ASIA MEDIA STAFF WRITES– Amos Yee, a teen blogger who fled Singapore, has been granted asylum in the United States. Yee was released from U.S. detention after 9 months of being detained. Yee first received asylum in March, but was quickly rejected by the Department of Homeland Security. However, the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed with Judge Samuel Cole’s findings; claiming that, “The evidence presented at the hearing demonstrates Singapore’s prosecution of Yee was a pretext to silence his political opinions critical of the Singapore Government.”
Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs released a statement following news of Yee’s asylum being approved, quoting his remarks on Christians and Muslims.
“Yee had engaged in hate speech against Christians and Muslims,” the ministry stated. “The U.S. adopts a different standard, and allows such hate speech under the rubric of freedom of speech.”
“It is the prerogative of the U.S. to take in such people who engage in hate speech. There are many more such people, around the world, who deliberately engage in hate speech, and who may be prosecuted. Some of them will no doubt take note of the U.S. approach, and consider applying for asylum in the U.S.”
Despite this statement being released, Cole said testimonies from two key witnesses in addition to Yee’s testimony during the hearing had shown that while the Singaporean government’s stated reason for punishing him involved religion, “its real purpose was to stifle Yee’s political speech”– a highly protected right in the U.S.
Although many on social media congratulated Yee on his newfound freedom, Singaporeans expressed their happiness that he will not return. A Singaporean netizen commented, “I wonder how long will it take before he lands himself into trouble in the U.S. Oh well at least it’s not our problem anymore. Good riddance.”
Upon release, Yee has declared that he will continue his activism stating that, “the plan is to make more and more videos. I came here to escape the horrible anti-free speech laws in Singapore. Now I can get back to work, get back to my life.”