Ai Takagi, an Australian, who was convicted for publishing doctored and “patently false” material on the website The Real Singapore had a miscarriage after her conviction. The editor of a now-defunct online publication was pregnant before she was sentenced to 10 months’ jail on Mar 23.
Takagi told the Court before her conviction that she didn’t regret running the website, which published crowd-sourced articles without a high degree of editorial control. “Regret would be the wrong word,” she said.
“If I could have I would have liked to have a bit more editing of content to sort of avoid risks. It probably would have made everything easier but in terms of setting up a website where people can air their grievances I don’t think that there’s anything really wrong with that still,” she added.
Takagi also delivered a sincere public apology in court saying she was “not fully aware of the level of sensitivity needed” in her publication and that she will be “more careful with (her) conduct” in the future.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) G Kannan described Takagi as being “devoid of genuine remorse” for concocting “scandalous, provocative and racy material” in a bid to increase TRS’ following and garner “enormous” advertising revenue. DPP Kannan further urged the court to “safeguard one of the most important and envied characteristics of Singapore” – racial and religious harmony.
Takagi pleaded guilty to four counts of sedition on Mar 8. The Court heard that the editors from TRS had pocketed A$474,594.56 (S$492,500) from advertising revenue for the period December 2013 to April 2015.
TRS (which published mainly crowd-sourced articles) was shut down in May last year after the website was accused of publishing four articles likely to “promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different groups of people in Singapore”. One of the four articles wrongly identified a Filipino family as the cause of an incident during Thaipusam.
Mr Tan Kin Lian who announced Takagi’s miscarriage described it as “deplorable”. He is unsure if Takagi had a miscarriage while serving her prison term or before starting it, but he pointed out that “the prison authority has the responsibility to provide proper care to a pregnant mother in jail”.
Mr Tan further recounted that Takagi was not bitter about her misfortune and that she looked rather cheerful. Takagi told Mr Tan, “it’s okay. I am still young, and have plenty of time to get another baby.”
Speaking to the Australian press soon after her conviction, Takagi said that the charges were “a bit political”, but that she had “sort of already accepted what’s going to happen.”
She said that there were other websites here that do the same thing and arguably have worse content. But that the difference between TRS and the other websites was, TRS featured a lot of anti-government complaints.
“There’s a bit of a double standard,” Takagi said.
Singapore’s sedition laws has been described as being archaic which has no place in modern democracy by several free media advocates. Singapore ranks at 150 out of 180 on Reporters Without Borders’ latest Press Freedom Index.
The country ranked 150 out of 180 on Reporters Without Borders’ latest Press Freedom Index.
Takagi’s counsel in pleading for leniency from the court said that she was pregnant and that she also cared for the paralysed father of the other TRS editor (who is also her husband), Yang Kaiheng.
Update: Takagi has clarified that she did have a miscarriage after the conviction, but about a week before she served time in prison.