Poly student, 19, arrested for allegedly inciting violence and posting comments with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings
Singapore PR's posts purportedly contained threats of 'gunning down' a certain group of people
The police have arrested a 19-year-old Temasek Polytechnic (TP) student for allegedly inciting violence and posting comments with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings on social media.
In several posts on his Instagram account on Sunday, the youth allegedly claimed he had dreamt about shooting and killing Muslims, and said he derived great satisfaction from the feeling of "gunning down anyone that's relatively brown and non-Chinese looking".
He had also allegedly made misogynistic remarks about "rape victims".
Scores of netizens reacted with fury after screenshots of his alleged posts were circulated on social media.
The police said in a statement last night that they received several reports between Sunday and yesterday about an Instagram user who had posted insensitive comments and threats that could incite violence against a group of people.
"The posts also contained hate comments that could wound religious feelings," said a spokesman.
After investigating, officers from the Jurong Police Division established the identity of the Singapore Permanent Resident and arrested him yesterday. A laptop, computer and mobile phone were seized, the spokesman added.
TP said in a post on its Twitter page yesterday that it takes a serious view of the matter and is investigating.
It added that it will not hesitate to mete out the necessary disciplinary action against the student.
When asked by The New Paper, the school declined to say exactly what action it would take.
The incident comes amid calls for Singaporeans to remain united as the country battles the coronavirus pandemic.
In his speech on Singapore's post-Covid-19 future on Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: "For our plans to succeed, for our hopes and dreams to come true, we need one final ingredient: The unity and resilience of our people.
"Confronting adversity, do we yield to anger, fear and bitterness? Or will we be true to ourselves, stand firm, make tough choices, and continue to trust and depend on one another?"
Singaporeans TNP spoke to were quick to condemn the student's alleged remarks, with Nominated MP Lim Sun Sun describing them as "grossly discriminatory and bigoted".
She said there is no room in society for such remarks.
Student Ahmad Ridhuan, 23, said that while he was not very offended, such comments may cause the Muslim community to feel unsafe.
Ms Jazlyn Tan, 27, who works in retail, said: "These words might mean nothing to (the student), but it might affect others tremendously."
Mr M. Murugan, 44, an SBS Transit station manager, said the comments were "uncalled for", and students should be taught from a young age that they cannot say such things.
Professor Lim, who also sits on the Media Literacy Council (MLC), told TNP that Internet and social media users must consider not just basic decency or the legal implications of their posts, but should also honour the values of our multi-racial society when publishing comments online.
She added: "One also has to remember that even though you can select the degree of publicness for your posts, you need to take into account their replicability because people can capture screenshots and disseminate them elsewhere."
Those who spot insensitive comments online should immediately report them using the functions available on social media platforms.
Posts that incite hatred and violence against others would warrant that a police report be lodged, she said.
In a separate incident, a 2016 photo of Raffles Institution students with their faces painted black became a talking point after resurfacing last week.
In response, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Saturday that racial insensitivity or micro-aggression against those of another race are not condoned.
Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu said last month that racism and xenophobia had resurfaced during the ongoing pandemic.
She urged people to find innovative ways of engagement and take action in areas they care about, such as countering vitriolic posts and sharing positive stories instead.
The MLC recommends that individuals ask themselves the following questions before posting anything online: "Is it true? Is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Is it necessary? Is it kind?"
A person who makes a document containing incitement to violence can be jailed for up to five years or fined, or both.
A person who posts comments with deliberate intent to wound religious or racial feelings of another can be jailed for up to three years or fined, or both.