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Former Ngee Ann Poly lecturer pleads guilty to making racist remarks, possessing obscene films

SINGAPORE —  A former Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer, who was seen in a viral video last year confronting an inter-ethnic couple and making racist remarks to them, pleaded guilty on Thursday (Nov 17) to making racist remarks and possessing obscene films. 

Former polytechnic lecturer Tan Boon Lee outside the State Courts on May 17, 2022.

Former polytechnic lecturer Tan Boon Lee outside the State Courts on May 17, 2022.

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  • A former Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer pleaded guilty to making racist remarks and possessing obscene films 
  • He was captured in a viral video confronting an inter-ethnic couple and making racist remarks at them
  • He will return to court on Dec 29 for sentencing 

SINGAPORE —  A former Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer, who was seen in a viral video last year confronting an inter-ethnic couple and making racist remarks to them, pleaded guilty on Thursday (Nov 17) to making racist remarks and possessing obscene films. 

Tan Boon Lee, 61, appeared in court on Thursday and remained silent while his charges were read. 

Two other charges were taken into consideration at the hearing. 

Tan will return to court on Dec 29 for sentencing. 

WHAT HAPPENED 

The court heard that the incident happened on June 5 last year in the Orchard Road shopping belt.

Mr Dave Parkash, a 26-year-old Singaporean Sindhi, and Ms Jacqueline Noelle Llewelyn Ho, a 27-year-old Singaporean Chinese, were walking towards a car park along Orchard Boulevard. 

When they crossed paths with Tan, he said, "such a disgrace, Indian man with a Chinese girl". 

He also accused Mr Parkash of preying on the girlfriend, who is Chinese.  

When Mr Parkash asked Tan if he had used the word "prey" to describe Indians, Tan responded: "Ya, prey, prey, prey. It's predatory." 

Court documents stated that Tan admitted to making these remarks because he felt that interracial relationships were "taboo" and "predatory".

A day after the exchange, a video of the confrontation between Tan and the couple was then published on Facebook by Mr Parkash, who wrote: "I feel embarrassed, humiliated and hurt by how I was treated by another fellow Singaporean."

Less than a week later on June 12, during investigations into Tan’s offences, the police uncovered 64 obscene videos from Tan's phone.

The videos depicted unidentified women engaging in sexual intercourse and other sexual acts. They were apparently filmed with their consent and Tan had obtained them from online sources or from his friends. 

‘TARGETED VENT-AND-RANT ATTACK’

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Yeow Xuan called the incident a targeted "vent and rant" attack against two unsuspecting members of the public. 

"The remarks were not just directed at Mr Parkash, but at Ms Ho, Mr Parkash's family and the entire Indian race," DPP Yeow said. 

She added: "The accused's remarks also caused great public disquiet and had an adverse impact on racial relations." 

Ms Yeow sought a sentence of at least four weeks' jail while Tan's defence lawyer, Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, sought a lower sentence of two weeks' jail. 

Mr Thuraisingam said that Tan's daughter had a relationship with someone of a different race and that "weighed on his mind" when he encountered the couple. 

Tan had objected to his daughter's interracial relationship and was saddened "because of the views that he (now) accepts he wrongly held". 

Mr Thuraisingam added: "Shortly after the incident (with Mr Parkash), he has issued two apologies — a private one to (Mr Parkash) as well as a public apology." 

The lawyer told the court that Tan also underwent therapy from June 28 last year to Feb 11 this year to address his low mood and grief over the loss of his relationship with his daughter, as well as to process his beliefs about race and religion in order to make better choices in line with his beliefs. 

"He has taken steps to become a better person. He recognises the flaws and faults in him, which exist in all of us," Mr Thuraisingam said. 

For uttering of words with the deliberate intention of wounding the racial feelings of a person, Tan could be jailed for up to three years or fined, or both. 

Possessing obscene films carries a punishment of up to 12 months jail or a fine of up to S$40,000, or both.

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racist Ngee Ann Polytechnic crime court

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