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The Real Singapore trial: Yang admits to lying in court

by April 8, 2016 General

Composite picture showing Yang Kaiheng and Ai Takagi (left photo) and Tin Pei Ling (right photo) — TODAY picComposite picture showing Yang Kaiheng and Ai Takagi (left photo) and Tin Pei Ling (right photo) — TODAY picSINGAPORE, April 8 — A day after testifying that he and his then-girlfriend Ai Takagi had started the Facebook page “Petition to remove Tin Pei Ling as a MP,” Yang Kaiheng admitted yesterday that he had lied on multiple occasions in court.

Yang, 27, faces seven sedition charges relating to articles published on the now-defunct sociopolitical site The Real Singapore (TRS).

The court heard that Yang and Takagi, now 23, became a couple in September 2011, a month or two after they were introduced by a friend.

During his cross-examination of Yang, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) G Kannan pointed out that the first post of the Facebook page calling for Ms Tin’s removal — which Yang earlier claimed was started by Takagi, now his wife — was made on May 7 that year, about four months before the two entered into a relationship.

Yang later admitted that he had lied about the Facebook page and about when he got together with Takagi — after Kannan said there were mobile-phone messages retrieved between the couple that were “personal and of (an) embarrassing nature.”

“I admit I am lying,” said Yang on the stand.

Kannan also questioned Yang about his police statements, in which he claimed that he did not know anything about online staffing platform Elance. For example, Yang had told the police that he did not know what Elance was. However, in court, Yang was able to cite the services offered by Elance, Kannan noted.

He added that Yang did not mention in his police statements that TRS was a business venture as this was not the position Yang wanted to maintain before the trial. Yang said he disagreed with the DPP’s assertion.

The prosecution then again played a video, which Yang made himself in 2010, in which he stated that he ran “an online news site” to enter a start-up competition. In the video, first played in court on Tuesday, Yang also said TRS was “now the top 100 site, traffic-wise” in Singapore.

Kannan noted that Yang only admitted that TRS was a business venture a day after the video was played in court. Again, Yang disagreed with the DPP’s statement.

Earlier, during questioning by his lawyer Choo Zhengxi, Yang said he had created accounts for TRS on freelancing platforms. However, Takagi took charge of the accounts, he said.

Professionals, such as web developers and web designers, addressed Takagi as “Yang” as the accounts stated his name as the user name, Yang told the court.

He testified that Takagi ran TRS as he did not have access to the website’s web-hosting, among other things.

Yang also told the court that Takagi had apologised to Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), when TRS was slapped with a copyright infringement suit last year. In the suit filed in May last year, SPH said 244 of its news articles were reproduced or substantially reproduced on TRS without permission. Apart from apologising, Takagi also paid an undisclosed sum to SPH to settle the suit.

Asked by Choo about why Yang did not issue an apology to SPH, the latter said he was not the developer or moderator of TRS. “So, I would not have to apologise,” he added.

The trial continues. — TODAY