SINGAPORE — A woman allegedly involved in several racist incidents, several of which were filmed on the MRT, was charged in court on Friday (18 June).
Tan Beow Hiong, 57, was handed two counts of committing an act which she knew would be prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different racial groups, and one count of being a public nuisance.
Tan appeared unrepresented in court, decked out in the same hot pink dress she was allegedly filmed in while on the MRT, and asked to apply for legal aid.
The prosecution applied to have her remanded and assessed at the Institute of Mental Health.
District Judge Lorraine Ho remanded Tan for two weeks for psychiatric evaluation. She will return to court on 2 July.
According to her charge sheets, Tan is said to have caused annoyance to other passengers while in an MRT train on 11 May. She allegedly claimed loudly that she was not racist and said, “We are very different” and “I don’t even talk to Chinese rank-and-file like you”.
She is also said to have maintained a YouTube channel that comprised multiple videos alleging racism or harassment by persons of other races, including a video with the title “Malay Man Attempted to Molest Chinese Woman”, in which she repeatedly insinuated that Malays should not be touching Chinese.
On 21 April, Tan is said to have singled out other train passengers whom she thought were Malay and to have made derogatory remarks against them, such as “I will never mix around with you guys … we are so different” and “I am not a social worker, I am not doing charity work”.
Videos appeared on Twitter
Following the appearance of several videos on Twitter which went viral, police said in April that they were investigating incidents of alleged racism and harassment involving a woman who recorded videos and uploaded them on YouTube. Her YouTube channel was uncovered in the process.
The channel, belonging to a "Beow Tan", had 29 videos, with several titled "Malays Harassing Chinese". They were uploaded as early as 8 December 2016, with the latest video uploaded on 12 April 2021.
Most of the videos show members of the public going about their own business, with some unaware that they are being recorded. A woman who appears to be Tan Beow Hiong can be seen grilling them about their religion and accusing them of harassing her.
Several videos were accompanied by text alleging that the woman graduated from Hwa Chong Junior College and an unspecified university in Canada.
In the 12 April clip, a man is seen ignoring a woman who continuously berates him in both English and Mandarin and accuses him of molesting her at Boon Lay MRT station.
"You are not my type, I am not your type. Full stop. Malay touching a Chinese, what is this?... Boon Lay station has a lot of CCTVs (closed-circuit television), okay?" the woman is heard shouting in the five-minute clip.
"Did your religion teach you how to touch Chinese?...F***k you, man," the woman said, before alighting the train to speak to other female passengers about the man.
In another video uploaded on 27 April 2019, "Beow Tan alleged in a caption, "I was sitting at Crystal Jade when this Malay family purposely came to sit beside me. Malays always try to come near me."
Beow Tan's YouTube account has since been suspended due to "multiple or severe violations of YouTube's policy prohibiting content designed to harass, bully or threaten."
Tan Beow Hiang has also since been fired from her employer F Property Network, according to media reports. F Property Network said in a statement on 27 April that it maintains “zero tolerance for hate speech and racism that threatens the foundations on which Singapore is built”.
If convicted of promoting enmity between racial groups, Tan can be jailed up to three years, or fined, or both. If convicted of committing a public nuisance, she may jailed up to three months, or fined up to $2,000, or both.
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