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December 6, 2008 Saturday
Dec 6, 2008
'No ill will intended'
By Elena Chong
'It was never with the intention of hurting or ill will...We had no idea that the distribution of these tracts were considered seditious. We never had the intention of breaking any laws of the land,'' she wrote. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
A SINGAPOREAN couple accused of distributing anti-Islamic comic books admitted to police that they sent out the publications and apologised profusely, a court heard yesterday.

The pair, who were attending the Berean Christian Church at the time of the alleged offences, said in statements to investigators earlier this year that they only wanted to spread Christianity.

Ong Kian Cheong, 49, and his 45-year-old wife, Dorothy Chan Hien Leng, are currently on trial for sedition. They have both claimed trial.

They are accused of distributing comic tracts - titled The Little Bride and Who Is Allah? - which prosecutors say promote feelings of ill will and hostility between Christians and Muslims.

Distributing a seditious publication can attract a $5,000 fine and up to three years' in jail.

Prosecutors say the publications went out to three people between March and December last year. One of the recipients was a Traffic Police staff sergeant, who filed a complaint.

Yesterday, Station Inspector Peter Koh Meng Kee told the court that he recorded statements from the couple after their arrests on Jan 30.

In the statement, Ong, a technical officer with SingTel, pleaded for leniency and said he would not do such a thing again. He also apologised for hurting those concerned and sought their forgiveness.

Under cross-examination by the couple's lawyer, Mr Selva K. Naidu, Station Insp Koh read out later statements from the couple.

On April 14, in response to two of the charges, Ong wrote that he did not know there was offensive content in the publications, and that he had no intention of hurting anyone. My intention is to spread Christianity,' he said.

Chan, an associate director with UBS, said in her statements that she did not read The Little Bride and was not aware of its contents. 'Neither of us has intention of hurting anyone with the tracts sent out. It was meant that the gospel of God is preached to all. It was meant with good intentions.'

The couple had claimed trial on charges of distributing the seditious and objectionable publications. They are also accused of having seditious publications at their Maplewoods Condominium apartment in Bukit Timah Road on Jan 30.

On the first day of the trial on Thursday, Mr Irwan Ariffin, 32, and Mr Isa Raffee, 35, testified that they were angry and felt offended after reading the booklets, which had been posted to them.

A third person, Madam Farharti Ahmad, 36, who received The Little Bride in her mail, has yet to testify.

Ong is a SingTel technical officer and his wife is an associate director with UBS.

Both The Little Bride and Who Is Allah? are published by a Protestant organisation in the United States.

The trial will is scheduled to resume on Jan 28.


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