Former The Real Singapore (TRS) editor, Australian Ai Takagi, was sentenced to 10 months' jail on Wednesday (Mar 23) for publishing doctored and “patently false” material on the now-defunct socio-political blog.
Earlier, prosecutors had urged the court to impose a 14-month jail term on Takagi, who pleaded guilty to four counts of sedition on Mar 8.
The 23-year-old’s Singaporean husband Yang Kaiheng, 27, faces similar charges but will challenge them.
Deputy Public Prosecutor G Kannan said Wednesday that the prosecution had initially intended to seek a 12-month jail term, but increased this to 14 months after realising Takagi was “devoid of genuine remorse” for manufacturing the seditious posts for profit.
Takagi had concocted “scandalous, provocative and racy material” in a bid to increase TRS’ following and garner “enormous” advertising revenue. They had pocketed A$474,594.56 (S$492,500) from December 2013 to April 2015.
DPP Kannan said the court must “safeguard one of the most important and envied characteristics of Singapore” – racial and religious harmony. Takagi’s posts targeted foreigners from the Philippines, India and China, and aimed to fan anti-foreigner sentiments among Singaporeans, the prosecution said.
For each count of sedition, Takagi faces up to three years’ jail, a fine of S$5,000, or both.
TAKAGI PREGNANT, LAWYER REVEALS
Takagi's lawyer Choo Zheng Xi said the defence has not been "unrealistic", but is "cognisant of the seriousness of (Takagi's) actions”. He also urged the court to consider "not what she has done wrong, but what she has the potential to put right".
Takagi is pregnant and also cares for Yang's paralysed father, Mr Choo revealed, adding that she is keen to "depart the error of her ways".
The soon-to-be mother delivered a public apology in court, saying she is sincerely sorry for the harm she caused. "I was not fully aware of the level of sensitivity needed,” she said, adding that she will be "more careful with my conduct".