Yang Kaiheng allegedly boasted about earning an impressive "passive income" and offered to split profits with a web developer if he could keep the The Real Singapore (TRS) website in "tip-top condition", a District Court heard on Tuesday (Mar 29).
The prosecution on Tuesday tendered several pages of Skype chat logs for the user "able_tree", a shared account used by both Yang, 27, and his Australian wife Ai Takagi, 23, Deputy Superintendent Roy Lim said.
Yang faces seven counts under the Sedition Act for seditious posts published on TRS. The anti-foreigner posts aimed to "maliciously exploit racial and xenophobic faultlines", targeting foreigners from the Philippines, India and China.
Yang has denied the charges, claiming his involvement was "fleeting", lasting just a month in 2012. The prosecution on Tuesday sought to use several Skype chats that took place from 2012 to 2014 to show able_tree's hand in the TRS website.
While both sides concede that able_tree was a shared account, the prosecution sought to prove that it was used by Yang in the management of TRS. The defence denied this, saying that Takagi was the user in chat logs tendered to the court.
In March 2013, Yang told Skype user "zlkoh87" to "help me protect our passive income". The user is allegedly Damien Koh, who started TRS with Yang and Takagi but later quit.
Yang complained TRS was "too reliant" on their Facebook page, and was worried what would happen if the page was banned. He also allegedly told Koh it took just one year to "earn a lot from TRS", boasting that he had bought a A$350,000 (S$360,200) house.
Yang also suggested to Koh that the duo set up a citizen journalism website similar to Singapore's STOMP in Australia. "You handle website, I handle marketing. It is an ugly culture, but can make money," Yang allegedly told Koh, adding that Singaporeans are "too tame".
In a chat in January 2014, Yang allegedly admitted he was a writer for TRS.
NO EVIDENCE YANG HAD AUTHORED, UPLOADED SEDITIOUS POSTS: LAWYER
Yang's lawyer Choo Zheng Xi was quick to point out that the prosecution had not tendered any "objective evidence to show Yang had (authored, uploaded or edited) the seven seditious posts". "The prosecution's case is that Yang is alleged to be involved in the operation of TRS generally," the lawyer said.
Mr Choo also sought to rebut the prosecution's assertions that Yang was behind able_tree's communications with at least two web developers.
The lawyer asked DSP Lim, the investigation officer in charge of the case, if he had found "any objective evidence to suggest that the user of able_tree ... was not Ai (Takagi)".
DSP Lim, who spent a second day on the stand, said he had spotted a different "flow of language, the English, the Singlish ... differs when able_tree communicates with different people".
"The words used at times gives me the perception that it is Yang, sometimes it is Takagi ... based on language, the Hokkien vulgarities," the DSP said, adding that "the use of Hokkien vulgarities … was very Singaporean".
Mr Choo then pointed to able_tree's admission: "(I’m) still actively writing political articles”. "Were you able to attribute a single political article on TRS to Yang?", the lawyer asked DSP Lim, who answered "no".
"But of course you were able to do so for Takagi, correct?", Mr Choo asked. “Yes,” DSP Lim said.
Takagi was sentenced to 10 months’ jail last Wednesday, after pleading guilty to four counts of sedition for authoring, uploading and editing the seven posts in question.
The trial continues.