In a multiracial society like Singapore, we should respect people of different ethnicities and religions. For those who violate this rule, the punishment can often be severe.
This was the case for an ex-Ngee Ann Poly lecturer, Tan Boon Lee, who made racist remarks to an interracial couple last year.
A video that captured the incident went viral on 6 Jun 2021, with police opening an investigation into the matter.
Authorities then discovered previous incidents of Tan making insensitive comments about religion as a lecturer. He also possessed obscene films, which is illegal in Singapore.
If charged, he may spend up to seven years in jail.
The Straits Times (ST) reports that on Tuesday (17 May), 61-year-old Tan was charged with:
Tan also faces an additional charge for possessing 64 obscene films.
Tan had allegedly made insensitive comments about religion during a lecture at Ngee Ann Polytechnic on 28 Jul 2017.
Between 10 Aug 2020 and 13 Sep 2020, he provided insensitive answers about religion to questions on an online forum as well.
According to Channel NewsAsia (CNA), for one count of deliberately wounding the racial feelings of a person, he faces a jail term of up to three years, a fine, or both.
For making insensitive comments on religion that are prejudicial to the harmony of different religious groups, he faces a jail term of up to three years, a fine, or both.
For possessing obscene films, he may serve a maximum jail term of up to 12 months, a fine of up to S$40,000 fine, or both.
Tan is currently out on a S$5,000 bail and will next be in court on 24 Jun.
On 6 Jun 2021, a five-minute video of Tan arguing with an interracial couple went viral.
Tan accused Dave Parkash of “preying on a Chinese girl” in the video. He told Parkash and his girlfriend that they should date people of their race. Parkash’s girlfriend took a video of the confrontation.
Tan then seemingly issued an apology for the incident. Using a new Facebook account, he acknowledged the insensitivity of his remarks and actions.
Regardless of an apology, incidents of targeted racial hate can cause serious discord. As such, the punishment for such offences is not likely to be light.
Perhaps Tan will be able to reflect on his actions over the past few years and turn over a new leaf. Even so, he should receive the appropriate penalty for his offences.
In the meantime, we hope Mr Parkash and his girlfriend can take this as a form of justice, one year after the incident.
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