The Real Singapore accused: I'm a pro sh*t stirrer
Yang Kaiheng, husband of TRS' former chief editor, is believed to have made plans to set up citizen journalism website in Australia
The Singaporean accused of sedition through The Real Singapore (TRS) website had allegedly planned to set up a citizen journalism website in Australia.
This was apparently captured in Skype chat logs that the prosecution tendered yesterday for the user "able_tree", an account shared between Yang Kaiheng, 27, and his Australian wife, Ai Takagi, 23.
Investigating officer Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Roy Lim read out some of the chat logs while on the witness stand.
In March 2013, Skype user "able_tree" - allegedly Yang at the time - had communicated with user "zlkoh87", said to be Mr Damien Koh, a web developer who started TRS with Yang and Takagi but later quit.
Yang allegedly mentioned to Mr Koh his plans to start a citizen journalism website, similar to Singapore's Stomp, in Australia as it was lacking such a culture.
He allegedly told Mr Koh: "You handle website, I handle marketing. It is an ugly culture but can make money."
When Mr Koh expressed his doubts on whether it would work, Yang allegedly said: "I am a pro shit-stirrer."
Asking Mr Koh to "help me protect our passive income", Yang expressed concerns that TRS was "too reliant" on its Facebook page and he worried over what would happen if the page was banned.
In the Skype chat logs, Yang allegedly also told Mr Koh that it took just one year to "earn a lot from TRS" and that he had bought a "small" apartment in Fairfield, a suburb in Brisbane, Australia, that cost "only" A$350,000 (S$360,000).
On Monday, the court heard that the couple had taken up a 30-year mortgage loan of A$195,000 and repaid A$190,000 in less than a year.
In a chat in January 2014, Yang allegedly admitted he was a TRS writer.
Yang is on trial on seven charges under the Sedition Act for anti-foreigner posts published on TRS that aimed to "maliciously exploit racial and xenophobic faultlines".
An eighth charge of failing to produce documents to the police has been stood down.
Yang has denied the charges, claiming his involvement was "fleeting" - just a month in 2012. He told the police that his involvement in TRS was only in the advertising aspects.
Takagi, TRS' former chief editor who is nine weeks pregnant, was sentenced to 10 months' jail last week after pleading guilty to four counts of sedition.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) G. Kannan yesterday presented chat logs of two Skype accounts - "able_tree" and "therealsingapore" - shared by Yang and Takagi that took place between 2012 and 2014.
They were to show that Yang had used the accounts to communicate with business contacts about the management and running of the TRS website.
For example, in various conversations with Mr Koh, DPP Kannan said, the "able_tree" user had used Singlish phrases such as "lah", "liao" and "leh".
DSP Lim, who was testifying for the second day, said the account user had also fluently used Hokkien vulgarities - a "very Singaporean" trait.
When defence counsel Choo Zheng Xi asked DSP Lim if he had found "any objective evidence to suggest that the user of able_tree... was not Ai (Takagi)", the witness said he had noticed a different "flow of language, the English, the Singlish... differs when able_tree communicates with different people".
He added: "The words used at times give me the perception that it is Yang, sometimes it is Takagi... based on language, the Hokkien vulgarities."
When Mr Choo asked if Takagi could speak Singlish, DSP Lim replied that she did so at times, using the word "lah".
He also asked DSP Lim if there was no objective evidence that Yang wrote, edited or uploaded any of the seven seditious articles.
DSP Lim said there was none.
The trial continues today.
If convicted, Yang can be fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed for up to three years.
Earlier this 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 in 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 the Filipino's 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 and destroying Singaporean families in the process".
- 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 citizen journalism website Stomp, doctoring it to say that a woman was a Chinese national and posting it on the TRS website.