Monday 12 January 2015

Filipino who made ‘xenophobic, inflammatory’ remarks convicted under Sedition Act

* Filipino national Ed Mundsel Bello Ello gets four months' jail for inflammatory posts
By Elena Chong, Court Correspondent, The Straits Times, 22 Sep 2015

A district judge, who yesterday sentenced a Filipino national to four months' jail for his extremely provocative and inflammatory comments online, said a clear and unequivocal signal has to be sent that such offences will be met with the full brunt of the law.

District Judge Siva Shanmugam said that, in a nation whose only resource is its people, any act which poses a threat to its social stability and security cannot be condoned.

He said Ed Mundsel Bello Ello's comments had the potential to harm relations between Singaporeans and Filipinos in Singapore.

The 29-year-old former assistant nurse's comments may already have affected many people adversely, as is evident from the ensuing public disquiet and impassioned responses, he said. If left unchecked, Ello's provocative conduct could result in discrimination against the innocent and law-abiding minority Filipino residents here.

He admitted to posting comments on Facebook criticising Singaporeans
Posted by The New Paper on Monday, September 21, 2015

The judge said Ello intended to agitate and infuriate readers.

He had two Facebook accounts - one under the name Edz Ello and the other under an alias, Lee Andrew Hng.

On Jan 2, he posted as Edz Ello on the The Real Singapore's Facebook page. He said Singaporeans were losers, that Filipinos were better and stronger than Singaporeans, and that Filipinos would evict Singaporeans as well as take over their jobs, women and future.

In another post that evening, he affirmed that Filipinos would evict Singaporeans and that Singapore would be a new Filipino state.

Many aggrieved Singaporeans felt offended and lodged police reports against him. The comments also attracted hundreds of replies, many of which involved racial slurs.

Ello pleaded guilty to one of two Sedition Act charges, as well as two of three counts of lying to the police.

The court heard that he had been making many vile, derogatory and offensive posts on issues of race and nationality since the middle of last year.

Alarmed by the hostility generated by his comments on Jan 2, Ello deleted them later that evening. But they had gone viral and were republished elsewhere online.

When he realised that netizens had uncovered his identity, he took steps to avoid blame for the posts.

Among other things, he lied to the police that his Facebook account had been hacked and the posts had been made by someone else.

In a statement, the Ministry of Manpower said it takes a serious view of work-pass holders who do not comply with Singapore laws. Foreigners who are convicted and sentenced to jail will have their work passes revoked and be barred permanently from working in Singapore.

A Filipino convicted of making disparaging comments online about Singaporeans and two counts of providing false information to the police was jailed for four months on Monday.
Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, September 21, 2015

Foreigner who made inflammatory remarks convicted
By Elena Chong, Court Correspondent, The Straits Times, 27 Aug 2015

A Filipino who made disparaging comments about Singaporeans through his Facebook page, and then lied to police repeatedly, pleaded guilty yesterday.

The prosecution is now seeking a sentence of 20 weeks in jail for Ed Mundsel Bello Ello, calling his remarks "xenophobic, derogatory and highly inflammatory".

District Judge Siva Shanmugam adjourned sentencing to Sept 16.

Filipino Ed Mundsel Bello Ello made anti-Singaporean comments on Facebook, then lied to the police that his account had been accessed by someone else.
Posted by The Straits Times on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

On Jan 2, the 29-year-old had labelled Singaporeans as "loosers (sic) in their own country" and vowed to "take their jobs" before "evicting" them from here. Claiming that Singapore would be the "new Filipino state", he also prayed for disasters to strike the country.

The post made on The Real Singapore Facebook page, which went viral on social media, was criticised by Filipinos and Singaporeans.

Worried about the repercussions, the assistant nurse, who was eventually sacked by Tan Tock Seng Hospital, lodged a police report the next day claiming a stranger had accessed his Facebook account and posted those statements. He added that the stranger must have used a computer at a Lucky Plaza cybercafe he had logged on to. Police seized the cybercafe terminal along with two of Ello's mobile devices. These were sent for forensic analysis. Only after he was confronted with evidence did he confess that he made the post using his "Edz Ello'' Facebook account from his home.

Yesterday, he was convicted of one charge under the Sedition Act, for promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility. Ello, who is on bail, also admitted his guilt on two counts of providing false information to police.

