Singapore High Commission in contact with UK authorities on student assault sparked by COVID-19 comments
LONDON: The Singapore High Commission said on Wednesday (Mar 4) it is in contact with London police "at the highest level" to ensure that investigations into the assault of Singaporean student Jonathan Mok are followed through "with the utmost priority".
It is also in touch with the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office as well as the Home Office "given the broader implications with our large student and Singaporean community" in the country, said the high commission.
The 23-year-old UCL student said he was assaulted in London after he reacted to passers-by who were making comments about his race and COVID-19.
"The Singapore High Commission is deeply disturbed by this incident, although we do not believe that the assault reflects the majority view of the British people in particular towards Singapore, given the close and special relationship between the UK and Singapore," it said in a Facebook post.
"There are unfortunately always abhorrent elements in every society, especially in such uncertain and anxious times.
"British High Commissioner in Singapore Kara Owen has similarly expressed her shock and sadness on the incident, making it clear that there is no place in society for such nasty behaviour," it added.
Mr Mok told CNA he was walking along Oxford Street in London on Feb 24 when he heard a racist comment and the word "coronavirus" from some youths.
He then turned to look at them. One of the youths - three or four men and a woman - shouted at him.
The youths, who "seemed no older than 20 years old, but were all more than a head taller than me", then approached him, Mr Mok recounted.
Suddenly, he was punched in the face twice and another attacker attempted to kick him.
The man who tried to kick him then said: “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country,” before punching him again, Mr Mok said.
In response to CNA queries, London's Metropolitan Police Service confirmed on Tuesday that they are investigating the assault.
The victim was punched and sustained facial injuries, said the Met Police.
Investigations are ongoing to identify the suspects, including an assessment of available CCTV footage, it said.
No arrests have been made, the police said, and asked witnesses to come forward.
The Met Police was unable to provide CNA with data relating to the number of racially aggravated incidents connected to COVID-19.
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The Singapore High Commission urged all Singaporeans to take precautions, especially when travelling alone in the UK, and to report any abuse to the police.
"Our most practical advice is to not engage with such nefarious elements and to remove oneself from such a situation in the quickest way possible," it said.