Couple in Singapore Jailed for Distributing Comics

Ong Kian Cheong, 50, and wife Dorothy Chan Hien Leng, 46, of Singapore, have been sentenced to eight weeks in jail for distributing anti-Muslim comics. They were found guilty of “distributing seditious or objectionable publications” after they sent copies of Chick Publications‘ comic booklets to their Muslim neighbors.

Farhati Ahmad, Irwan Ariffin and Isa Raffee filed police reports after receiving by mail The Little Bride and Who is Allah? Farhati Ahmad says she received The Little Bride on March 6, 2007 and made an official complaint the same day, claiming the booklet aims to insult and confuse Muslims and perpetuate Islamaphobia.

Jack Chick has been terrorizing small children (and even adults) for four decades.


But this is the first time I’ve heard of his comics landing anyone in the clink. He has written and published hundreds of comic tracts in multiple languages to promote his particular brand of Christianity, villanizing  anyone who disagrees with his often questionable interpretation of the Bible. His hatred for Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims is barely disguised.

Most of The Little Bride is factual and documented. Perhaps most offensive to Farhati Ahmad was the labeling of Mohammed, founder of Islam, a pedophile. (Mohammed is believed by historians to have had wives younger than twelve years of age.) The other comic in question, Who is Allah?, is poorly written and portrays extremist ideas as typical of all Muslims. It depicts a historically and culturally ignorant Muslim man who is easily swayed from his Islamic beliefs by a Christian.

None could argue these publications are not offensive. But seditious? No laws were broken in their creation, and they do not incite readers to commit crimes or violate the rights of others. Ong Kian Cheong and Dorothy Chan Hien Leng are being denied freedom of speech and the right to proselytize.

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About James A Woods
Freelance Writer, Constant Learner, Family Man

7 Responses to Couple in Singapore Jailed for Distributing Comics

  1. Zaphod says:

    Why do you say they’re being denied freedom of speech and the “right” to proselytize? What makes you think these are inalienable rights? The first one happens to be an inalienable right in the United States, but it isn’t here in Singapore. Beyond that, I’m not sure anyone has a *right* to proselytize. The only thing I see is an absence of any outright prohibition against the practice.

    This country exists in a delicate, but functional balance between Chinese, Malay, Indian and Caucasian races, as well as Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists, & Free Thinkers (and a few variations on these themes). The only way to keep this kind of balance is for the government to be completely secular, and to make it clear that while you’re free to practice your religion, you are not free to incite religious or race wars. Singapore went through some devastating race riots in the early 1960s that nearly collapsed the newly formed government, incited to a degree by the Indonesian “Konfrantasi.” This was basically a Muslim terrorist group bent on the destruction of the secular government and the formation of a Muslim caliphate, and the anti-sedition laws grew out of a need to control elements of society like this that would destroy the racial and religious harmony that was necessary for survival.

    Singapore’s implementation of their laws may seem draconian to an outsider (and to be honest, in many instances they *are* draconian), but they are applied evenly. A Muslim proselytizing his or her religion by distributing hate based materials would be arrested just a quickly and punished exactly the same as this couple.

    You say that no laws were broken in the creation of these tracts. That’s technically true, but not exactly correct in the context of this case. They were created in the United States where such speech is protected, and we Americans are accustomed to tuning out drivel by idiots like Jack Chick (although given the recent hate based killings that have occurred over the last couple of weeks, I’m not so sure that everyone in the US is adult enough exercise this responsibility). But if these had been created here in Singapore, Mr. Chick would find himself jailed, so likewise, importing them into Singapore is also a violation of their law.

    This couple’s punishment is harsh, but it happened for a reason. There has been some growing intolerance by Christians in particular, and also other religions, and the government wants to show that this behaviour won’t be tolerated. I realize that Americans see things like this and get up in arms, but remember, most of the world isn’t like the US (for better and worse). It’s a typically American characteristic to apply our standards to everyone else, which is what you’ve done with this blog post. Remember, if you want others to respect your culture and points of view, you have to return the same respect.


  2. adamtree says:

    Singapore has been a member of the United Nations since 1976. As such, it’s citizens are recognized to hold certain rights by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all humans as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. It further acknowledges that disregard and contempt for human rights results in barbarous acts, but that, “the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people.”

    Articles 18 and 19 apply in the case of Ong Kian Cheong and Dorothy Chan Hien Leng.

