Update: Ai Takagi is currently 2 months pregnant. If the 14 month jail sentence goes through, her baby will be born in jail while the mother is still imprisoned.
The Singapore government is seeking a 14-month jail sentence for Australian Ai Takagi for four counts of sedition charges over “doctored and patently false material”. Ai Takagi’s website, The Real Singapore (TRS), was a popular free media that regularly posted anti-government articles. The website was forced to shut down by the censorship board in April 2015.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) G Kannan said that the 14 months jail sentence is justified because AI Takagi “was devoid of genuine remorse” and “manufactured seditious posts for profits”.
According to the DPP, The Real Singapore made AUD$474,594.56 between Dec 2013 and Apr 2015. However, it is not known if this figure is accurate as the TRS editors did not hand over financial information to the investigators, which formed another charge for not cooperating with the police.
DPP G Kannan said “the court must safeguard one of the most important and envied characteristics of Singapore – racial and religious harmony.”, and claimed that the TRS website fanned anti-foreigner sentiments among Singaporeans. There are however no evidence presented or incidents quoted were resulted from anti-foreigner sentiments. There was no reported crimes related to anti-foreigner either.
Ai Takagi faces 4 counts of sedition charges, totaling up to a maximum of 12 years’ imprisonment and S$20,000 fine. Her husband, Yang Kai Heng, is facing 7 counts of sedition charges but did not plead guilty as he denied any involvement with the website. The duo was arrested when they landed in Singapore in Feb 2015. TRS’s third editor Alex Tan is currently living in self-exile in Sydney and left to set up States Times Review in May 2015, barely a week after the forced shut down of The Real Singapore.