SINGAPORE, June 23 — A 21-year-old youth was sentenced to 18 months’ probation on Thursday (June 23) for posting offensive remarks about Islam and its community, including threats of violence, on Instagram that later went viral.
Sun Sicong, a Singapore permanent resident who is originally from China, also posted screenshots of a rape victim’s recounting of her ordeal and wrote insensitive remarks.
These posts led to members of the public lodging 62 police reports against him, a court heard on Thursday.
Sun pleaded guilty last month to one charge of making remarks with deliberate intention to wound religious feelings.
Two other charges, including one that concerns Sun’s possession of pornographic material on his mobile phone, were taken into consideration for sentencing.
As part of his probation conditions, Sun has to remain indoors from 10pm to 6am and perform 60 hours of community service.
His parents posted a bond of S$5,000 (RM16,000) to ensure his good behaviour.
Probation is usually offered to young offenders between 16 and 21 years old, and the sentence does not result in a recorded criminal conviction. Sun will be able to continue with his education or employment while serving his sentence.
He was a student at Temasek Polytechnic at the time of his offences. Following an investigation by the school in June 2020 after his posts came to light, Sun was suspended for two consecutive semesters.
In response to TODAY’s queries, a spokesperson from the school on Thursday said that it will not be taking further disciplinary action against Sun.
“TP does not condone any action or behaviour that incites hatred and violence,” it said.
The court earlier heard that sometime in 2018 and 2019, Sun posted offensive comments against Islam on several Instagram Stories.
Instagram Stories are temporary posts on the social media platform that will automatically erase themselves 24 hours after being uploaded.
Sun’s Stories included statements expressing violent intentions to the Muslim community and insulting remarks over their beliefs, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Senthilkumaran Sabapathy told the court.
In one post, he also said that when he returned to China, Singapore’s “oppressive laws” would not apply to him and he would be free to mock those who “need a higher power to survive”.
Said DPP Senthilkumaran: “The accused thereby caused the (offensive posts), which among other things, involved threats of serious violence against Muslims, threats to burn the Quran and insults against Islamic teachings, to be seen by other users of Instagram, including Muslim users, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of Muslims.”
While no police reports were made at that time, screenshots of the posts resurfaced in June 2020.
At that time, Sun also uploaded an Instagram Stories post that showed a screenshot of a rape victim’s recounting of her ordeal, along with insensitive remarks by Sun over the matter.
Instagram users were upset by the post. Some posted the screenshots of Sun’s earlier religious insensitivity when responding to him, which were shared widely online later on.
As a result, the police received 62 reports from members of the public, including those who felt threatened and alarmed by Sun’s remarks.
In an earlier statement in December 2021, the police said Sun’s computer and mobile phone were seized as part of investigations.
His phone was found to contain pornographic material.
Those convicted of making remarks with deliberate intention of wounding religious or racial feelings of any person can be jailed for up to three years, fined or both. — TODAY