampant or normal. I have no issue if you are private companies but not when you are a GLC and of public character!

      Especially when PAP espouses “integrity” all the time.

      Why suddenly you set the bar so low for PAP?

      So you mean pastors that serve in red light district can engage in vice too since it’s rampant and normal?

      So what exactly set PAP and GLC apart? Some companies commit murder or espionage to serve to their end of business in some countries so you think it’s “OK” if PAP engages in such activities too?

      You look smart but please don’t act smart.

    • Missing the point.

      Like I said. Same example – for the Singaporeans on Malaysian roads who end up paying kopi lui to avoid problems, are they corrupt?

      There’s a difference between rampant corruption, i.e. Keppel accepting blatantly bribes and actively tying to bribe to steal business. Or, using the same example, there’s a different between paying kopi lui to avoid problems and actively trying to bribe the Malaysian police to get them to do what they want.

      Don’t be over simplistic and naive.

    • Aaron Loy You don’t want to give them a chance, well that’s your choice. As far as I’m concerned, 7 articles out of 30,000, and a website with minimal editing, 99.97% accuracy is pretty good! Made lots of money? This was one of the few websites that provided alternative views then, so traffic is naturally high attracting many advertisers. Finally, Singaporeans are supposed to be highly educated, but they cannot differentiate fake from real news? Just google, you know, website, internet? Also, think! It’s a good habit.

    • LOL. Info wars and fox news are also ‘alternative’ news. As for Singaporeans being educated… nah, we’re trained to be good followers. Many still can’t think, that’s why so many can treat rubbish like TRS as alternative view.

      Popularism is not a good indicator of quality, and if you need to use popularity as a indicator of quality, then it just means you have no idea what you’re reading since you need others to test credibility for you.

      Google? Ah yes. Because everything online can be believed. Clearly, not everyone can do research.

  1. Source of news will determine which direction of the reporting will be slanted to.We see it very common everyday and all the time.Some never even made made to the printer and if it does half truth and incomplete disclosure if the even is in collusion with their vested interest.

  2. Interesting ! Who is the dark forces behind Today ! Someone somewhere has prompted the journalist to write the article. Why only TRS ? Why Today don’t go after States Times Review yesterday ? Or other ‘threatening’ websites ? Come on ! Let the couple get on with Life ! Don’t victimise them !

  3. 2nd chances are not given by default. You have to earn it! By trying to explain and justify shows you’re unrepentant. In that case, why should anyone give you 2nd chances?
    Besides, those who are really repentant move on by doing things that do not seek recognition, they just do. They let their actions do the talking.

  4. Mr. Yang, quite simply, live and learn: you took a chance in trying to profit from your little cottage industry of fake news in a tightly regulated milieu and got caught for going beyond the pale; try next your creativity in the non-fiction dept. for a change …you might do well by it!