TRS accused admits he lied to police last year
After admitting to lying in court this week, Yang Kaiheng confesses to lying about friend's involvement in TRS website
A day after admitting during cross-examination that he had lied in court, Yang Kaiheng confessed yesterday to lying to the police last year.
When asked by the police last year about Mr Damien Koh's connection to socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS), Yang said he had no idea of any connection.
Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) G. Kannan asked him whether his statement to the police was untrue. Yang admitted it was.
Mr Koh, a web developer, had joined Yang and his then-girlfriend, Ai Takagi, to create and launch TRS in 2012.
Yang, 27, told the District Court that he had kept this from the police because he did not want to get his friend in trouble.
Yang is on trial for seven counts of sedition. (See report above.)
He and Takagi, 23, who is now his wife, were charged in April last year.
Last month, Takagi, an Australian of Japanese descent, was jailed for 10 months after pleading guilty to four counts of sedition.
Mr Koh later quit TRS.
After Yang was arrested by the police in February last year, he told the police that Mr Koh, whom he had met during their University of Queensland days, was not involved in TRS.
But since taking the stand on Wednesday to make his defence, Yang had testified that Mr Koh was one of TRS' founders and handled its technical aspects.
Yesterday, DPP Kannan asked Yang to explain this "material contradiction".
Yang replied: "I was being investigated for sedition during my interview. I didn't want to implicate my friend. I was sure he had nothing to do with sedition in the TRS site."
DPP Kannan asked Yang if he had any reason to believe Mr Koh was involved in the content posted on TRS.
Yang said no.
DPP Kannan then said that Yang had no reason to fear for his friend.
Yang replied: "I disagree. My reason is that I didn't want him to be called up by the police and be implicated in the sedition case."
On Wednesday, Yang admitted he had lied in court the previous day about Takagi helping him set up a Facebook page against MP Tin Pei Ling after the General Election in May 2011.
DPP Kannan told Yang that was impossible because the couple had yet to meet at the time.
When Yang insisted that Takagi had set up the Facebook page with him, DPP Kannan said a log of "very personal and embarrassing" WhatsApp messages between Yang and Takagi would prove they had met only after the Facebook page was created.
Yang then conceded that he had lied and had set up the Facebook page on his own.
DPP Kannan said he would address Yang's inconsistent remarks during submissions to the judge at the end of the trial.
Yesterday, DPP Kannan also revisited the chat logs involving the "able_tree" Skype account shared between Yang and Takagi.
Although both sides agree that the person behind "able_tree" must have owned and maintained TRS, the defence maintains that only Takagi had used it when it came to matters involving TRS.
Defence lawyer Choo Zheng Xi previously gave the example of an India-based web developer being interviewed by "able_tree" addressing the user as "Ai".
Yang also testified that he used the account only for chats with friends.
But the prosecution argued that "able_tree" had used Singlish phrases as well as Hokkien vulgarities.
In one conversation with Mr Koh, "able_tree" had said that Takagi was "quite zai sia" (Hokkien for steady) and that "she type e-mail like lawyer like that".
DPP Kannan pointed out yesterday that "able_tree" had discussed with Mr Koh about advertisement placements on TRS, plans to expand into the Malaysian market and issues related to site maintenance.
He said the prosecution would show later in the trial that Yang was the person behind the discussions.
He also applied for more time to review Yang's and Takagi's financial documents submitted by the defence on Wednesday.
The trial was adjourned to June 22.
If found guilty, Yang can be jailed up to three years and fined up to $5,000 for each sedition charge.
Yang Kaiheng, 27, is accused of seven counts of sedition:
- An article falsely asserting that a Filipino family caused an incident between the police and participants at last year's Thaipusam procession.
- A similar Facebook post.
- An article alleging that a Filipino employee 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.
An eighth charge of failing to produce documents to the police for investigations was stood down.