Who is Amos Yee?
Amos Yee is a Singaporean blogger, YouTuber personality and activist who split the internet world into two after posting controversial blogs and videos and subsequently getting arrested. While he was vehemently criticized by people who felt outraged by his posts, another group pointed out the lack of free speech in Singapore. Yee, who has often been described as "childlike and lacking in empathy", started posting videos and blogs on sensitive political, cultural and religious issues in his teenage years. Following his criticism of Singapore's former Prime Minister. Lee Kuan Yew, in March 2015, he has been jailed twice in two years. He fled to the United States in December 2016 to seek political asylum, but has been in custody ever since, despite a court ruling in March 2017 which granted him asylum. He is seen by some as a champion of free speech, while others consider him insensitive and hateful.
The Meteoric Rise to Stardom
Amos Yee started his career as a child artist at the age of thirteen with his "self-written, self-directed film" 'Jan' in which he portrayed four different roles. In March 2011, he won two awards at 'The New Paper FiRST Film Festival' for 'Best Short Film' and 'Best Actor'. Moreover, judge of the competition, Jack Neo, a film director and actor, offered him an internship and cast him in his movie 'We Not Naughty', for which he was allowed to write his own dialogues. In January 2012, he created the YouTube channel 'AnusYee' to share his short film 'Jan'. He later discontinued the account and joined YouTube again on July 28, 2012 and posted his first video, a review of the movie 'The Dark Knight Rises'. On August 10, he uploaded a sketch titled 'How To Speak Singlish', which immediately became viral and established him as a budding YouTuber.
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Controversies & Scandals
Once a child prodigy, Amos Yee is now best known for his controversial comments on his blogs and YouTube videos. Even as a child, he courted criticism after posting a video on his original YouTube account criticizing the Chinese New Year as a rip-off of the Western New Year's Day. In the following years, he primarily posted comedic sketches, sometimes including videos on serious issues like 'Homosexuality In Singapore'. However, it was the video he posted on March 27, 2015 after the death of Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, titled 'Lee Kuan Yew is Finally Dead!', that dragged him into legal trouble. Yee compared Yew to Jesus Christ and commented that both were "power-hungry and malicious", and went on to publish a vulgar image of Yew and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on his blog. This led to a number of police reports against him, including one by his mother stating that she was unable to control his behavior and apologized to the nation on his behalf. He was arrested on March 29, 2015, with charges including "deliberate intention of wounding the religious or racial feelings", "threatening, abusive or insulting communication" and obscenity.
Following his release on bail on 31st March 2015, his mother took him to the Institute of Mental Health to see a psychiatrist, but he discontinued it after two sessions. He soon disobeyed the conditions of his bail by again posting on his blog and Facebook page. He was remanded twice during this time for lack of a bailer. He was also slapped by a man who intended to teach him a lesson in front of the media. Amos Yee, who was tried as an adult, was found guilty and was sentenced to four weeks in jail, which he had already served during his remand. Interestingly, he accused counselor, Vincent Law, who had once bailed him out, of molesting him, after he was released. He later revealed that it was a lie, attributing it to his "inherent stupidity". Later in September 2016, he was once again given a six-week prison term after hurting religious sentiments. In December 2016, he landed in the US with a travel visa and sought for political asylum. He was detained at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, but was granted asylum on March 24, 2017 by a US immigration judge. However, he has not yet been released as the Department of Homeland Security is considering appealing against the ruling.
Amos Pang Sang Yee was born on October 31, 1998, in Singapore, to Alphonsus Yee and Mary Toh Ai Buay. His father is a computer engineer and his mother is a mathematics teacher. For primary education, he attended Pei Chun Public School from where he passed with A* in Mathematics and Science, and A in English and Chinese. He later enrolled into Zhonghua Secondary School but dropped out despite having good results. He was raised as a Catholic but identifies himself as an atheist.