[Opinion Essay/Review] : Why silence over Amos Yee Saga in mainstream current affairs discussion platforms? – Part I

* Quoted in red are quotes by our interviewees. 


Talk Shows and Topics

I watched the repeat telecast of the CNA discussion show – [Future Forward] only a few weeks back on the episode of – “The Future Of Tolerance”. It questioned whether we are becoming a more or less tolerant society towards diverse people, matters and views. To my surprise today, I realised it was shown late last year in October though I had wrongly assumed this episode was in line with the recent Amos Yee Saga.

They also had another episode in march this year – “The Age Of Internet” which I did not watch, but the trailer mentioned about “information (on the internet) could lead to misunderstandings”. I guess, our prediction of the future has peaked quite early, with the Amos Yee Saga blowing up only less than a month later. Our local mainstream media do have a few current affairs, or discussion shows e.g. Talking Point.


Amos Yee Saga not brought up on mainstream current affair shows?

Yet, almost none brought up the topic of the Amos Yee Saga directly, which I saw as a relevant topic, since his face and news of him was more often than not, “blasted” on our daily mainstream news media feed. Maybe, the topic itself was self-censored as it was too controversial to debate on? Maybe there were too many improvements that could be made in the laws? Or loopholes in handling of the issue that may portray our G in a negative light?


Having said all that, I’ll move on to the main focus which is the Aljazeera – a global social media based show which discussed about freedom of expression and speech in Singapore; in their episode on July 20 this year. It is quite any irony that rallies were done overseas before Singapore even held one, this saga having captured the attention and empathy of foreign media, talk shows and human right organization whereas – our mainstream media only provided regular “news” on the matter itself, but not a “platform” to openly discuss the matter, nor look at it from a more empathetic perspective.


Difference in Societal Ideology

It seemed like foreigners did not agree with the way the government handled the situation, whereas many Singaporeans felt the opposite to the whole situation. I would say parallels reaction from different spectrum of the world because we are all brought up in a different cultural, societal, political and media landscape.

Some speakers include – journalist Kirsten Han from The Online Citizen (TOC). The Singaporean director of the film Unlucky Plaza – Ken Kwek, and Sean Francis Han from The Calling It Out Talk Show, TOC’s premier programme which aims to bring local current affairs to youths.


11 relevant points that were debated on and my personal opinion on it:

  1. Is the bar too low for the law to be kicked in because of “hurt feelings” by people when they are exposed to information they deemed as rude or insensitive?
  • If Singaporeans are going to call up the police because their feelings, or people, were offended by what Amos Yee said, that’s not something the authorities caused, nor can they prevent or stop. And if the police do not response, they will also likewise receive backlash for not doing anything.

“To be fair, I think the persecution didn’t come from the top. It came from the bottom. It was people like you, people like me who was making police report. It wasn’t Lee Hsien Loong who you know, sued him you know or anything, this wasn’t a top down prosecution.”

Taken from – A teacher’s perspective of the Amos Yee Saga


  1. Should the focus be on anti-discrimination laws instead of clamping down on freedom of speech to ensure harmony in our diverse society?
  • This is a new perspective towards the matter that I did not even think of. People who support more liberal freedom of speech may not support Amos Yee. By limiting freedom of speech, it may not be the only way to ensure harmony. Maybe, the government can look into laws that will support anti-discrimination instead.


  1. Self-censorship becoming a norm out of fear of getting into trouble with the law? Which leads to lack of diverse views in the mainstream media.
  • Be it political films with an alternative insight, R21 films, theatre, television, press, even when talking in public. Self-censorship can be observed in many platforms, and it has become a learnt culture from young.

“One thing I find peculiar is the particular exclusivity of our media landscape. Almost all mainstream press comes under SPH, and all our local non-cable TV channels comes under MediaCorp .”

 “Will we become conditioned to reflect and ponder less, as well as to not speak up in regards to national/social issues out of fear of the consequences it may bring?”

Article taken from – Are Singaporeans too afraid to speak up?


(Impact of Xenophobia in Africa)

  1. Xenophobia and racism is not addressed openly in Singapore e.g. degrading comments online
  • We do have mainstream media talk shows but they hardly dwell in-depth into sensitive but equally as relevant national issues, preferring to discuss and explore a more generalized topic that will subtly cover the sensitive matter.

“What possible outlets can the media or government provide – to allow people to openly and meaningfully express their constructive criticisms, opinions or feedback towards in-depth and important social/political?”

Article taken from – Are Singaporeans too afraid to speak up?


  1. Singaporeans are not afraid as to speak up openly on online media as the latter is an open platform
  • I agree with this, as seen from online comments thrashing foreigners, Amos Yee or the government – be it anonymous or not.

You can check out Part II of the post here 🙂

Written by: Cass

To check out more of our posts on the Amos Yee Saga, click HERE


Main image credits:  Paris Chia Photography (website), @Instagram@Facebook



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Article for reading: 1994 – 2015: A Chronology of Authoritarian Rule in Singapore

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