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21-year-old charged with harassment, hurting religious feelings in Instagram posts

SINGAPORE — A 21-year-old man was on Monday (Dec 20) charged with posting Instagram Stories last year that wounded the religious feelings of the Muslim community.

Sun Sicong leaving the State Courts on Dec 20, 2021.

Sun Sicong leaving the State Courts on Dec 20, 2021.

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SINGAPORE — A 21-year-old man was on Monday (Dec 20) charged with posting Instagram Stories last year that wounded the religious feelings of the Muslim community.

Sun Sicong, who is a student at Temasek Polytechnic, faces three criminal charges, which also include making insulting communication and possessing obscene films.

He turned up in court dressed in a suit, telling District Judge Lim Wen Juin that he intended to plead guilty to the "first two charges” and he remained undecided on whether to hire a lawyer.

Court documents state that Sun is a Singapore permanent resident who came from China.

He allegedly uploaded the Instagram Story posts between 2018 and 2019. They allegedly “contained remarks against the Islam religion… with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of Muslims in general”.

Among the posts that were believed to be uploaded by Sun and circulated widely last year, one claimed to have “no problem committing genocide”. In another post, he was said to have threatened to burn religious texts such as the Bible and the Quran. 

Sun was also charged with causing harassment, alarm or distress in more Instagram Stories on June 7 last year. The posts allegedly contained remarks about a rape victim’s recount of the ordeal.

Sun is further accused of downloading two obscene films on April 9 and May 31 last year. The clips were found on his iPhone, but court documents did not give more details about the contents.

The police said in a statement on Sunday that they received many reports of an Instagram user — whom they did not name — posting insensitive comments and threats inciting violence against the Muslim community. The posts also contained hate comments.

Officers identified the man after investigations and arrested him. A laptop, a computer and a mobile phone were seized.

On Monday, District Judge Lim increased Sun's bail quantum from S$5,000 to S$10,000 on a police prosecutor’s application. The prosecutor also said that the Attorney-General’s Chambers had not prepared a plea offer yet.

Sun said that he wished to plead guilty to two charges and asked if he could get a sentencing position.

The judge said that the prosecution needed to consider the matter further and advised him to speak to a lawyer in the meantime.

The judge also asked Sun if his parents could help him put up the increased bail, to which Sun said: “I’m not too sure, but I think so, yeah.”

The youth will return to court on Jan 14.

If convicted of uttering words with the deliberate intent to hurt the religious feelings of another — an offence under the Penal Code — he could be jailed for up to three years or fined, or receive both penalties.

Those convicted of possessing obscene films can receive a jail term of up to six months or a fine of up to S$20,000, or both.

Those convicted of making insulting communication under the Protection from Harassment Act can be fined up to S$5,000.

In response to TODAY's queries, Temasek Polytechnic said that Sun was suspended for two consecutive semesters following investigations conducted by the school in June 2020.

"(The polytechnic) does not condone any action or behaviour that incites hatred and violence. As the case is before the courts, we are unable to comment further," it added.

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this report stated that Sun is a Singaporean. Court documents have since been updated to reflect that he is a Singapore permanent resident.

Related topics

court crime Instagram religious groups Sun Sicong obscene video Temasek Polytechnic

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