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Free Amos? Overstepping the Boundaries of Team Singapore

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 16:50 authored by Sandra Hudd

The 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence was a significant moment for Singaporeans to reflect on the achievements of their young nation, encouraging and generating a surge of nationalist sentiment. In looking back to the “Pioneer Generation”, however, anxieties about whether Singaporean youth today were strong enough to “pick up the baton” and ensure the ongoing survival of the nation were also revisited. The death of Lee Kuan Yew in March 2015 was a symbol of this liminal point between past struggles to survive and a future without his leadership.

Throughout its history, Singapore’s national narrative of transformation “from third world to first” has been accompanied by strong state controls on the media and on opinions and behaviour considered disruptive to social harmony. Just four days after Lee’s death, 16-year-old Amos Yee uploaded a video on YouTube – ‘Lee Kuan Yew is finally dead!’ – drawing attention to these tensions and doing so during the ill-considered time of national mourning. Yee was jubilant that LKY had died, and his video included insults to Jesus, Lee and Margaret Thatcher. The reaction to the teenager’s subsequent arrest, court appearances and remand in detention highlights the risks in violating the set limits on socially acceptable subjects and views. This paper explores these issues of youthful protest within the complicated nationalism of an affluent but controlled society.


Publication title

Journal of Applied Youth Studies




School of Humanities


Centre for Applied Youth Research Inc.

Place of publication

Hobart, Tasmania

Rights statement

© Copyright - Centre for Applied Youth Research Inc.

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture

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