[UPDATE on Saturday, 5 July 2014, 11am: Adding Science Centre chief executive's apology.]
The Science Centre's chief executive, who is currently leading in a "sexist" award poll, has apologised for the remarks which got him shortlisted for the award.
Dr Lim Tit Meng said, in an email reply to Yahoo Singapore, "In reference to my weekend email letter to staff dated 8 March 2014, I recognise that my words were inappropriate and I apologise unreservedly. My objective was to contextualise how women have been discriminated over time across cultures and I wanted to motivate and challenge my fellow colleagues to break the shackles of any stereotype and emerge a winner that they all can be. I am proud to be part of a great team at Science Centre and I deeply regret any distress caused to my colleagues by my words.”
Earlier on Thursday evening, he had scored the majority 70 per cent of votes — in less than a day of voting — the AWARE award for the most “jaw-dropping” sexist remark.
The fourth annual tongue-in-cheek ALAMAK! Award organised by the not-for-profit women advocacy group was launched on Thursday afternoon. The group has nominated Lim, an Associate Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore, for an internal email he wrote in March to colleagues. In it, he explained how women are incapable of achieving high career positions.
He sent the email on International Women’s Day, and in it, he had said, “…I have my reasons why not many women can have the stature to hold the highest position. One of them is simply about the complex nature of women which challenges them with communication barriers in even understanding their own gender well, let alone having to compete or co-labour with the men at work".
Still, Lim, acknowledging that women outnumber men at his workplace, added that, “Understanding women and women understanding is an ongoing lesson not just for men, but for everyone, to continually learn, unlearn and relearn”.
Lim is one of four nominees chosen for the award, of which the winner will be announced on 25 August after voting closes.
The remaining nominees include lawyer Mr Suresh Damodara, who argued that victims of his client, a serial rapist, faced less than “the usual trauma” as they had been drugged.
Low-cost carrier Scoot has been nominated for a “sexist” ad that insulted gender stereotypes about women being needy and men being unreliable. Lastly, Goldheart Jewellery is shortlisted for an ad that said that women’s “strength” is found in “weakness”.
The winner in 2013 went to the principal of St. Margaret’s Secondary School who forced her students, who shaved their heads in support for cancer, to wear wigs to school.
Yahoo Singapore has reached out to all four nominees for comment.