Amos Yee, Singapore’s Teen Dissident, Is Back With a Crude, Hilarious Video

Fresh out of prison, the 16-year-old is back with another attack on his country's rulers.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 4crop

The moptopped Singaporean blogger Amos Yee is out of prison after having served 53 days in jail for posting a video criticizing the late Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew. And if Singaporean authorities thought a prison term might quiet the precocious teen, they were sorely mistaken: Yee is out with a new, obscene, and often hilarious video answering his critics and attacking Singapore’s lack of civil liberties.

Yee’s video follows up on the one that got him thrown in jail in the first place. The first attacked Yew as an autocrat and criticized Singaporeans for venerating him as a singularly talented and unique leader. His latest English-language video responds to the criticism that Yee had failed to show the dead leader sufficient respect. “You didn’t say the same thing when it was Osama bin Laden,” Yee says in the video. “And in many respects, you could argue that Lee Kuan Yew was worse. At least it was obvious to the public that bin Laden was a bad person.”

Responding to the line of attack that he has become such a phenomenon merely because he is 16 years old, Yee responds: “I’m an intellectual. I’m interesting. I have opinions. Talk to me. I’ll share some.” One offered as a vague example: “I feel like Marx, and I have similar views on utopia only with significantly different approaches.”

Many of the arguments he offers up in the video are stated about as crudely as they could be, and prison certainly hasn’t claimed his youthful bombast. “I’m one of the few artists in the world that isn’t a fucking sellout,” he says.

Earlier in his career as a video blogger, Yee was mockingly described as a little Buddha because of his closely cropped hair. Now, he’s criticized for his long, unruly hair. “It is interesting to me how I managed to drastically change the public perception of my public appearance,” Yee says in the video. “I’m like Miley Cyrus, the only difference being I don’t suck.”

As for whether he is too obscene, Yee is unrepentant. “In our modern context of YouTube and South Park, it’s very embarrassing if you’re anti-Urban Dictionary,” he says. “So, yes, the vulgar language stays, you judgmental cunts.”

As for whether he has consciously sought attention: “If I hold a press conference, literally reporters from all over the world are going to come. But I don’t want to do that. I’m not in the mood. If it’s that and hentai, I’m choosing the Japanese octopus.”

Yee notes that the legal charges brought against him focused on the claim that he spread religious division and not for his attack on Yew, Singapore’s deceased founder, something the blogger laments. “I feel like Einstein when he won the Nobel Prize for the photoelectric effect instead of the general theory of relativity,” Yee says in the video.

The video ends with an assessment by Yee of his own case: “The story of the Lee Kuan Yew video and Amos Yee will be written in the anals [sic] of Singapore history and has quite effectively revealed Singapore’s failure as a democratic society, both to its citizens and the international community. All that from a video taken by a boy in his room, with a camera, in his pajamas.” And, yes, Yee pronounces the word as “anals,” not “annals.”

The full video is available here:

Photo credit: YouTube/Amos Yee

Correction, August 7, 2015: Singaporean blogger Amos Yee is 16 years old. A previous version of this article said his age was 17.

Elias Groll is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @EliasGroll

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