Police report filed against Amy Cheong over offensive Facebook post

An NTUC membership assistant director was fired from her post after she made insensitive remarks about Malay weddings on her personal Facebook account. (Photo courtesy of a Yahoo! reader)

[UPDATE at 4:40pm] DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam weighed in on the Amy Cheong issue, saying on his Facebook page that it is "Good that NTUC acted quickly" on the matter.

"The person's comments were offensive not only to Malay-Muslims, but all the rest of us who value Singapore's multiracial spirit and who want to take it further," he added.

Singapore police are investigating
the former NTUC staff who was fired on Monday morning for her profanity-laced post insulting traditional Malay void deck weddings.

A police report was filed against Amy Cheong, assistant director, membership department at labour movement NTUC, by a member of the public, Lionel Jerome de Souza on Monday morning.

De Souza is the secretary of Hougang's Inter-Racial and Confidence Circle (IRCC), which comes under the purview of the Ministry of Community Development Youth and Sports. In his report, he urged the police to take a serious view of Cheong's comments which "inevitably hurt the feelings of the Malays".

In her post on Sunday evening, Cheong had put up a public status on her personal Facebook timeline, complaining about a Malay wedding that was being held at a void deck near her home.

Among other things, she related Malay weddings to high divorce rates, and asked how society could “allow people to get married for 50 bucks”, peppering her post with vulgarities.

In a separate post, she also allegedly wrote, “Void deck weddings should be banned. If you can’t afford a proper wedding then you shouldn’t be getting married. Full stop.”

She has since been fired from her job by NTUC and also made multiple apologies after her profanity-laced post went viral online, triggering an angry backlash from both Malay and non-Malay communities alike.

The issue has also sparked debate over the public versus private nature of Facebook and her personal thoughts.

Some argued that her Facebook profile was her "private" space and that her own feelings were not reflective of her employers NTUC.

"Amy Cheong posted it on her personal Facebook account, people vent on their Facebook walls all the time, I wonder if it's fair to penalize someone so strongly for expressing a personal opinion in a somewhat private space," said marketing executive Lynette Lam, 26.

However, others felt as a former assistant director, she should have known better.

"If she were just saying that she was bothered by the noise, it would be okay, but the hateful language used and her serious insults on the Malay community far outweigh any private-public issue. It's dangerous for people to express themselves so irresponsibly," said bank officer Paul Cheong, 35.

Facebook user Surendren Karrupiah wrote on Yahoo! Singapore's Facebook page, "Director? How silly...  Generally, director representing ntuc should be unbiased in regards to her personal feeling about other minority groups. She openly criticised minority group in the social media shows clearly she is unfit to fill the position as director."

However, another user Andreas von Lucius says Cheong should be forgiven.

He wrote, "Why spread the hate? She has apologised, what more do you want her to do?... Humans are imperfect! I'm sure somewhere in our lives we have made racist remarks some way or another but just not made known in the public."

Meanwhile Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan Jin has also weighed in on the issue. In a post on his Facebook page, he said traditional Malay void deck weddings are as much a part of the Singapore landscape as "burning of offerings, void deck funerals... and increased parking during Friday prayers or Sunday morning worship."

He reminded all Singaporeans to "give and take" and to be proud of the diversity and "colourful tapestry" that makes up Singapore.

Related stories:
NTUC fires Assistant Director for racist comments
Amy Cheong's statement of apology
Singapore union group sacks executive after racist post
The Amy Cheong saga... fast, furious, unbridled