Thursday 16 April 2015

Couple behind The Real Singapore charged with sedition

Couple behind TRS website face sedition charges
By Elena Chong, Court Correspondent, The Straits Times, 15 Apr 2015

THE couple behind sociopolitical website The Real Singapore (TRS) were yesterday charged with seven counts of sedition and one of failing to produce documents to a police officer.

Singaporean student Yang Kaiheng, 26, and his Australian girlfriend Ai Takagi, 22, published articles on the site between October 2013 and February this year which allegedly promoted ill will and hostility between different races or classes here.

The Real Singapore shut down on MDA's orders

* TRS Sedition Trial

The latest incident involved the Thaipusam procession on Feb 3 in which three men were arrested for disorderly behaviour.

The next day, TRS published a reader's letter which claimed that the incident happened after a Filipino family complained to the police that the drums were making their child cry.

Similar claims were made in a post on TRS' Facebook page.

However, the contributor later commented on another site that it was untrue a Filipino family was involved.

Police investigations went on to reveal that TRS had previously published articles targeting Filipinos as well as Chinese and Indian nationals, among others.

On May 22 last year, for instance, the TRS website carried a contributor's letter questioning the number of women from China allowed into Singapore, claiming that "many" of them are here to "hook men" and are responsible for the break-up of local families.

In a Nov 24, 2013 article, a letter writer claimed that he sacked seven employees - six Filipinos and an Indian - after alleging that they had "colluded in hiring their own nationals".

Another article on June 18 last year disparaged Filipinos here for allegedly giving preferential treatment to their compatriots.

An editor's note put up on the TRS website in October 2013 stated that "our objective is to instil fear in companies and make them think twice before hiring foreigners without really considering our Singaporean workforce".

The last charge accuses the couple of intentionally failing to produce documents - including revenue information pertaining to TRS advertising - to Deputy Superintendent Roy Lim last month.

TRS, which was set up in 2012, says on its site that it is not funded by political organisations or companies, but draws its income from advertising.

It said the site is hosted in Switzerland, the United States and Sweden.

Takagi and Yang, who are believed to be studying at the University of Queensland, have been identified by police as being jointly responsible for the content on TRS.

They are out on $20,000 bail each on condition that they surrender their passports to police.

Mr Choo Zheng Xi and Mr Raj Mannar are representing the couple, whose pre-trial conference is scheduled for May 12.

Under the Sedition Act, the maximum punishment on each charge is a $5,000 fine and three years' jail.

The other charge carries a jail term of up to one month or a $1,500 fine, or both.

JUST IN: Couple behind The Real Singapore charged under Sedition Act. Kaiheng, 26, and his girlfriend,...
Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, April 13, 2015

The couple behind The Real Singapore, Yang Kaiheng and Ai Takagi, have been charged with seven counts of sedition each. They also face an eighth charge under the Penal code.
Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday, April 14, 2015

JUST IN: Two people behind The Real Singapore, Yang Kaiheng and Ai Takagi, have been charged with seven counts of sedition.
Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Monday, April 13, 2015

The articles in question

FEB 4: "Video: Local Singaporeans Complain Of Police Brutality At Thaipusam Procession", plus post on The Real Singapore's Facebook page

Issue: These assert that a Filipino family caused the clash between police and participants

JUNE 18, 2014: "Why Some Singaporeans Feel Annoyed With Pinoys in Singapore"

Issue: Claims that Filipino managers favour subordinates from their country

NOV 24, 2013: "Dear TRS, I Sacked 6 Pinoy Nationals and 1 Indian National On Friday"

Issue: Asserts that a Filipino and Indian national working in a firm colluded to hire their compatriots

MAY 22, 2014: "Why Does the Govt Allow PRC Stripper To Come Here Work And Steal My Husband!"

Issue: Claims women from China come here to find Singaporean men

FEB 18, 2014: "Dear TRS, PRC Woman Makes Boy Pee Publicly In The MRT Into A Bottle"

Issue: Falsely alleges that a woman from China got her grandchild to pee into a bottle

OCT 13, 2013: "Exposed: Puppy Murderer Works In Healthcare Industry, Her Company Hires Mostly Foreigners"

Issue: Claims a firm "hires more foreigners than locals". An Editor's Note, saying TRS wants to instil fear in firms which hire foreigners at Singaporeans' expense, was falsely attributed to "Farhan" when it was written by Ai Takagi.

