Singapore: Ex-Ngee Ann Poly lecturer issues public apology for ‘bigoted’ comments to inter-ethnic couple

Screenshot of a video showing Dave Parkash (right in left image) being confronted by Tan Boon Lee. — Dave Park Ash/Facebook pic via TODAY
Screenshot of a video showing Dave Parkash (right in left image) being confronted by Tan Boon Lee. — Dave Park Ash/Facebook pic via TODAY

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SINGAPORE, July 11 — The former Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturer who was captured in a viral video making racist remarks to an inter-ethnic couple has apologised for his actions, adding that he has been facing unspecified “personal problems”.

In a public statement on Friday, issued by his lawyers, Tan Boon Lee said: “On June 5, 2021, I had an encounter in public with Dave Parkash and his partner, 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.”

In the video that went viral on social media about a month ago, Tan could be seen proclaiming himself as a racist and telling Prakash that he is also racist for not marrying an Indian girl.

Parkash, who published the video on his Facebook account is a half-Indian and half-Filipino Singaporean. He was with his girlfriend, who is half-Chinese and half-Thai, when he was being confronted by Tan along Orchard Road.

In his public statement, Tan said that what happened during his confrontation with Parkash was “out of character” and that he had been struggling with a personal matter, which has been causing him much grief and pain.

“Nevertheless, my personal problems are no excuse for my actions. I have apologised to Parkash, 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,” he said.

Tan is now being investigated by the police for this incident, as well as another one where Nurul Fatimah Iskandar, a former student from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, alleged that Tan made Islamaphobic remarks in a class in 2017.

Tan’s statement on Friday made no reference to the allegation of his Islamophobic statements.

The polytechnic suspended his duties before sacking him after completing its own investigations against Tan.

He said that the incident with Prakash has prompted him to reflect on his own behaviour and motivations.

He also acknowledged that his words were “bigoted, discriminatory and insensitive” even though it came from a place of “deep personal pain”.

Tan did not elaborate on the nature or cause of his personal problems.

“I recognise my shortcomings and wish to learn from this incident. With the support of my family, friends and, I hope, the wider community, I will work on my flaws to ensure that I do not make the same mistakes again,” he said. — TODAY

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