Woman filmed in alleged racist rants on MRT trains gets new lawyer

Tan Beow Hiong exited the State Courts after her court hearing on 2 July. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore/Wan Ting Koh)
Tan Beow Hiong exited the State Courts after her court hearing on 2 July. (PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore/Wan Ting Koh)

SINGAPORE — A woman allegedly involved in multiple racist incidents, several of which were filmed on the MRT train, returned to court on Friday (2 July) with a new lawyer.

Tan Beow Hiong, 57, faces 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.

The former property agent had been remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) after she was charged last week.

Her counsel Sng Kheng Huat said he had just been appointed and asked for two weeks' adjournment to go through the prosecution's offer. A police prosecutor also told the court that Tan's IMH report was ready.

Sng asked what the prosecution's position might be with regards to a Mandatory Treatment Order for Tan, but the judge asked the lawyer to make representations to the prosecution.

Under a Mandatory Treatment Order, an offender will receive psychiatric treatment in lieu of jail time. Upon completion, the offender will not have a criminal record.

Tan was released on bail and warned by the judge not to commit offences fresh offences. She will return to court on 30 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

After several of her videos went viral after appearing on Twitter, 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 this year.

The account has since been suspended due to "multiple or severe violations of YouTube's policy prohibiting content designed to harass, bully or threaten".

She 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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