SPH sues TRS couple for copyright infringement
It alleges website used its papers' content without permission
By Elena Chong And Tham Yuen-c, The Straits Times, 19 May 2015

SINGAPORE Press Holdings (SPH) has brought a copyright infringement suit against the duo behind The Real Singapore (TRS) socio-political website.

The Singapore-listed media group alleged that content from its newspapers had been reproduced on the website without permission between January 2011 and April this year.

A writ of summons and statement of claim were filed in the High Court on May 7 and the papers served on Yang Kaiheng, 26, and Ai Takagi, 22, yesterday.

They were served by a clerk from WongPartnership, representing SPH, as they walked to the State Courts in Havelock Square for a pre-trial conference for a separate sedition case.

Yang, a Singaporean, and Takagi, his Australian fiancee, have been identified as being editors, developers, operators, moderators and administrators of TRS.

In its statement of claim, SPH cited at least 191 articles from its stable of newspapers that were substantially reproduced, without licence or authorisation, in the form of 177 articles on TRS.

The SPH articles included crime and political stories as well as commentaries, and first ran in The Straits Times, The Business Times, The New Paper and My Paper.

The media company said in court papers that Yang and Takagi had "systematically and consistently" used these articles for content on TRS, and received financial benefit from doing so.

Twice this year - on March 18 and April 2 - SPH sent letters to Yang and Takagi, notifying them of the copyright infringement.

The "TRS Editorial Team" replied to the first letter via e-mail the same day, acknowledging their articles contained "copyright-infringing contents... uploaded by those who have writer accounts". It said the articles "have now been removed". It did not reply to SPH's second letter.

But SPH contends in its claim that some articles remained accessible on the website until early this month, when TRS was ordered to shut down by the Media Development Authority (MDA) for publishing articles deemed "objectionable on the grounds of public interest, public order and national harmony".

SPH is asking the court to declare TRS infringed its copyright. It wants an injunction to stop TRS from continuing to do so; and damages or, alternatively, an account of profits that TRS made through the articles and the payment of the amount to SPH.

TRS was taken down by its editors on May 3, after the MDA suspended the licence of Yang and Takagi to operate the site.

The media regulator said they deliberately made up articles to incite anti-foreigner sentiment and undermine national harmony here, to drive traffic to the site and raise advertising dollars.

The couple have made representations to the MDA on the matter, and are awaiting a review that will determine if their licence will be revoked.

Yang and Takagi were charged with seven counts of sedition for articles published between October 2013 and February this year that allegedly promoted ill-will and hostility between different races or classes here. They face another charge of failing to produce documents, such as financial statements, to investigators.

Earlier this month, Yang was allowed to visit his critically ill father in Brisbane, Australia. He returned a week ago. His father is also back and hospitalised here.

The couple's lawyer, Mr Choo Zheng Xi, said yesterday that he will be making representations to the Attorney-General's Chambers on the criminal case. The next pre-trial conference for the case is on July 1.

* TRS apologises to SPH for infringing copyright of 244 of its news articles
The Straits Times, 14 Jan 2016

The developer and editor of now-defunct socio-political website, The Real Singapore (TRS), Ai Takagi, has unreservedly apologised to Singapore Press Holdings (SPH).

This was part of an out-of-court settlement of a copyright infringement suit reached by SPH and the duo behind TRS, SPH said yesterday.

In the suit filed last May against Takagi, 22, an Australian, and Singaporean Yang Kaiheng, 27, SPH said 244 of its news articles had been reproduced or substantially reproduced on TRS without permission.

The settlement includes the publication of an apology by Ms Takagi in today's ST print edition.
Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The settlement, reached on confidential terms, includes payment of an undisclosed sum to SPH and the publication of an apology by Takagi.

The Straits Times understands Yang denies any involvement with the site beyond setting it up in 2012.

In the apology, on Page B3 of yesterday's print edition of ST, Takagi acknowledged being TRS' developer, operator, editor, moderator, administrator and/or manager, and admitted content - a "few hundred" articles published between Feb 2, 2008 and March 29 last year - belonging to SPH was reproduced and/or substantially reproduced on TRS, without SPH's approval.

Acknowledging the significant investment made by SPH in assembling and maintaining its team of journalists and editorial staff, she said she recognised that copyright infringement attracts severe criminal penalties and also civil remedies. She said: "I undertake not to repeat such acts of infringement and hereby unreservedly apologise to SPH."

The Real Singapore shut down on MDA's orders
The 3 uni students behind TRS website bragged to families about income they received from online venture

TRS sedition trial:
The Real Singapore 'made $500k from ads in 17 months'
TRS editor Ai Takagi sentenced to 10 months' jail for sedition

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