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Ngee Ann Poly suspends teaching staff member seen in racist video confronting inter-ethnic couple

SINGAPORE — The Chinese man who confronted an inter-ethnic couple and made racist remarks to them over the weekend has been suspended from his teaching duties at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Ngee Ann Poly suspends teaching staff member seen in racist video confronting inter-ethnic couple

A view of Ngee Ann Polytechnic (left). TODAY understands that the man in a viral video (right) who called himself a racist is Mr Tan Boon Lee, a senior lecturer at the polytechnic’s School of Engineering.

  • Ngee Ann Polytechnic has suspended a faculty member who made racist remarks to an inter-ethnic couple
  • TODAY understands that the man is Mr Tan Boon Lee, a senior lecturer at the polytechnic’s School of Engineering
  • Mr Tan told TODAY that it is a “good time” to write about "the subject of interracial marriage in Singapore, Asia or worldwide"

 

SINGAPORE — The Chinese man who confronted an inter-ethnic couple and made racist remarks to them over the weekend has been suspended from his teaching duties at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

In a reply to TODAY’s queries on Monday (June 7), the polytechnic said that it is aware of the video circulating on social media of “an individual making racist remarks against an interracial couple”.

“We regret that the individual in question is a member of our staff,” it said.

The polytechnic did not disclose the identity of the man, but TODAY understands that the man is Mr Tan Boon Lee, a senior lecturer at the polytechnic’s School of Engineering.

When contacted by a TODAY reporter, Mr Tan said via email that he did not want to comment as the case is under police investigation.

But he said that it is a “good time” to write about "the subject of interracial marriage in Singapore, Asia or worldwide". He added that "perhaps you could show some (statistics) on this topic from (a) different racial view point".

The polytechnic said that it takes a very serious view of the matter as “the remarks made by the individual are highly offensive, disrespectful and go against our staff code of conduct and values as a community”.

“We are investigating this matter internally, including considering the appropriate disciplinary action to be taken… As police investigations are ongoing, we are unable to comment further on this matter,” it said.

The Prime Minister's Office website showed a "Mr Tan Boon Lee" from Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of Engineering being awarded The Long Service Medal in 2019 under the annual National Day Awards.

The video of the confrontation between the man and the couple was first uploaded on Facebook on Sunday by Mr Dave Parkash. The police have since confirmed that a 60-year-old man is assisting with investigations into the incident. The police did not identify the man.

In his post, Mr Parkash — a Singaporean who is half-Indian and half-Filipino — said that he was confronted by the man about the fact that he was with his girlfriend, who is half-Chinese and half-Thai.

The man, who is seen wearing a red sports jersey with the word “Singapore” across his chest, admits on camera to being a racist and claims that Mr Parkash is also being racist for not “marrying” an Indian girl.

The man then says: “I have nothing against Indians, but I think it is racist for an Indian to marry a Chinese girl.”

On Monday, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said that several recent incidents have "sparked concerns on racism", referring to Mr Parkash's case and an earlier one where an Indian woman was allegedly kicked in her chest and verbally abuse with a racial slur.

"These incidents are striking, precisely because they go against what we stand for in Singapore," he wrote on Facebook, adding that with the unprecedented challenges brought on by Covid-19, it is more important than ever for Singaporeans to be united.

"Our diversity has always been our strength and we must never let it become our Achilles’ Heel."

On Sunday, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that the increasing number of incidents involving open racism is “quite unacceptable, very worrying”.

“I used to believe that Singapore was moving in the right direction on racial tolerance and harmony. Based on recent events, I am not so sure anymore,” Mr Shanmugam wrote on Facebook.

Related topics

racism Ngee Ann Polytechnic inter-ethnic marriages marriage

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