Ex-Reform Party chairman Charles Yeo to contest charges of wounding religious feelings of Christians
SINGAPORE — Charles Yeo Yao Hui, the 31-year-old chairman of Reform Party, was charged on Wednesday (Jan 19) with wounding the religious feelings of the Christian community and harassing a policeman in social media posts.
SINGAPORE — Charles Yeo Yao Hui, the 31-year-old former chairman of Reform Party, was charged on Wednesday (Jan 19) with wounding the religious feelings of the Christian community and harassing a policeman in social media posts.
Yeo, who is also a lawyer at Whitefield Law Corporation, faces one charge of uttering words with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of another under the Penal Code and two other charges of attempting to do so.
One of his lawyers, Mr Ashwin Ganapathy from IRB Law, told the court that he intends to dispute these charges.
Yeo was also charged with three counts of making abusive, threatening or insulting communication towards a public servant under the Protection from Harassment Act.
Separately, he was one of two people arrested last week over allegedly committing criminal breach of trust and forgery in relation to his law firm's clients. He has not yet been charged over these allegations.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, the Reform Party said that after Yeo's recent arrest, he had offered to stand aside as party chairman until the matter was resolved, and its central executive committee had accepted.
Yeo is accused of making remarks on his Instagram and Facebook accounts to wound the feelings of the Christian community on three occasions — Nov 13 in 2020 as well as on Feb 23 and 26 in 2021.
Court documents stated that through his actions, he caused or attempted to cause the posts "to be seen by Christians who view homosexuality as contrary to their religious beliefs".
Before that, he had posted a series of Instagram Stories on his account "toxicstatenarrativeinsg" on Nov 3 in 2020 and Jan 11 in 2021 aimed at a police officer who had been carrying out his duties. An Instagram Story is a slideshow of photos or videos that will disappear 24 hours after it is uploaded.
Court documents identified the police officer as Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Jonathan Auyong. The documents also carried screenshots of Yeo's posts, including an online article about DSP Auyong.
Prosecutors told the court that they are ready to proceed with the case if Yeo intends to plead not guilty. They also said that he should be "mindful of what he posts on social media" and that bail can be revoked if he commits more offences.
In response, Mr Ashwin said that he would advise his client on this, and that Yeo's instructions were to dispute the Penal Code charges.
District Judge Lorraine Ho ordered the defence to make representations to the prosecution in two weeks' time, and arranged for a pre-trial conference to be held on Feb 25.
She offered bail of S$5,000 to Yeo on the prosecution's application.
If convicted of making remarks to wound religious feelings, he could be jailed for up to three years or fined, or punished with both.
If convicted of using insulting words towards a public servant, he could be jailed for up to 12 months or fined up to S$5,000, or both.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Yeo alleged that he was “facing a swamp of politically motivated persecution aimed at imprisoning or exiling me”.
This was similar to allegations that he had made when he was arrested for purported criminal breach of trust. The police later responded that their investigations were not politically motivated or “trumped up” for political reasons.