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Man under investigation for posting racist remarks as ‘Heather Chua’

SINGAPORE — “She” became notorious on the Internet for making derogatory comments on Facebook, taking aim at people living in Housing and Development Board flats, Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates and those of different races, among others.

Man under investigation for posting racist remarks as ‘Heather Chua’

Screenshot of the 'Heather Chua' Facebook page.

SINGAPORE — “She” became notorious on the Internet for making derogatory comments on Facebook, taking aim at people living in Housing and Development Board flats, Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates and those of different races, among others.

Yesterday, “Heather Chua” was revealed to be a work of fiction, and a 22-year-old man is now under investigation for allegedly making racially insensitive remarks under the moniker on Facebook.

According to a police statement issued yesterday, a report was lodged by a member of the public on the remarks posted by “Heather Chua” on a Facebook account under the same name on Jan 3 — the first of several reports made by those who came across the comments online.

On the Facebook page — which has since been deactivated — “Heather Chua” claimed to be a Singaporean woman, aged 41, who studied at the National University of Singapore, Raffles Girls’ School, Temasek Junior College and Xinmin Primary School.

In one post, she derided a former classmate for marrying an ITE graduate, creating a online brouhaha that was subsequently picked up on citizen journalism website STOMP. She also made offensive remarks about Malays and Indians.

Upon investigation, the police managed to establish the identity of the man believed to have posed as “Heather Chua” to make the racially insensitive remarks. He is currently assisting with investigations, the police said.

The police said spreading racially or religiously offensive material may be seen as inciting enmity between the races or religions. Anyone found guilty of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to three years, or with a fine, or both.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said members of the public had written to him about “Heather Chua”. “The Internet allows us to share information and connect easily with one another. We should harness this powerful tool positively and responsibly,” he said. “Let’s remember to be mindful of our words and to respect one another. We must uphold our racial harmony and social cohesion.”

Last year, several ministers had warned against misinformation on the Internet, with Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen cautioning in August that DRUMS (Distortions, Rumours, Untruths, Misinformation and Smears) on the Internet can spread far and wide, weakening the country’s resolve and causing disunity.

In November, Mr Lee had expressed concern about the ugly side of new media, such as Internet trolls who hurl abuse and stir hate. “We must fight back against trolling and provide a safe, responsible online environment which promotes constructive participation,” Mr Lee, who was speaking at a forum organised by Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao as part of its 90th anniversary, said then.

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