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Baey Yam Keng apologises for comments over foreign student's remark

Tampines MP Baey Yam Keng apologised in Parliament Tuesday, for his comments over a remark by a foreign student here on a Singapore government scholarship.

Baey Yam Keng apologises for comments over foreign student's remark

File photo of MP for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng

SINGAPORE: Tampines MP Baey Yam Keng apologised in Parliament Tuesday, for his comments over a remark by a foreign student here on a Singapore government scholarship.

Mr Baey has been accused of not standing up for Singaporeans.

But he said that was never his intention.

The comment by China national Sun Xu, that "there are more dogs than humans in Singapore", had sparked plenty of comments after it went viral online.

The final-year Mechanical Engineering student at the National University of Singapore had posted the remark on his microblog, after describing how some "uncles" in Singapore would stare at him after he brushed against them in public.

Some netizens also took issue with the fact that Sun is a government scholar.

Mr Baey was later quoted by a newspaper saying that there might be something in Sun's words that Singaporeans could reflect on.

This added to the furore, even after Mr Baey subsequently explained on his Facebook - saying he did not agree with Sun's comment, but that he felt Singaporeans could be more open to criticism.

And he maintained this stand in Parliament on Tuesday, although he apologised to those who felt hurt by his words.

"In trying to give the benefit of doubt to what the student said, and attempting to soothe the hard feelings of some Singaporeans, I was accused of siding with a foreigner and not standing up for fellow Singaporeans. It was never my intention to undermine Singaporeans but to those whom my words have hurt, I am sorry," said Mr Baey.

But he also noted the frustration among Singaporeans on being squeezed out by foreigners, whether it's for seats in the train, or for places in schools.

He said that negative sentiments against foreigners should not all be treated as noise.

What he has learnt, he said, is that he needs to be more sensitive to how people might read into certain words.

And he said the same applies for policymakers when they craft, implement and communicate policies.

Source: CNA/cc

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