Ex-Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer pleads guilty to making racist remarks, possessing obscene films
SINGAPORE: A former Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer pleaded guilty on Thursday (Nov 17) to making racist remarks and possessing obscene films.
Tan Boon Lee, 61, was filmed in a viral video last year confronting an inter-ethnic couple and making racist remarks to them.
He appeared in court on Thursday and remained silent while his charges were read, TODAY reported. Two other charges were taken into consideration at the hearing.
Tan will return to court for sentencing on Dec 29.
The court heard that the incident happened on Jun 5 last year, at Orchard Road.
Tan had crossed paths with Mr Dave Parkash, a 26-year-old Singaporean Sindhi, and Ms Jacqueline Noelle Llewelyn Ho, a 27-year-old Singaporean Chinese, who were walking towards a car park along Orchard Boulevard.
Tan told them that it was “such a disgrace, Indian man with a Chinese girl”.
He accused Mr Parkash of preying on Ms Ho, who is Chinese.
When Mr Parkash asked Tan if he had used the word “prey” to describe Indians, Tan responded: “Ya, prey, prey, prey. It’s predatory.”
According to court documents, Tan admitted to making the remarks because he felt that interracial relationships were “taboo” and “predatory”.
Mr Parkash published a video of the confrontation on Facebook the following day, writing: “I feel embarrassed, humiliated and hurt by how I was treated by another fellow Singaporean.”
On Jun 12, a week after the incident, police uncovered 64 obscene videos from Tan’s phone during investigations into his offences.
The videos showed unidentified women engaging in sexual intercourse and other sexual acts. The women were apparently filmed with their consent, and Tan had obtained the videos from online sources or from his friends.
Tan was subsequently sacked from his job at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, with the school citing a serious breach of its staff code of conduct.
TAN CAUSED "ADVERSE IMPACT ON RACIAL RELATIONS"
TODAY quoted Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Yeow Xuan as saying the incident was a targeted “vent and rant” attack against two unsuspecting members of the public.
"The remarks were not just directed at Mr Parkash, but at Ms Ho, Mr Parkash's family and the entire Indian race," DPP Yeow said.
She added: "The accused's remarks also caused great public disquiet and had an adverse impact on racial relations."
DPP Yeow sought a sentence of at least four weeks’ jail while Tan’s defence lawyer, Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, sought a lower sentence of two weeks' jail.
Mr Thuraisingam said Mr Tan’s daughter had a relationship with someone of a different race and that “weighed on his mind” when he saw the couple.
Tan had objected to his daughter’s relationship and was saddened "because of the views that he (now) accepts he wrongly held".
Mr Thuraisingam added: "Shortly after the incident (with Mr Parkash), he has issued two apologies — a private one to (Mr Parkash) as well as a public apology."
He also told the court that Tan underwent therapy from Jun 28 last year to Feb 11 this year, to address his low mood and grief over the loss of his relationship with his daughter, as well as to process his beliefs about race and religion and to make better choices.
“He has taken steps to become a better person,” said Mr Thuraisingam. “He recognises the flaws and faults in him, which exist in all of us.”
Tan could be jailed for up to three years, fined or both for uttering words with the deliberate intention of wounding the racial feelings of a person.
For committing an act prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious groups, Tan could also receive three years’ jail, fined, or both.
Possessing obscene films carries a punishment of up to 12 months’ jail or a fine of up to S$40,000 or both.