    Article 18

    Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

    Article 19

    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    I’m glad you understand freedom of speech to be an inalienable right in the United States. Perhaps now you’ll understand it to be so in Singapore also.

    Furthermore, If you infer that I — as an outsider — find the laws of Singapore to be draconian in this case, you are in error. Draconian refers to Draco, a law-giver of ancient Greece, whose legal code was unpopular due to its severity. Draconian means unusually harsh, but doesn’t necessarily imply wrongfulness. I believe the punishment of Ong Kian Cheong and Dorothy Chan Hien Leng to be incorrect.

    Wrongful punishment, even when applied evenly across a population, is still wrongful. You point out that a Muslim proselytizing his religion would be arrested just a quickly and punished exactly the same as this couple. That may well be the case, but two wrongs do not make a right.

    Indeed, I have applied the standard of the United States’ love for liberty and sense of responsibility to this situation. That is because I know of no higher standard in our modern world. You may choose baser systems if you wish, but as for me, I will uphold value and dignity.

  3. Bernie Erickson says:

    June 30/09. I pasted this statement from above:—-
    “The only way to keep this kind of balance is for the government to be completely secular, and to make it clear that while you’re free to practice your religion, you are not free to incite religious or race wars” —
    If there is no freedom of speech in Singapore, then clearly, you have a very quiet city !!! No one dares to talk to anyone about anything because he/she may be charged with some kind of outrageous accusation/s, some kind of “sedition”, some kind of “prosletysing”, WHO knows what !!?? If people ARE free to talk to one another in your city, whether friend, relative, or ANYone, then there is NO harm in explaining to someone else why you believe what you believe. THIS is NOT “inciting a riot” as the above quote suggests. Rediculous!! Now, IF I were in Singapore and someone handed me a religious tract (Christian, Moslem, Budhist, or whatever) I can read it or throw it away- I’m FREE to do so. I most certainly would not have the outrageous reaction of taking them to court over it!!!!. And if I didn’t like the tract, or even the act of handing me one, I deserve to be told to grow up, and “You don’t have to read it !!” Sharing a faith or religious belief is NOT a criminal act – I do not care where a person is. Maybe for a religious person, freedom to “practice one’s religion”(as above) would include sharing it with someone, and there is NO reason under the sun to make that a crime !! “There is none other name (Jesus) under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”.-Acts 4:12. There, I shared that,– now come and put me in jail !!! Actually, you are FREE to accept that or reject it !! All I can do is share it, with NO idea whatsoever of “inciting a riot” !!!

  4. Bernie Erickson says:

    June 30/09 I am very disturbed by the fact that there are those who wish to smear any Christian by accusing him/her of “hate” in ANY way for simply doing as the word of (the one and only)God expects of us, namely to “.Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”- the words of Jesus after His resurrection. That is NOT “hate” but in FACT is God’s love. Those who make seditious accusations of “hate” are the ones who need to be charged, NOT the peace loving Christians ! After all, it’s the aim of Ahmadinejad- the radical jihadist who states that they will “wipe Israel off the map”, and wants to kill all the “infidels”- e.g. ALL who will not accept HIS religion.– now if THAT isn’t seditious and prosletysing, I’d like to know what is !!! Those three- Ahmad, Ariffin and Raffee should be MORE tolerant toward others. It greatly offends me that mr. Ahmadinejad and those like him want to kill me because I do not wish to become an Islamic. I think that is the ultimate “hate” !! And WHY does the U.N. give preferential protection to Islam above all other religions in their new resolution in March /09, while their article 19 of their Declaration of Human Rights states that ALL religions are to be respected equally”? — The U.N. is a global organization- NOT U.S. or any specific country. I am going to write to Jack Chick and suggest to him to greatly modify his tract-writing so as to present the Gospel in a softer manner. As a Christian, I have a desire to present God’s gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son., because time is short. Now if someone says my saying that is “seditious “, they are WRONG. Nor is it “prosletysing”, I cannot twist anyone’s arm, people are FREE to accept or reject the Gospel.
    There is no such thing as “..his particular brand of Christianity..” There is ONLY one Christianity and it is the belief in Christ for eternal life, period. NO-one is forced to accept it- though the Scripture teaches that they will regret it if they don’t. ALL are free to do so .
    Also, I do not agree with “..the right to proslytize” — In Christianity, there is NO such thing. The Christian’s duty is to simply present the Gospel. If people accept it they do, and if they don’t they don’t, period. I oppose the use of such a term. Those who choose to accept Christ do so freely. It is only a guilty conscience that psychologically makes a person attempt to free him/her self from those feelings by passing the guilt back to the one who presents truth or facts. That Christian couple have done no wrong. They have only desired to present the Christian Gospel to whomever may accept it. Why don’t those “offended” ones write to Mr. Chick and express their feelings, and suggest to him a less offensive method? His website is on the tracts.
    With sincerity and without prejudice.
    -Re-submitted. 30/06/09