An additional charge under the Sedition Act, and another for lying to police, will be taken into consideration during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kumaresan Gohulabalan said that since mid-last year, Ello had a habit of making inflammatory comments about Singaporeans, including using a Facebook account where he posed as a Chinese woman.

Describing Ello's Jan 2 comments as hate speech, the DPP said they provoked a large number of Singaporeans. "More than 600 replies were published on various forums online, many of which were vitriolic in substance," he said, adding that numerous police reports were filed against Ello.

He also pointed out that Ello has yet to apologise for his post.

Ello's lawyer Mark Goh said the comments were intended to stir up the emotions of those who frequented sociopolitical websites, but his client ended up being alienated and "flamed" by the netizens.

"The irony in this case was that Ed effectively shot himself in the the foot,'' he said, adding that a sentence of six weeks in jail was sufficient if the court decides on a custodial sentence. "This incident has already extracted a terrible price to both himself and his family. He alienated himself from Singaporean society... lost his job and his retired parents have lost a source of income for the family."

The maximum penalty under the Sedition Act is a $5,000 fine and three years' jail. For giving false information to a public servant, he could be jailed for up to a year and/ or fined up to $5,000 per charge. - Ello Ed Mundsel Bello, 28, who made disparaging remarks about Singaporeans on Facebook, has been...
Posted by TODAY on Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Former Filipino nurse charged with sedition, giving false info to police
Nurse charged over Facebook comments
By Elena Chong, Court Correspondent, The Straits Times, 8 Apr 2015

A FILIPINO nurse who allegedly made anti-Singaporean comments on Facebook was yesterday charged not only with sedition, but also with lying to the police.

Ello Ed Mundsel Bello had allegedly told the authorities that his Facebook account had been hacked and that he was not behind the comments which were posted in January.

When asked why it took some time before Ello was charged, a spokesman for the Attorney-General's Chambers pointed to the alleged fake information given by the 28-year-old.

The Straits Times understands that investigations took three months, and involved digital forensic analysis of computing devices, examination of server logs, and the recording of detailed statements from relevant witnesses.

Filipino nurse, Ed Mundsel Bello Ello, who was sacked by Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) in connection with his postings...
Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, April 7, 2015

In his Jan 2 post, Ello allegedly called Singaporeans "loosers" (sic) and vowed to "evict" them from their country. He prayed that "disators" (disasters) would strike Singapore and "more Singaporeans will die" and he would celebrate. The post ended with "Pinoy better and stronger than Stinkaporeans".

He also allegedly commented in another post that evening that he would "kick out all Singaporeans" and this country will be a new "filipino state".

According to the charges, the posts could promote feelings of ill will and hostility between Singaporeans and Filipinos here.

The day after the posts, on Jan 3, he told police at Chong Pang Neighbourhood Police Post that he did not put up the comments.

On Jan 4, he repeated his claims to a senior police officer at Ang Mo Kio Police Division headquarters, adding that his Facebook account had been hacked. The next day, he allegedly lied to the same officer again.

On Jan 9, he was fired by Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Asked yesterday by District Judge Ronald Gwee if he was going to engage a lawyer, Ello said he would. Bail of $10,000 was offered and his passport has been impounded. A pre-trial conference has been set for April 21.

Police said they take a stern view of acts that could threaten social harmony in Singapore.

Furthermore, giving false information to the police ties up valuable resources which could have been deployed to deal with other crimes.

"It is a serious offence and those who provide false information will face the full weight of the law."

Under the Sedition Act, anyone found guilty of promoting feelings of ill will and hostility between different races or classes of the population shall be fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed for up to three years.

Providing false information to a public servant is punishable with a jail term of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $5,000 per charge.

Filipino nurse who made offensive comments on Facebook fired
Why Filipino nurse had to be sacked
By Janice Tai and Carolyn Khew, The Sunday Times, 11 Jan 2015

The online comments made by a Filipino nurse are not compatible with the standards of behaviour expected of hospital employees, said the Health Ministry in a statement yesterday, a day after Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) sacked him.

"The ministry expects all health- care professionals, whether local or foreign, in our public institutions to uphold the values of respect for those they serve, professionalism, integrity and social responsibility," said its spokesman.

Mr Ello Ed Mundsel Bello was dismissed last Friday for posting three offensive comments concerning Singapore and religion on his Facebook and Google Plus pages last year.

