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May 08

Arrested for a racist blog post

A Chinese-Singaporean blogger going under the handle of “Fragrance Prince” was travelling on the MRT one day. Sitting on the floor of the train was a hobo, who apparently was suffering a particularly noticeable case of bromhidrosis. Feeling so offended by the man’s very presence, he snapped a photo. Based on that photo, Singaporean hobos look pretty presentable actually. Later that day, the Prince returned home and vented his feelings in a blog post entitled “Weirdo In 1st World Country”.

Unfortunately, the hobo turned out to be a Malay and the Prince’s rant on the hobo disintegrated instead into a racist rant aimed squarely at Malays. You can read the post here.

Pretty distasteful stuff. But then a few days later, someone knocked on his door and the day after that, the news reported that:

POLICE have arrested a 24-year-old man for posting contents in his blog that could “wound the racial feelings of another”, according to their statement.

The man was picked up at about 9.45 pm at his home in Paya Lebar Way. A computer was seized for investigations. …

Under the amendments made last September to the Penal Code, whoever, with intent to wound the religious or racial feelings of any person, causes any matter to be seen or heard by that person, shall be punished with a jail term of up to three years, or with a fine, or with both.

Ouch. That’s a pretty hardcore law, and that’s a pretty hardcore way of enforcing it. Then again, the Singaporeans aren’t exactly known for being soft. (Interestingly, it looks like judicial caning was actually introduced by the British to Singapore… probably a way to beat the natives into submission… but then when the Brits left, the Singaporeans decided they liked the idea and ran with it. Kind of ironic.)

Our racial vilification laws in NSW are quite a bit softer. It looks like making a racist blog post may only a criminal offence if it incites hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person (or group of persons) on the ground of the race of the person, either because it threatens physical harm towards the person or their property, or incites others to cause that physical harm. And then the maximum penalty is only a fine and/or up to 6 months in the slammer. It looks like if Fragrance Prince was living in Sydney when he did that, he’d still be sitting pretty at home (though no doubt trying to fend off an online flame war).

  10:14pm (GMT +10.00)  •  Law  •   •  Tweet This  •  Add a comment