You may remember the now infamous Amos Yee, the teenager who made online attacks on late former Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew. Earlier in May, he was convicted in May on 2 criminal charges: wounding religious feelings in an expletive-laden video comparing Lee to Jesus, and circulating an obscene cartoon of the former prime minister, who passed away in March.
Well, there could be a real medical reason behind his stint of misbehaving – he could be ill.
A Singapore court on Tuesday (23rd June) ordered psychiatric tests for the 16-year-old. According to Yahoo News via AFP, Amos Yee will be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for 2 weeks to undergo further examination after previously being declared mentally and physically fit for an 18-month stint in a reformatory.
District Judge Jasvender Kaur cited a psychiatrist’s opinion that Amos, who was being held at Changi prison, may be suffering from “autism spectrum disorder”. “I am of the view that I ought to explore the sentencing option of a mandatory treatment order,” the judge said, rather than confinement in a reformatory.
Note: Autism spectrum disorder, otherwise known as ASD, is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less. (Source: CDC)
Amos had been expected to avoid confinement after his conviction but rejected an offer of probation and reposted the offending video on YouTube, where it has generated more than one million views. He also republished on his blog a sexually graphic cartoon involving Lee and the late former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. But after Tuesday’s hearing, the controversial anti-Lee video and cartoon were both unavailable for public viewing after Amos undertook to make them private.
If he’s sent to the Reformative Training Centre, he will have to undergo at least 18 months of rehabilitation, drills and counselling but will be kept away from adult prisoners.
In a separate report by The Straits Times, his father Alphonsus Yee told reporters that to his knowledge, Amos had not been previously assessed for autism spectrum disorder.
He said, “There have been a lot of speculations online about this, but nothing in his growing up years suggested this.”