Singaporean blogger arrested, charged with racism

Sumner Lemon
IDG News Service

A 24-year-old Chinese man was arrested in Singapore on May 20 and charged with posting racist comments on his blog, according to the Singapore Police Force.

The man, who was not named, was arrested after police received two complaints about allegedly racist comments posted on his blog, SPF said in a brief statement. The blog was not identified.

“Police take a serious view of such irresponsible blog postings in a multi-racial society like Singapore and will expend all efforts in tracking the perpetrators,” the statement said.

Under Singaporean law, comments made with the “deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings of any person” can result in a jail term of up to three years and a fine.

Singapore is predominantly Chinese, but also has large Malay and Indian communities. For historical reasons, the government is generally quick to clamp down on public comments that might create tension between the country’s different ethnic groups.

In 1964, tensions between the Chinese and Malay communities in Singapore twice erupted into riots that killed 36 and left hundreds wounded. Riots again broke out between the two communities in 1969, sparked by violence between Malays and Chinese in Malaysia.

In the case of the blogger arrested Tuesday, his comments were directed at a fellow passenger on Singapore’s train system, local media reported.

“There he sat, unaffected by his surroundings, smelling like he didn’t showered (sic) in years and wore some really scary dirty clothes,” the blogger allegedly wrote, according to The New Paper. The blogger allegedly proceeded to make “offensive” comments about the man’s race, the report said, without providing details.

Details of the man described in the blog, including his race, were not disclosed.

The man arrested for making the comments apologized, the New Paper said, saying he was “shocked by the furore over his blog entry, which he said was only intended for his close friends.”

The man plans to make an online apology, the report said.

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