His disparaging remarks came to the attention of TTSH after more offending posts made on Facebook this year went viral a few days ago. In these posts, he allegedly called Singaporeans "loosers" (losers), and said he was "praying that disators (disasters) will strike Singapore".

However, Mr Bello claimed that his account had been hacked and that he had made a police report.

When contacted, police said investigations are ongoing, and they will provide an update later.

The Philippine Embassy in Singapore told The Sunday Times it is advising Mr Bello on the probe.

Mr Bello's online comments had riled some netizens, who complained to the hospital. A Facebook group, "Petition to deport Edz Ello the Filipino", has amassed more than 700 members.

Similar offensive comments on social media had previously led to some people losing their jobs.

Briton Anton Casey was fired from his wealth manager job last year for lamenting the "stench" of public transport; in 2012, Ms Amy Cheong lost her job at NTUC after drawing flak for complaining about Malay traditional weddings.

Commentators and public relations practitioners say it is not surprising that Mr Bello was sacked.

National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser said: "To begin with, there are already some negative vibes towards Filipinos in general. The nurse's bad-mouthing Singaporeans has therefore struck a raw nerve."

Last year, a Philippine Independence Day celebration for Filipinos in Singapore was cancelled due to concerns about public safety and security, following online abuse directed at the choice of venue and the Filipino community.

Despite these episodes, Dr Mathew Mathews, senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies, said many Singaporeans have positive experiences with Filipinos, whether as colleagues or domestic helpers.

But Singapore Management University law don Eugene Tan said this familiarity can, at times, breed contempt. "The close proximity and exposure to each other make the apparent differences real, more grating and divisive."

Veteran PR practitioner Cho Pei Lin said these differences are accentuated with the rise of social media: "While these anti-social comments may go unnoticed in the past if one talks about it at a party or over dinner, now the line which employers are toeing is deciding how much their workers can say before taking action."

Madam Luz Campos, 58, a magazine general manager who is from the Philippines but has become a Singapore citizen, said Mr Bello's dismissal was necessary. "It is so that such incidents don't repeat themselves as they only worsen the relations Singaporeans have with Filipinos who work here," she said.

Hospital nurse fired over online insults
By Hoe Pei Shan, The Straits Times, 10 Jan 2015

TAN Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) has fired the Filipino nurse at the middle of an online storm last week for allegedly disparaging Singaporeans on Facebook.

Mr Ello Ed Mundsel Bello allegedly called Singaporeans "loosers" (losers), and said he was "praying that disators (disasters) will strike Singapore".

While the police are still looking into this, TTSH said it had investigated and found that Mr Bello had made other offensive online comments last year.

It said it was alerted to earlier online posts made by Mr Bello last year, including an offensive Facebook comment on Singapore, and two offensive comments on religion on his Google Plus page.

Mr Bello, who joined TTSH in October, was under probation when he made those comments, it added.

Mr Bello confirmed he had made those three posts, despite claiming earlier that his Facebook account had been hacked. He was then dismissed.

"These comments were highly irresponsible and offensive to Singapore and religion," said a TTSH spokesman. "They have distressed members of the public and our hospital staff."

TTSH's decision was independent of the ongoing police probe into the more recent posts allegedly made by Mr Bello.

Hospital staff says Facebook account with anti-Singaporean comments was hacked
By Chew Hui Min, The Straits Times, 4 Jan 2015

Tan Tock Seng Hospital has said that anti-Singaporean comments that have been circulating online were posted on the Facebook profile of one of its staff whose account was hacked.

"Dear all, the staff concerned is one (of) our nurses. He has reported to the police that his Facebook account has been hacked. We are cooperating with the police on the investigation. Thank you for the alerts and concern," the hospital wrote on its official Facebook page on Sunday.

A screenshot of the post has been circulating online. The Facebook user wrote in the post that Singaporeans are "loosers" (losers), and he was "praying that disators (disasters) will strike Singapore".

Earlier, it said that it was investigating the comments, which were said to be posted by one of their employees.

"Dear all, thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. We expect our staff to be respectful and professional. Rest assured we are looking into this," the hospital posted on Sunday morning.

Some netizens had sent complaints to the hospital based on the screenshot of the insulting comments, but others questioned the authenticity of the post.

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