Screenshot from TRS

Singapore prosecutors were reported making vicious accusations against the two former TRS editors but without presenting any evidence to back up their claims. 23-year-old Japanese-heritage Australian, Ai Takagi, pleaded guilty to four counts of charges under the country’s draconian Sedition Act today in the Singapore Court. According to the Sedition Act, any action that undermine the Singapore government is seditious.

The Singapore prosecutors made a list of accusations but did not present any evidence including 6 of the 7 alleged articles that are supposedly seditious:

“The seditious posts aimed to fan anti-foreigner sentiments among Singaporeans, targeting foreigners from the Philippines, India and China.

Ai Takagi had concocted “scandalous, provocative and racy material” in a bid to increase TRS’ following and garner “enormous” advertising revenue.

Takagi and husband Yang Kaiheng, 27, who has also been charged, pocketed sums of AU$20,000 to more than AU$50,000 per month.”

Singapore’s government-controlled media quoted an article where TRS made an inaccurate statement in their current affairs report on the Thaipusam incident. A Filipino family was inaccurately reported as being the cause behind the fight between the police and Indian protestors. However, there was no material or reputation losses resulted from the inaccuracy, which was later rectified with an apology.

There were no evidence presented in court to prove the site was fanning anti-sentiments and neither there is any evidence suggesting that the couple pocketed the “enormous” sums of advertising revenue when the duo refused to produce financial statements. No evidence was presented for their claims of “scandalous, provocative and racy material” as well.

The only evidence presented in the Singapore media was the Thaipusam incident, however, paid-commentators have swarmed public forums in order to present a negative image over TRS, which was a very popular anti-government site with Singaporeans.

Singapore’s government-controlled SPH also published an article claiming without basis that Ai Takagi goes by the moniker “Farhan” and that the Australian used the Malay nickname to appear as foreigners. Another website All Singapore Stuff is also using the moniker “Farhan” to which the SPH has no response to.

Without evidence again, The Straits Times wrote and speculated: “The posts exploited racist and xenophobic faultlines and drew a substantial amount of traffic to the site, which raked in nearly $500,000 in advertising revenue in 17 months.”

Singapore’s mainstream media under SPH is ranked 153rd in the world for press accuracy. The Real Singapore gained traction and popularity solely because the government-controlled media is biased. It makes no sense to achieve a ranking better than the leading Straits Times in web traffic simply by “exploiting racist and xenophobic fault lines” as they claimed.