  5. Bernie says:

    05/08/09 Reply to Adamtree—-
    I am a Canadian, but nevermind, we also have freedom of speech, though like in many countries – espec. in Europe,- “thanks” to Islam, it is on the endangered list !!! In Maine, U.S.A., a man was charged for some kind of “inflamatory anti-muslim message..” (Most likely very minor, as in the case against your Chrn. couple, e.g. hypersensitive 3 muslims who could easily say to them “I’m not interested.”). We do NOT see any charges against anyone for inflamatory anti-Christian messages !!!- and that opposes U.N. charter article 19 !! I can agree that Mr. Chick gets quite carried away in his illustrations – almost silly, but NOT seditious !!!

  6. Bernie says:

    5 Aug./09 Please allow me to comment on this quote from above:-
    “…multiple languages to promote his particular brand*1. of Christianity, villanizing-2. anyone who disagrees with his often questionable interpretation of the Bible.3. His hatred-4. for Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims is barely disguised.”
    1.-“brand” is a misnomer as it would be if used in reference to any other religion. There is only ONE “kind” of Christianity, and it is what Christ, the only Son of the Only God, taught. There is only ONE kind of Christian, it is one who follows the teachings of Christ, or “lives in” Christ as a Canadian is one who lives in Canada, or a USian is one who lives in the U.S.
    2. No, sorry – he is not trying to “villainize” anyone -he(Chick) just goes overboard in his graphics ! Instead of trying to make a Federal case out of it, WHY doesn’t someone (maybe one who objects to his extreme graphics)simply write to Chick and urge him to lighten up in his presentations??
    3. Chick quotes a lot of references , all of which are self-explanatory. 2Tim.3:16 states that “..all scripture is given by inspiration of God..” so differences come from individual interpretations, in spite of the fact that the truth remains invariable.
    4. No sir, I strongly disagree. Chick, or ANY evangelical pastor, preacher, writer or Christian does NOT “hate” anyone. The Bible clearly describes and teaches that hate is very sinful, and none of these will hate anyone, but merely try to explain how some things are contrary to God’s word. e.g. most religions ( which are a man-made belief system as opposed to Scriptural teaching – which is a God-made “religion”) have a lot of images, idols, icons, trinkets, etc. Note Exodus 20:3-5. It is NOT “hatred” to teach what God’s word says. Adam and Eve chose to listen to the serpent (satan) and disobey God, and as a result they lost their eternal life and passed that “sin-nature” to all mankind (Romans 5:12). So how do we individually restore that eternal life?–Acts 16:31.
    No Christian – if he/she IS a Christians, will hate anyone, period. 1John 3:15. We seek life, not death and hope to help others find the same. Rom.6:23.
    Well, enough ! I could go on !! Suffice it to say that prophecies are being fulfilled before our eyes- in several things, so we must be ready for the Lord’s soon return.
    Take care. Thanks again. I will restrain.

    • adamtree says:

      Thank you for your continued interest in this post. I’m glad to see it evokes such a response.

      To be clear, I use the word brand in the sense of “a characteristic or distinctive kind.” It’s not the most popular use of the word, but it is a valid one according to Webster’s.

      To say there is only one kind of Christianity doesn’t reflect our reality. There are many brands, or distinctive kinds, of Christianity in the world. Do they all teach the same thing Jesus did? Do they all follow the the Bible as it is written? No, absolutely not. Yet, they all go by the name Christian.

      To the best of my knowledge, Chick Publications does not teach the correct, Biblical way to deal with the issue of sin — which is found quite clearly expressed in Acts 2:38-39. The passage of which Acts 16:31 (your citation) is a part is solidly based upon the Apostles’ doctrine presented in the second chapter.

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