Ai Takagi, 22, a Brisbane law student and one of the two errorists charged with sedition for their involvement with The Real Singapore website, has turned to Australian radio to publicly comment on the trial even as the case is before the courts.
It appears that the 15-minute conversation was recorded on April 16, 2015, after the duo were formally charged in court two days earlier for allegedly promoting “ill will and hostility between different classes of the Singapore population”.
In the radio segment, Ai paints herself and her fellow errorist as victims of Singapore's repressive laws that curb free speech, while not acknowledging their role in perpetuating falsehoods with reports on the TRS website.
Speaking to a completely credulous Australian radio deejay, the recording starts at the 2min 40sec mark, where you would hear Ai start off speaking Singlish before putting on a faux accent.
Here are the more important parts:
4min 30sec: On responsibility
DJ: "So was it your website that originally misreported?"
A: "No, there was some comments online about it but they turned out to be false comments."
DJ: "So your website simply reported that these were what happened and false comments made and this was what led to the misunderstanding?"
A: "So it wasn't sure initially it wasn't sure what comments were false but that was actually a running story that was completed and updated and so we carried the false information."
7min 24sec: Points finger at Singapore Press Holdings
DJ: "So there's a range of articles on this website The Real Singapore that have caught their eye, is it unusual to have a citizen journalist website or crowdsourced website writing specifically about some everyday matters about Singapore? Or is that not usual for Singapore?"
A: "Well that's not true. There's actually quite a few websites that do that. There's also one website which does that specifically and it's actually owned by SPH, which is Singapore's largest news corporation, which is like linked to the the government, kind of."
8min 27sec: Openly discusses sedition charge
DJ: "Were you surprised to be charged with sedition?"
A: "Mmm no not particularly, because they have been investigating that since February. We were told from the very start this is what they've been investigating."
10min 23sec: Explains TRS strict editorial policy of Ctrl C and Ctrl V
DJ: "Are you the publisher or someone else the publisher? What's your position with the website?"
A: "I am one of the content creators on the website and there are actually several others. Basically our job is to find interesting things to write about and also to share, because people will send in their complaints and opinions. And so the job is to edit those and make sure they're okay and then publish them."
DJ: "So you do have an editing or editorial process for the website The Real Singapore?"
DJ "How do you feel about free speech in Singapore? Is it difficult doing a website like this?"
A: "So yeah, it is very difficult in general, as Singapore is not as free as it is in Australia, for example. It's very stifled in terms of how the media environment is in Singapore. So, the mainstream media itself is heavily censored by the government and you won't find dissenting voices and everything is all looks very happy in the mainstream media. So that's one of the main reasons why the website like The Real Singapore exist, because people feel that their voices is not actually being heard, which is why so many people are willing to send their opinions and complaints in because there isn't the space in the mainstream media."
13min 00sec: Explains away own editorial failings
DJ: "Were you surprised that you as someone who's studying law, working as a journalist, editing parts of stories on a website to find yourself charged with sedition in Singapore?"
A: "Not particularly, erm, because this is actually a law that is recognised to be used for stifling dissent. It has been used in the past. I, and everyone else involved in the website, have always known there is a risk doing what we do."
13min 50sec: Explains how TRS is not a real news operation
DJ: "Does the website actually employ people?"
A: "No, not formally."