SINGAPORE — Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman has taken to Facebook to express his shock and disappointment at alleged Islamophobic remarks made by a Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) lecturer.
Dr Maliki, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs, was responding on Thursday (10 June) to an NP alumnus’ claims that Tan Boon Lee, a senior lecturer at the polytechnic’s School of Engineering, had shared derogatory views on Islam in a class in 2017.
The account by Nurul Fatimah Iskandar, 22, on Instagram went viral. In it, she alleged that Tan had carried out a “full-on discourse about Islam which escalated so badly” during a lesson.
Her post came after a nine-and-a-half minute video posted online on Sunday by Facebook user David Parkash shows him arguing with Tan outside Far East Shopping Centre. Parkash was with his girlfriend when the incident happened. Referring to the inter-racial couple, Tan had in the viral video said it is "racist that the Indians prey on the Chinese girls".
Tan has since been suspended by the polytechnic, which is conducting an internal investigation into his conduct in the incident outside the mall. NP is also looking into the alleged comments made by him in class in 2017. Tan is also currently under police investigation.
In his Facebook post, Dr Maliki said that the NP and the Ministry of Education (MOE) take a serious view of the incident in 2017.
"The NP is investigating further, and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action, including the dismissal of the lecturer if appropriate. There is no place for any anti-ethnic and anti-religious remarks in our educational institutions, and even more so from an educator," he added.
Dr Maliki also stressed that the MOE and educational institutions in Singapore have a "zero-tolerance stance" towards any behaviour or remark that is intentionally insensitive and derogatory to any race or religion.
"All our educators are expected to uphold the code of conduct set out by their institutions, which states clearly that they must uphold secularity and impartiality at all times," he noted.
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