On the topic of infamous lecturers in Singapore, some of us might remember the ex-Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) senior lecturer who made news after his racist remarks towards an interracial couple last June.
On 6 June 2021, Tan Boon Lee was caught on camera when he launched into a verbal attack on an interracial couple at Orchard Road.
After the video of him spewing racist remarks at the couple was posted online, it went viral across social media and Tan ended up being fired by NP.
And if you can’t remember what exactly he told the couple, he told the lady that she was “disgracing” him and told the man that he was “preying” on his girlfriend and that he should “marry somebody Indian”, simply because of the difference between their skin tone.
Needless to say, that was uncalled for in every way possible.
Tan, now 61, was charged today (17 May) for his actions.
But what you may not know is that he will not only be charged for his interracial remarks towards the couple, because there are, well… other things he did.
Tan Faced With Four Charges in Total
According to a police statement, he had a racist outburst towards a 26-year-old man near Angullia Park on 5 June last year.
Apart from that, during his lecturing stint at NP, he apparently passed insensitive remarks pertaining to religion during a lecture at NP on 28 July 2017.
He had apparently said in class to his students, “What type of father tells you to worship him five times a day and threatens to send you to hell if you don’t?”
He also posted answers that were religiously insensitive to questions that were asked on Quora, an online forum, from 10 August to 13 September 2020.
When replying to a question regarding “people being overcome by the Holy Spirit”, Tan had apparently wrote that “people under the influence of drugs or epilepsy have the exact same experience”.
His acts while holding the position of a senior lecturer in NP were revealed after students went onto social media sites to disclose the various experiences that they had while being students in his classes.
And there’s more.
He was also charged for the possession of 64 obscene films on 12 June last year, bringing the total number of charges he will be facing to four.
If Tan is convicted of uttering words with the deliberate intention of wounding the racial feelings of a person, he faces a jail term of up to three years, a fine, or both.
If he is found guilty of committing an act that is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious groups, he faces up to three years’ imprisonment, a fine, or both.
Additionally, for possessing obscene films, he may also face up to 12 months in jail, a maximum fine of $40,000, or both.
With regards to Tan’s case, the police emphasised in their statement yesterday (16 May) that they view acts that may disrupt racial harmony in Singapore with great seriousness.
“Any person who makes remarks or acts in a manner which causes ill will and hostility between the different races or religious groups in Singapore will be dealt with swiftly and in accordance with the law,” they added.
Today (17 May) in court, the prosecution sought an adjournment of three weeks. The prosecution also said that a plea offer was pending and that no more charges were expected.
Tan, who is represented by defence lawyer Johannes Hadi, was offered bail of $5,000.
He will return to court for a pre-trial conference sometime next month.
Formal Apology to Interracial Couple
On 9 July 2021, around a month after the now-viral incident where Tan, then 60, attacked an interracial couple with racist remarks, Tan issued an apology.
The apology was issued in a letter on 9 July by his lawyers from Eugene Thuraisingam LLP, where he admitted to his “unacceptable” mistakes and expressed his remorse.
He also explained that his behaviour was “out of character”, and that it was possibly triggered by his struggles at that time. He mentioned that he was coping with a “personal matter” which had resulted in a lot of grief and pain for him.
“Nevertheless, my personal problems are no excuse for my actions,” he wrote.
“I realise now that although I spoke from a place of deep personal pain, my words were bigoted, discriminatory, and insensitive.”
He also noted in the letter that he had apologised to the couple in the video, Mr Dave Parkash and his girlfriend, Ms Jacqueline Ho. He also apologised to their respective families as well.
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“I now wish to apologise to those in the wider Singaporean community whom I have hurt and offended with my words,” he added.
Apart from that, he also highlighted that the incident made him “dig deep” and
He added that the incident has prompted him to “dig deep” and think about his own actions and the motives behind them.
“I recognise my shortcomings and wish to learn from this incident,” Tan mentioned.
He also emphasised that he will improve himself by working on his flaws so as to make sure that he will not carry out actions of similar nature again in the future.
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