You might have seen the videos of Amos Yee being attacked by an unknown “Ah Beng” and “Ah Lian” couple at Jurong Point mall.
In one of the earliest videos of the incident uploaded by Yee himself on May 28, Yee films himself confronting his would-be attacker in a shop. Yee was heard shouting in the video, “You took a picture of me, didn’t you?” His shouting seems to have irritated the aggressor, who is seen walking towards Yee’s direction before the video gets cut off. It is not certain if Yee was the cause of his own attack, or if the man had behaved aggressively towards Amos Yee before this.
In a later video uploaded by YouTuber Jhan DABOMB, a burly Chinese man could be seen bear hugging Amos Yee from behind as the frightened boy begged for help from an apathetic crowd, who seemed more interested in observing and filming the incident. Yee is seen struggling helplessly as both struggle from one end of the mall corridoor to the other. A Caucasian bystander intervenes, although the video does not capture what he says, but he too gives up when refuted by the aggressor and leaves Amos to his fate.
To date, no one is certain why the attack took place. Or what transpired between Amos Yee and the couple before the video incident.
While this is not the first time the rebellious young blogger has been attacked in public (remember this infamous slap?), netizens have rightly expressed unhappiness at the callousness displayed by the crowd. Pariah or not, shouldn’t more people have stepped forward to help the young teenager? Do his online transgressions negate his right to travel uninhibited and unharmed throughout Singapore, particularly in Singapore where the rule of law and right to safety are valued above all else?
Not unexpectedly, given Amos Yee’s notoriety, some netizens have supported the Chinese man’s actions. There are people who feel Amos Yee needs to be taught a lesson, and it would be foolish to deny that he has stepped on too many toes.
Yet the question remains, what kind of society would we devolve into if we cannot even guarantee the safety of a teenage boy when he is assaulted by a much larger assailant in full view of the public?
Joel Koh is an aspiring part time writer and journalist with a day job.