NUS law scholar faces disciplinary inquiry for explicit blog posts

An NUS law scholar and his girlfriend post shocking erotic photographs and videos on their personal blog. (Video screengrab from blog)

UPDATE (17 October 2012 9am) The law scholar behind a blog of erotic pictures has been called up to the National University of Singapore (NUS) to face potential disciplinary action.

According to an NUS spokesperson, the student concerned has been served a notice of Board of Discipline (DOB) inquiry.

The board will look into the matter and take appropriate disciplinary action against the scholar, who has also been advised to take down the offensive posts, the spokesperson said.

National University of Singapore law scholar Alvin Tan Jye Yee told Yahoo! Singapore on Tuesday afternoon that he has taken down his joint sex blog with his girlfriend "because there's been too much trouble for this and we want to stay out of trouble".

NUS’ spokesperson added that the student is on leave of absence and is not receiving scholarship funds.

“NUS adopts a rigorous process in the selection of scholarship recipients and scholars are selected based on their academic achievements and personal accomplishments," the spokesperson said.

Lawyers Yahoo! Singapore spoke to said that Tan had not broken any law here unless he had published the blog posts from Singapore.

"He will have to face internal disciplinary action within NUS, but has not committed a legal offence in Singapore per se if he blogged from Malaysia. He might be in trouble within Malaysia, depending on their laws against pornography, but here, I don't think so," said criminal lawyer Shashi Nathan of Inca Law LLC.

In an interview with Yahoo! Singapore Tuesday morning, Tan had said erotic photos and videos of himself and his girlfriend going viral was "exciting".

He had also said he is prepared to face the consequences of posting the sexual content on their personal blog.

On the site “Sumptuous Erotica”, Tan and Vivian Lee said they love posting about their sex life on the web “for everyone to enjoy” and that they upload only self-made content.

Some of the explicit photos posted on the website show the couple's naked bodies or body parts, and one shows a bloodstained sanitary pad.

Tan talked about why he started the blog and about facing the consequences of his postings.

"One fine day, we were just fooling around and my girlfriend had the idea of taking nude photos, just taking them, not necessarily uploading them. With more and more photos that we took, we realised we wanted some sort of recognition for our work so we started uploading them on FB but we blurred out the critical parts," he said.

He added that they started the blog at the end of September this year as the photos kept on getting flagged on FB and had to be taken down. It has since gone viral.

He says he has "mixed feelings" about all the attention the blog has gotten. "Part of me was worried about the real negative consequences like whether I breached anything legal or how would NUS react to this," he said.

"Of course the other part of me feels it’s quite surreal. I can’t say that I’m not excited," he added. "It’s not something you get to do everyday, it’s something most people won’t get to do in their whole life so that’s what I mean by exciting. It’s something different and unique."

He and his girlfriend have even been approached by small companies to endorse sex toys and lingerie, he disclosed.

Tan and Lee, both aged 23 and both Malaysian, are in Malaysia now, and Tan has taken a leave of absence from school to pursue a daily deals business.

On 15 October 2012, someone anonymously asked the couple why they do such things and their reply was, “Because we believe that there’s nothing inherently wrong with sex."

"We don’t see why people who are sexually-active and/or being open about their sex lives should be treated as sinners or criminals. Sex is a natural reproductive process that really doesn’t deserve to have a stigma attached to it. Close-minded people need to get over it," they said.

On facing possible consequences, Tan, who is in his last year as a law student, said that NUS has not contacted him yet.

"So far so good. I wouldn’t say I’m not worried but I’m prepared for it – to be expelled, for my scholarship to be taken away," he asserted, adding that he is prepared for either or both as he has been on leave from NUS for a year and a half. "I started my own firm and it’s doing pretty well, so that’s actually my career plan anyway," he said.

He still wants to come back to Singapore to finish his studies if he can."I want to do that but I’m not sure if I’ll be allowed to do that anymore. I would definitely go back to Singapore if I’m allowed to," he said.

Touching on the legal consequences of posting such explicit photos, he explained that all the activities had taken place in Malaysia and the postings had been done there.

"I know that also in law... if you’re not a Singapore national and you committed a crime outside of Singapore then you are basically scot-free," he said. "I don’t think I’ve contravened anything based on my own legal knowledge."

He said his friends who have read an article from The Straits Times quoting a lawyer as saying Tan could face charges for breaching the Films Act for the explicit videos do not agree with that lawyer.

"I don’t think I’m in any legal trouble," he averred.

An ex-classmate of Tan from junior college was not surprised by the NUS student’s behaviour. “He was very competitive in class, really smart and outspoken but at the same time eccentric. He was just plain weird so I wasn’t surprised when he came up with the blog,” she said.

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