Amos Yee remanded at IMH
Blogger may be suffering from autism spectrum disorder, says psychiatric report
He would usually smile and wave at supporters in the gallery when he appeared in court.
But after three weeks of remand at Changi Prison, blogger Amos Yee Pang Sang, 16, seemed more subdued when he entered the courtroom yesterday.
He did not even glance at the gallery as he made his way towards the dock.
He appeared in the State Courts after he was found to be suitable for reformative training.
But during remand, psychiatrist Munidasa Winslow found that Yee may be suffering from autism spectrum disorder. (See report above.)
Based on Dr Winslow's report, District Judge Jasvender Kaur yesterday ordered that Yee be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for two weeks.
While at IMH, he will be assessed for his suitability for a mandatory treatment order (MTO).
An MTO is for offenders who suffer from psychiatric conditions.
Such offenders have to go for psychiatric treatment instead of jail.
An MTO is capped at two years.
The court also heard yesterday there had been two occasions when the prosecution suggested that Yee's mental condition be assessed by experts.
During Yee's bail review on May 6, prosecutors said in submissions that the teenager is a "troubled young man who needs psychiatric help".
Six days later, Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun asked the court to consider calling for an MTO report on Yee.
But his lawyer, Mr Alfred Dodwell, in his mitigation plea last month, asked that his client be fined or jailed for at least two weeks instead.
The teenager's father, Mr Alphonsus Yee, told reporters yesterday that his son had not been previously assessed for autism spectrum disorder.
He said: "There has been a lot of speculation online about this, but nothing in his growing up years suggested this."
Should Yee be found unsuitable for an MTO, he may be sent for rehabilitation at a reformative training centre (RTC).
Those sent to RTC must serve between 18 months and three years.
They must also undergo a strict regimen that includes foot drills and counselling.
Yee will be back in court on July 6 when the judge will consider sentencing options.
He was convicted last month of two of the three charges against him following a two-day trial.
Judge Kaur found him guilty of insulting Christianity and uploading an obscene image online.
A third charge under the Protection from Harassment Act, accusing Yee of posting an insulting video clip online containing remarks about former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, had been withdrawn.
UN Human Rights Office: Release Yee
The United Nations Human Rights Office for South-east Asia has called for the immediate release of blogger Amos Yee Pang Sang, 16.
In a statement on Monday, the Bangkok-based Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) urged the Singapore Government to review the teenager's conviction.
It also asked for prosecutors to drop their demand for Yee to be sentenced to a reformative training centre (RTC).
After a two-day trial, Yee was found guilty on May 12 of uploading an obscene image online and making remarks intending to hurt the feelings of Christians in a video.
The OHCHR also said it was aware that Yee was being assessed for reformative training.
But it expressed concern that an RTC stint is "akin to detention and usually applied to juvenile offenders involved in serious crimes".
The UN agency said it recognised Singapore's concerns about issues of public morality and social harmony.
But it did not think that reformative training was an appropriate sentence for Yee.
The OHCHR also appealed to the authorities to "give special consideration to his juvenile status".
Yee is remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for two weeks.
He will be back in court on July 6.
WHAT ARE AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS?
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a range of developmental disorders characterised by difficulties in socialising and communication, and a restricted or repetitive pattern of behaviour and interest.
According to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) website, they include Asperger's syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder.
It added that a person who has ASD may show signs like having trouble understanding the feelings of others, having little or no interest in others and preferring to be alone.
He or she may also laugh or cry for no apparent reason and have difficulties with changes in routine.
The IMH website also adds that although there is no cure for autism, there are ways to help patients improve, such as intensive speech therapy, social skills training and occupational training.
It is estimated that one out of 150 children today have some form of ASD, says the IMH website.