New witness: Yang told me he started TRS
Prosecution presents new evidence including video and online chat logs between Yang Kaiheng and ex-business partner.
He told a friend in October 2012 that he was earning about $4,000 to $5,000 a month from a website he started called The Real Singapore (TRS).
When the friend, Mr K. Sudesh Durai, said it was a decent income, Yang Kaiheng said he wanted to earn more.
"Yah I wan (sic) earn more I wan buy car, bungalow... where got enuff (sic)," Yang said on Facebook's messaging system.
This message log between Yang and Mr Durai, a mechanical engineering undergraduate in his 20s, was presented in court yesterday.
Yang and his wife, Ai Takagi, were charged last April with doctoring and posting seven seditious articles on socio-political website TRS and its Facebook page. (See report above.)
Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan said the couple exploited racist and xenophobic fault lines through their seditious articles, some of which were allegedly fabricated, to drive traffic to the site and cash in on advertising revenue.
Takagi, 23, an Australian national of Japanese descent believed to be 10 weeks pregnant, was jailed for 10 months on March 23 after pleading guilty to four counts of sedition.
Yang, 27, a Singaporean, denied the charges, claiming his involvement was "fleeting" - just a month in 2012. He also told the police his involvement in TRS was only in the advertising aspects.
Yesterday, DPP Kannan said Mr Durai had been called to give evidence after the prosecution reviewed evidence over the weekend.
Mr Durai said in his statement that he met Yang between 2006 and 2007 in Yishun Junior College and they were floorball teammates.
They drifted apart after graduation, but reconnected in January 2012 when Yang contacted him on Facebook.
They used Facebook and WhatsApp often to discuss ways to make money from online businesses.
In some of these message logs tendered in court yesterday, Yang told Mr Durai in March 2013 he was stressed about developing a mobile app for TRS.
He told Mr Durai he had trouble hiring a "cheap and good" company that could design an app similar to that of The Straits Times.
Mr Durai testified that Yang asked him for ideas for related merchandise they could sell on the TRS website.
Yang had earlier told Mr Durai he tried selling T-shirts with customised slogans, such as "I want to be a millionaire so that I can buy my HDB", on TRS' Facebook page.
Only 5,000 shirts were sold at $2 profit a piece, despite the offer being viewed by 500,000 Singaporeans, Yang told Mr Durai.
Testifying that Yang had referred to TRS as "my website", he said Yang told him: "If you can think of something simple that 500,000 people will buy and go viral, then we can earn our first pot of gold from my website."
In January 2013, they and Takagi teamed up for a competition for start-ups using Mr Durai's idea for a website called Acreet, which would give prizes to users who generated the most number of votes from fellow users within a fixed period.
In Yang's competition registration entry form, he wrote for his biodata: "I have, also together with Ai Takagi, started and continue to run an online news media site (TRS)... from which advertising revenue is gained."
Yang said he was responsible for marketing and was focused on growing the market of TRS.
He also submitted a video recording, which was played in court, in which he introduced himself as someone who wanted to start his own business and be his own boss.
"The first venture was an online shop selling electronic gadgets to group-buying sites, and my second was an online news site (sic) which is the most successful so far. It is now the top 100 site, traffic-wise, in Singapore," he said in the video.
Yang and Mr Durai fell out in April 2013 after Yang told his friend via WhatsApp that he was pulling out of the team as he was no longer keen on Mr Durai's business idea.
He also said Mr Durai would not listen to his ideas.
Mr Durai said he wished Yang well and asked for the Acreet domain, which was paid for by Yang, to be transferred to him.
Yang replied: "U r not receptive of other people idea y must transfer to you. Go register your own domain then."
When Mr Durai said he was the one who came up with the name, Yang said: "No thanks bye bye go sue me then" and used a Hokkien vulgarity.
During cross-examination, defence lawyer Choo Zheng Xi asked Mr Durai whether he had advised his teammates, including Yang, on how to write their biodata in the entry form.
Mr Durai said he could not recall.
Just before the close of yesterday's hearing, the prosecution objected to Yang using his mobile phone in the dock during court proceedings, which he was not supposed to.
Yang told the court it was because his wife was "bleeding" and seeing a gynaecologist.
The trial was adjourned to this afternoon. If convicted, Yang can be fined up to $5,000 and jailed for three years on each sedition charge.
...my second (venture )was an online news site (sic) which is the most successful so far. It is now the top 100 site, traffic-wise, in Singapore.
- Yang Kaiheng, in a video recording in which he introduced himself as someone who wanted to start his own business and be his own boss
Last month, Yang Kaiheng, 27, claimed trial to seven counts of sedition. An eighth charge of failing to produce documents to the police for investigations has been stood down.
The sedition charges are:
- An article falsely asserting that a Filipino family caused an incident between the police and participants at last year's Thaipusam procession.
- A Facebook post with similar content.
- An article alleging that a Filipino employee had bribed a colleague to delete traces of his misdeeds to ensure that only his countrymen were hired by the company.
- An article that "casts PRC women as home-wreckers whose main motive was 'trying to hook' Singaporean men" .
- An article that had an editor's note warning companies about hiring foreigners over Singaporeans.
- An article that claimed Filipino managers working here would give preferential treatment to subordinates of the same nationality at the expense of Singaporeans.
- Copied an article from the website Stomp, doctored it to say that a woman was a Chinese national who allegedly had an accent, and posted it on TRS.