American slapped on MRT train thanks Singaporeans for support

Vernon Lee
Senior Editor
A man was seen harassing and slapping an American in an MRT train on Wednesday (19 April). (Photo: Screenshot of video posted on Facebook by Joe DeMarini)

UPDATE: Police said on Saturday (22 April) that they have arrested the man

A viral video of a man who harassed and slapped an American on an MRT train earlier this week has prompted an outpouring of support from Singaporeans for the victim.

Joe DeMarini, who is on a working holiday here as a TV development producer, told Yahoo Singapore on Friday (21 April) that he was touched by the encouraging messages from Singaporeans.

“I’ve received hundreds of messages from total strangers saying, ‘We hope you are OK’, ‘Please file a police report’, ‘This isn’t Singapore’, ‘It’s not your fault’. So I don’t feel bad about it anymore,” said DeMarini.

A number of Singaporeans praised DeMarini, 25, for not retaliating against the man during the incident. In one message, a Singaporean told DeMarini, “I would rather have you in Singapore than that uncle.”

The American was travelling with a female friend in a train on the North East Line towards Serangoon MRT station on Wednesday night when the incident happened. DeMarini recounted the incident in a video post on his Facebook page, which has garnered more than 1 million views and shared almost 17,000 times since it was posted on Thursday morning.

The man, who claimed to be gay, was heard taunting DeMarini in the video and saying, “I’m your friend. I want you to f**k me tonight.” The man accosted and touched DeMarini despite the American telling him not to do so. “Singapore is not like America, we can touch you,” the man said.

A Caucasian woman was seen walking over to the man and trying to calm him down. The man persisted in approaching DeMarini, saying, “I’m very touchable…Can I kiss you? I want to kiss you now.”

After being told off by DeMarini, the man slapped the American, prompting another male commuter to intervene in an attempt to stop the harassment.

DeMarini told Yahoo Singapore that he and his friend boarded the train at Chinatown MRT station and they sat in the middle of a carriage.

Before the incident happened, DeMarini noticed the man was sitting on a priority seat and trying to talk to a woman seated next to him. After the woman moved away, the man walked towards DeMarini and stood in front of him. His first words to DeMarini were, “I like you”, according to the American.

Joe DeMarini, a 25-year-old American on a six-month working stint Singapore, recounted his experience in the MRT train when he was slapped by a man on Wednesday (19 April). (Photo courtesy of Joe DeMarini)

On Friday, DeMarini went to a police station to lodge a report about the incident.

“The reason why I went to the police to submit a report is that if he does it again and gets caught, I want them to have more evidence against him. I don’t want someone else to go through what I went through.”

Despite the incident, DeMarini hopes to extend his six-month working stint in Singapore. The American, who has been in Singapore for the past two months, first visited the Republic more than three years ago during a short holiday and found it to be a “cool” city.

DeMarini said, “The incident could have happened anywhere, it just happened to be here. I’m not going to let it change my views of the people of Singapore. I’m very positive about Singapore.”