Ambassador-at-Large, Bilahari Kausikan, has mocked the claim by Amos Yee’s Facebook page that the Singapore Government is behind the teenager’s continued detention in a US jail.
“[The] SG government has such great influence with the US government???” the ambassador posted on his Facebook page on Sunday. “I did not know we were so powerful!”
Referring to the teenager’s prolonged incarceration, Yee’s Facebook post, which was “made by people working on Amos’s case”, said, “We can only suspect interference by the Singaporean government as there would be no other legitimate reason for Amos to be detained for so long after being granted asylum by the court.”
The Youtuber, who was jailed in Singapore in 2015 for posting a video online which mocked Christianity, had gone to the US on a tourist visa last December and has since sought and been granted political asylum by the courts there.
The US Department of Homeland Security, however, has filed an appeal against the court’s decision. The final verdict is expected to take several months. In the meantime, Yee continues to be held in jail in Chicago. He has been there for close to half a year.
The Facebook post added that the Singaporean teenager’s “psychological health is suffering.”
This apparently is partly because Yee was placed “twice” in “solitary confinement” in recent months.
In the first instance, Yee reportedly “decided to attend a religious lecture with a visiting Imam” recently, where Yee “challenged the Imam claiming that Muhammad had left many violent statements in the Quran.”
“The Imam challenged him to prove it,” the post said. “[Yee] asked the Imam for the Quran so that he could show him the verses, the Imam called security on Amos where he was immediately placed into solitary confinement for 2 weeks.”
In the second case, the Facebook post claimed that Yee was paid a visit by a reporter who, for some reason, “believed Amos to be suicidal”, and informed the prison authorities.
Yee “was then immediately placed on suicide watch for two weeks”, the post said.
“During suicide watch Amos was placed in a small cell, he wasn’t allowed any cell mates, he wasn’t allowed access to the common areas, he wasn’t allowed to shower, and had numerous other privileges limited during that time.”
The post said “Amos is currently out of suicide watch but his prolonged stay in jail is only making his situation even worse.”
“Amos is suffering under great psychological stress,” it added.
The account of Yee’s tribulations, however, seems to have cut no ice with ambassador Bilahari.
“The boy picks a quarrel with an Imam while in jail — what does he expect? Praise?” the ambassador posted. “He is deemed a suicide risk so naturally he is placed in a situation where he cannot harm himself — in jail. He isn’t gonna be sent to the IMH equivalent in the US.”
IMH refers to the Institute of Mental Health, where Yee had been ordered to visit for a psychological assessment during his detention in Singapore in 2015.
Mr Bilahari then accused “[those] who encouraged the boy to seek asylum” in the US for “making use of the boy and their family for their own anti-government agenda from the very beginning.”
“In fact the well-being of the boy and his family were probably the least of their considerations if this was ever a consideration in the first place,” he said. “I feel sorry for the family who have been cynically manipulated.”
Mr Bilahari, however, did not provide any evidence of his allegations.