TL;DR – NS and attention are probably why Amos Yee fled to USA…
Amos Yee, the enfant terrible, that pesky, irritating boy with an over-inflated ego, is in the news again. Not too long ago, he was interviewed by The News Lens, an independent bilingual website based in Taiwan and Hong Kong which offers news from around the globe. In that interview, he appeared to have mellowed, admitting that his antics “was bringing activism a few steps back.” But before you applaud him for having matured, consider what just happened last week.
Amos Yee was detained in USA while attempting to seek political asylum there. He landed in Chicago’s O’Hare airport on 16 Dec with a tourist visa. But on “secondary screening”, Amos told border control officers that he was seeking asylum.
Why would Amos need political asylum in USA? For that matter why does Amos desperately think he needs to flee from Singapore?
I can think of three possible reasons.
1. He’s being harassed and abused in Singapore
There are people who believe that Amos is suffering from a sustained pattern of harassment and abuse because of his political views. These people think that the government is out to get him because of what he said about Mr Lee Kuan Yew. They think that the Singapore government can’t stand Amos because he had the audacity to speak up and out against the government. And that the government somehow is scheming of many more ways and means to make life miserable for Amos.
Is that even possible? Amos may be pesky. He may have said some really irritating things. But in the grander scheme of things, he’s really a nobody. If the government really wants to make life miserable for anyone because of their political views, there are so many other candidates who are way more “qualified” and “deserving” of the government’s attention. Like… I don’t know… The Workers’ Party MPs? Or perhaps even Chee Soon Juan.
But even for those people, do they mysteriously end up injured or get quietly dragged away in the dead of the night?
Mr Low Thia Khiang of the Workers’ Party has been a greater thorn in the sides of the PAP for many decades. He’s still very much alive and well. He does criticise the PAP of tilting the playing field in their favour, but I don’t think he has ever feared for his personal safety because he dared to speak up and out against the government.
So, while Amos may think that he needs political asylum because he fears he’ll be abused and harassed, we think that’s highly unlikely to happen to him. But he may be harassed and abused by other people in another context. Which brings us to the second reason he felt he needed to flee from Singapore.
2. To escape NS
Amos is a smart aleck. He thinks he’s smarter than other people. And he has no qualms about letting other people know that he looks down on them. He doesn’t know when to shut up. Just go watch his videos and read his posts. While some people aim to please, Amos appears to make it his life goal to piss.
Can you imagine him in NS? Do you think he’ll be able to follow orders? Or will he more likely end up offending and talking back to his superiors? With his attitude, can you imagine the extras he’ll have to sign?
Maybe Amos thinks he knows of the fate that awaits him in NS. Maybe he knows that he just can’t survive the regimentation of NS. Maybe he knows that he won’t be able to stop himself from saying stupid things to his superiors that would land him in hot water. Perhaps that’s why he felt that the best option for him is to run away so that he doesn’t have to do NS. That’s a more believable reason.
But in my opinion, the most likely reason Amos is seeking asylum in USA is because…
3. He wants attention
Yes, it’s likely that Amos is really scared. But not because there are men in black hiding in the shadows plotting to do him harm. I think it’s more likely that Amos is scared that people have forgotten about him. He is scared that he’s not getting the attention he so craves. And he knows that people are getting tired of his rants about race and religion. Even his ravings against the Singapore government are becoming trite and not getting him the attention he craves.
And Amos isn’t dumb. in fact, he knows more than just a thing or two on effective showmanship. So he knows he needs to come up with something new if he were to continue getting the attention he wants. And hence this. It’s definitely something new. A Singaporean getting detained in USA for trying to get political asylum. Or better yet, a Singaporean who has successfully gotten political asylum in USA. That’s something you don’t see everyday. And anything that is as novel as this will make the news. And indeed it has. That’s pretty smart of him.
Will he be successfully granted political asylum? I’m not sure. Was he successful in grabbing attention? Yes. I think he was.
What did his mother say?
Other than a rather cryptic note on both her Facebook page and profile that only confirmed Amos’ detention and nothing else, Amos’ mother, Mary Toh, had apparently shared her concerns with a human rights(?) activist.
Speaking to Mary on Friday night, she told me of her concerns that her son’s desire to continue expressing himself would land him repeatedly in trouble.
“That is my fear, that he will be in and out of jail forever,” she said. “I felt like many more bad things will happen if he continues to stay [in Singapore].”
What will happen to him next?
It’s anybody’s guess if the US will approve his application for political asylum. If not approved, he might be sent back to Singapore. And then we’ll just have to wait and see what other antics he’ll come up with. Whatever the case is, this Amos Yee is indeed quite entertaining.
In the meantime, he’s in detention over the Christmas holidays and the activist helping him plot this plan has said that he has asked for books:
According to this Telegraph article, here’s how it works:
“His US lawyer Sandra Grossman told the South China Morning Post on Saturday that Mr Yee was likely detained at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport because he entered the country on a tourist visa despite an intention to apply for asylum.
She said Mr Yee would have to undergo a “credible fear interview” by an asylum official who would assess if he faces a credible fear of persecution or torture back home. She said the process usually takes a few days, but a holiday season could delay it.”