In Singapore speaking your mind can get you jailed, meaning 16-year-old blogger Amos Yee can consider himself lucky to face the prospect of mere probation after a court found him guilty Tuesday of insulting Christians and distributing an obscene image of the country's founding father.
The YouTube personality and former child actor faced the possibility of three years in jail but was instead released on bail pending court officials interviewing him and his parents to determine whether a form of probation will suffice. He will be sentenced later.
On March 23 Yee posted an expletive-strewn video blog as the city state was mourning Lee Kuan Yew's death. In the post he claimed that Lee and Jesus Christ were "both power-hungry and malicious." Yee went on to criticise Singapore's former leader throughout the eight-minute clip.
Later, he posted an obscene cartoon featuring the faces of Lee and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher pasted on to an image of two people engaged in sexual intercourse.
In Singapore, deference is a cultural norm and self-censorship is expected and commonplace.
Tessa Wong of BBC News in Singapore was on hand for Yee's sentencing.
"Neither he nor his parents showed any emotion on their faces when the guilty verdict was announced," Wong said. "Amos has fascinated and infuriated Singaporeans ever since he was arrested for his video, and to many he is seen as the boy who dared to insult Lee Kuan Yew."
In his defence, Yee claimed that he had not intended to insult Christians but District Judge Jasvender Kaur did not accept the argument, saying prosecutors proved the teenager had intended to denigrate both Lee and Jesus Christ.
She added that Yee "plainly has a lot of growing up to do".
The verdict also calls on Yee to remove the two posts.