Ex Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer was charged on 17 May 2022 for multiple incidents where he had allegedly made racist remarks and insensitive comments about religion, and the possession of obscene films.
Tan Boon Lee, 61, is accused of making racist remarks to Mr Dave Parkash, 26, in the vicinity of Angullia Park in Orchard Road on June 5 last year.
The 61-year-old was given a charge of using words with the deliberate intention of wounding another’s racial feelings and two charges of committing an act prejudicial to the maintenance of religious harmony. He was also charged with possessing 64 obscene films on Jun 12, 2021.
In total, he faces four charges.
WHAT HAPPENED :
As per the court documents seen by ST, Tan said: “Fine, you’re not from India. I got nothing against you staying in Singapore. I got nothing against you. The only thing is when you’re preying on Chinese girl, I tell you the Chinese don’t like it.”
He also allegedly told Mr Parkash: “If you are proud of your own race, you marry somebody Indian.”
Tan Boon Lee’s comments were captured in a video that went viral, which lead to his suspension.
Mr Parkash’s girlfriend, who is half-Thai and half-Singaporean Chinese, recorded the confrontation and the video went viral online.
Mr Parkash could be heard in the video saying he is “half Indian, half Filipino”, while his girlfriend is “half Singaporean Chinese, half Thai”.
Tan, who is Singaporean, is also said to have made insensitive remarks about Islam during a lecture in Ngee Ann Poly on July 28, 2017, according to ST.
He allegedly told his students: “What type of father tells you to worship him five times a day and threatens to send you to hell if you don’t?”, according to CNA report.
He is also accused of providing insensitive answers about religion in response to questions on an online forum between Aug 10, 2020, and Sept 13 the same year.
Court documents show he also made other insensitive remarks during the lecture.
Between Aug 10, 2020, and Sep 13, 2020, Tan also allegedly gave religiously insensitive answers on the online forum Quora.com.
In response to a question on whether there is a psychological explanation for people being overcome by the Holy Spirit, his comments included: “Overcome by the Holy Spirit and evils (sic) spirit or ghost are exactly the same… And people under the influence of drugs or epilepsy have the exact same experience.”
In response to another question on whether a food item was halal, he allegedly made insensitive remarks about Islam.
As soon the video went viral Tan wasn sacked by Ngee Ann Poly for serious misconduct.
After the video went viral Mr Tan apologised publicly, he 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.”
“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” he added.
“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.”
Tan also faces one charge of possessing 64 obscene films, he was represented by Mr Johannes Hadi from Eugene Thuraisingam, is out on $5,000 bail and is set to return to court on June 24.
For wounding racial feelings, he can be jailed for up to three years and fined.
The maximum penalty for committing an act prejudicial to the maintenance of religious harmony carries a three-year jail term and a fine. If convicted of possessing obscene films, Tan can be fined up to $40,000 and jailed for up to a year.
CHARGES IN DETAIL :
- One count of uttering words with the deliberate intention of wounding the racial feelings of a person under Section 298 of the Penal Code, for allegedly passing racist remarks to a 26-year-old man in the vicinity of Angullia Park on 5 June 2021;
- One count of committing an act prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious groups under Section 298A(b) of the Penal Code, for allegedly making insensitive remarks about religion during a lecture at Ngee Ann Polytechnic on 28 July 2017;
- One count of committing an act prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious groups under Section 298A(b) of the Penal Code, for allegedly providing insensitive answers about religion in response to questions on an online forum between 10 August 2020 and 13 September 2020; and
- One count of possession of obscene films under Section 30(2)(a) of the Films Act (“Films Act”), for the possession of obscene films in his mobile phone.
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