SINGAPORE: A Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) lecturer who, according to a former student, shared “derogatory” views on Islam in class could be dismissed, said Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman on Thursday (Jun 10).
Ms Nurul Fatimah Iskandar shared her account of comments about Islam made by her then-lecturer Tan Boon Lee in class in 2017, on Instagram and Facebook on Wednesday.
In her posts, Ms Nurul said she was the only Muslim student in class. During the lesson on Jul 28, 2017, she said Mr Tan opened websites and projected them on screen, pointing out things about the religion he did not agree with.
He also pointed at her and asked if she agreed with what he was saying, said Ms Nurul in her account.
“I could barely open my mouth amidst his continuous sweeping statements. I was barely 17, fresh out of 10 years of madrasah trying to assimilate into the new secular environment,” she wrote in her post.
“After his suspension is over, he might return to the classrooms. He should not be allowed back.”
In her post, Ms Nurul also said she had made a complaint against the lecturer, but nothing happened after that.
Adding that she was “livid” at the time, she wrote: “I remember trying to build up the courage to finally make a complaint. I remember nothing happening.”
CNA sought comment from NP on this matter but the school did not address the issue in its response.
This lecturer is the “same one who had made racist comments”, Dr Maliki wrote in a post on Facebook.
NP suspended the staff member from teaching duties on Monday after a video of him making racist remarks towards an interracial couple was widely circulated online. The police said at the time that a 60-year-old man was assisting with investigations.
READ: Ngee Ann Polytechnic suspends teaching staff member who made racist remarks to couple in viral video
In his post, Dr Maliki said he was “very shocked and disappointed” to learn about the former student's account of how the lecturer shared his “personal and derogatory views” on Islam in class in 2017.
“NP and MOE take a serious view of this incident. NP is investigating further, and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action, including the dismissal of the lecturer if appropriate,” he wrote.
“There is no place for any anti-ethnic and anti-religious remarks in our education institutions, and even more so from an educator.”
NP is aware of the allegations surfaced by the alumnus against the lecturer who “inappropriately discussed religion in class” in 2017, said its spokesperson in response to CNA queries.
“We strive to ensure that our campus remains a safe and conducive space for learning at all times, and we deeply regret the experience our alumnus went through. We have reached out to the alumnus to assist us with more information,” the spokesperson added.
The school has a “zero tolerance approach” against “any form of misconduct” by members of the NP community, said the spokesperson.
“Our staff members are expected to respect the cultural, ethnic and religious differences when interacting with students and other staff members. They must uphold secularity and impartiality at all times, in line with our staff Code of Conduct.
“The lecturer in question has been suspended from his duties. We are investigating the matter and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action, including dismissal if appropriate.”
Students and alumni who have had “similar experiences” are also encouraged to contact the school at email@example.com, the spokesperson said.