Filipino jailed four months for seditious posts, lying
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.
Ed Mundsel Bello Ello, 29, was an assistant nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital when he posted on the The Real Singapore's Facebook page on Jan 2 this year that Singaporeans were losers, Filipinos were better and stronger than Singaporeans and FiIipinos would evict Singaporeans as well as take over their jobs, women and future.
In another post that evening, he had affirmed that Filipinos would evict Singaporeans and that Singapore would be a new Philippine state.
Many aggrieved Singaporeans, who were offended by his comments, filed 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 2014.
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 were made by someone else.
District Judge Siva Shanmugam said in his oral remarks that Ello's comments were extremely provocative and that Ello had intended for his comments to be so.
He had two Facebook accounts - one under the name Edz Ello and another under an alias, Lee Andrew Hng.
Ello, who had exploited the anonymity provided by his Edz Ello Facebook account, would have known that he would be enraging a large number of people. Indeed, there were more than 600 replies to his comments.
The judge said Ello's inflammatory comments had the potential to harm relations between Singaporeans and Filipinos in Singapore, and might already have affected many in the community adversely.
"The accused's provocative conduct, if left unchecked, could possibly result in discrimination against the innocent and law abiding minority Filipino residents in Singapore," he said.
"It is therefore imperative for this court to send a clear and unequivocal signal that such offence, if made out, will be met with the full brunt of the law in the form of a deterrent sentence," he added.
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.
Ello could have been fined up to $5,000 and jailed for up to three years under the Sedition Act. For giving false information to the police, he could have been jailed for up to one year and fined up to $5,000 for each charge.