Former Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer apologises for racist remarks he made to an interracial couple

Former Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer apologises for racist remarks he made to an interracial couple

Dave Parkash
A screengrab from a viral video showing a man in a red polo T-shirt telling Mr Dave Parkash (in white) that it is "racist that Indians marry Chinese girls". (Screengrab: Facebook/Dave Parkash)

SINGAPORE: A former Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) lecturer on Friday (Jul 9) apologised for making racist remarks towards an interracial couple.

Mr Tan Boon Lee's comments were captured in a video that went viral, leading his employer to suspend him early last month before dismissing him.

In a public statement on Friday, Mr Tan said: "On Jun 5, 2021, I had an encounter in public with Mr Dave Parkash and his partner, Ms Jacqueline Ho. During that encounter, I made several unwelcome comments about cross‐cultural relationships. The comments were unacceptable. I am deeply sorry for what I said."

He added: "What happened that evening was out of character for me. I have been struggling with a personal matter which has caused me much grief and pain. Nevertheless, my personal problems are no excuse for my actions. 

"I have apologised to Mr Parkash, Ms Ho, and their families. I now wish to apologise to those in the wider Singaporean community whom I have hurt and offended with my words."

The police said on Jun 6 that reports were made over the incident and that a "60-year-old man was assisting with investigations".

Mr Tan's lawyer told CNA on Friday that his case is still under investigation.

READ: Ngee Ann Polytechnic to sack teaching staff member who made racist remarks to couple in video 

In the video uploaded by Mr Parkash, Mr Tan can be heard telling Mr Parkash and Ms Ho to date people of their "own race". 

Mr Tan, who acknowledged he is a "Chinese Singaporean", then added: "I've got nothing against you personally, but I think it's racist that the Indian prey on Chinese girl." 

When Mr Parkash called him a racist, Mr Tan agreed that he was. In the video, Mr Parkash said he is "half Indian, half Filipino", while his girlfriend is "half Singaporean Chinese, half Thai".

READ: Ngee Ann Poly lecturer who allegedly shared 'personal and derogatory views' on Islam could be dismissed: Maliki

Mr Tan said that the incident has prompted him to "dig deep" and reflect on his own behaviour and motivations.

"I realise now that although I spoke from a place of deep personal pain, my words were bigoted, discriminatory, and insensitive," he said.

"I recognise my shortcomings and wish to learn from this incident. With the support of my family, friends, and I hope the wider community, I will work on my flaws to ensure that I do not make the same mistakes again." 

Mr Tan is also accused of making Islamophobic remarks in class in 2017, according to an online post by an NP alumna. 

After those allegations surfaced, an NP spokesperson told CNA on Jun 17 that the polytechnic had officially charged him for serious breach of its staff Code of Conduct, and was in the process of terminating Tan's employment.

The polytechnic confirmed on Friday that he has been dismissed.

Source: CNA/ic

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