Monday, 29 April 2019

After Monica Baey: My daughter is in NUS, should I be worried?




My daughter, a first-year National University of Singapore (NUS) student, once told me a joke:

What do NUS and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students have in common?

Answer: They all applied to NUS.

I think she read it in NUSWhispers.

After last week, there is another answer: They may be secretly filmed showering on campus.

Singapore Management University doesn’t look so bad now.

Last week, besides Avengers: Endgame spoilers, all anyone could talk about was NUS student Monica Baey.

She posted an Instagram Story about catching another student filming her in the shower, which resulted in Facebook posts by two ministers and a disappointing NUS town hall meeting on Thursday.







We also learnt that 26 sexual offence cases (update: police say 25) had been brought before the NUS disciplinary board over the past three years. That works out to be approximately one sexual offence every six weeks (even if it was 25 cases over three years).

NTU: “Hold my beer.”

Also last week, two cases of an NTU student being filmed in the shower were reported within days of each other.



And all these are just incidents that have been reported. There could be more perpetrators who were not caught.

Who knew local university campuses are such popular locations for illicit amateur voyeur porn production?

I certainly didn’t read about it in the university prospectuses when my daughter and I were deciding which school to apply to after she got her A-level results last year.

There is apparently no global ranking of universities based on the number of perverts matriculating in the school.

By the way, it’s not true that matriculation causes blindness.

In any case, a bigger factor in picking a university is the school’s remoteness from civilisation, which was why NTU wasn’t our first choice.

After all, we chose NUS even though we were aware of the sexualised freshmen orientation games scandal of 2016.

That was when then Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung felt it was necessary to point out on Facebook that “pretending to ejaculate into the face of a fellow student” is a “reprehensible act that cannot be tolerated”.



I’m happy (and relieved) to report that my daughter attended an NUS freshmen orientation camp last year and did not witness anyone pretending to ejaculate into anyone’s face or she would have told me.

However, in the wake of the Monica Baey revelations, my daughter received a series of e-mails from NUS last week that were more concerning than reassuring.

The first was an April 21 e-mail from the NUS Students’ Union Exco, saying that sexual harassment “is a serious community problem” and victims should report such matters to the school. The Exco added that if victims are told not to report, they should report that too.



Later that day, the Dean of Students sent an e-mail about how NUS “does not tolerate sexual misconduct” and that a committee will be convened “to review the current student disciplinary and support frameworks”.



Then on Friday after the town hall, the Students’ Union Exco sent an e-mail to express “extreme” disappointment in how the town hall was run.



Later that day, the NUS Provost sent an e-mail regarding the town hall to “acknowledge that there was some disappointment”, which makes you wonder, if NUS couldn’t even organise a town hall competently, how is it going to do all the things it said it was going to do?

And it isn’t like the university doesn’t have enough problems. Earlier this month, it was reported that NUS and the Singapore Food Agency are investigating after two outbreaks of food poisoning on campus.



So not only does my daughter have to watch out for the perverts in NUS, she has to be careful of the food too?

Academics, schmacademics.

Just three more years to go.

Three.

Long.

Years.

I must make sure she never takes a shower in school.

- Published in The New Paper, 29 April 2019

Friday, 26 April 2019

Sent to NUS students: [NUSSU EXCO] Statement on NUS Town Hall



So my daughter, an NUS student, received another e-mail from the students' union this afternoon:



Dear Students,

NUSSU EXCO would like to thank all the students who attended and participated in the town hall organised by NUS on Thursday, 25th April 2019. While we appreciate that the University promptly responded to the students’ call for a town hall, we are extremely disappointed in the way the meeting was run.

  • We regret that the town hall was planned in a manner that did not allow for an extension. The town hall should have been the administration’s top priority in light of the various concerns raised by the students over the past week. This was also a huge letdown for students who cleared their schedules prior to finals but were unable to voice their concerns.
  • NUSSU EXCO is disheartened to observe that the panelists were unable to answer students’ questions adequately as they are not on the Review Committee and therefore could not make any commitment on their behalf.
  • Furthermore, the town hall did not meet its original intentions of sharing its investigative and disciplinary procedures and the sanctions framework for sexual misconduct.
  • Despite the aforementioned concerns, we welcome the NUS administration’s plans to establish a centralised victim support unit and improve security infrastructure in halls and residential colleges.
  • We also appreciate the University for following through on our suggestions to enforce anonymity and include counsellors on standby.
  • Moving forward, we have submitted two requests formally to the NUS President, Prof Tan Eng Chye. The first is to increase the diversity and quantity of student representation in the Review Committee. The second is to convene another town hall with members of the Review Committee on the panel as part of their report crafting methodology. This is to ensure that students can receive committal answers from individuals who have decision-making power in the committee, and that their voices are heard.
  • Last but not least, we applaud the students who mustered the courage to share with the NUS administration their experiences and feedback with the purpose of creating a safer and more empowering environment for all.
  • The notes of the town hall and the remaining unasked questions can be found at bit.ly/nustownhall2019. We have forwarded them to nuslistens@nus.edu.sg and we encourage students to submit their concerns, queries and feedback to the aforementioned email address. Students who wish to reach out to NUSSU EXCO can contact us at feedback@nussu.org.sg.

It's also posted on the NUSSU Facebook page:



Later that night, my daughter received this e-mail from the NUS Provost:

Dear Students,

Yesterday afternoon, the Office of Student Affairs and NUSSU held a town hall to discuss how we can improve campus safety and offer better support to victims of sexual misconduct. I would like to thank those who attended and contributed.

I acknowledge that there was some disappointment that the session could not be extended to allow more of you to speak. After the session, NUSSU collated the remaining questions and submitted them to nuslistens@nus.edu.sg, the e-mail address we created to hear from you directly. I assure you that your comments and questions will be carefully reviewed and considered.

The town hall is just the first step in a broad consultation with the NUS community to hear from our students, faculty and staff. We are committed to providing further opportunities for consultation and feedback in the coming weeks, including more town hall sessions.

As you may know, the NUS Board of Trustees has convened a review committee on sexual misconduct. The points raised at the town hall will be shared in full with the committee, in addition to any submissions sent to nuslistens@nus.edu.sg.

I would like to state emphatically that we take our responsibilities very seriously when it comes to protecting everyone in our community from harm. We hear your forceful voices on the need to strengthen our disciplinary framework, to improve victim care support and physical safety, and to redouble our efforts to create a culture that allows everyone to feel safe on campus.

As immediate actions, the University will:

  1. Establish a dedicated office where victims of sexual misconduct can receive specialised, professional support and care. This office will support victims from the point they make a report, and ensure privacy and sensitivity in handling their cases. It will also have counsellors to provide aftercare support and address other concerns and needs that victims may have. This office will be in place before the start of the new academic year.
  2. Accelerate the enhancement of physical security on campus, including broader CCTV coverage, more security staff and better sexual misconduct-specific training for security staff.
  3. Work with student representatives to implement heightened security and privacy tools in bathrooms in all student residences.
  4. Deliver educational seminars on respect, consent and awareness for all students, faculty and staff from the start of the new academic year.

We are committed to a transparent and consultative process, and our proposed actions will continue to be published for your feedback before they are implemented by the start of the new academic year.

Please do reach out to nuslistens@nus.edu.sg, with your suggestions and feedback.

Thank you for taking the time to voice your concerns. I assure you that we are listening.

Sincerely,
Professor Ho Teck Hua




EARLIER: Sent to NUS students: [NUSSU EXCO] Statement on Sexual Harassment in NUS


Sunday, 21 April 2019

Sent to NUS students: [NUSSU EXCO] Statement on Sexual Harassment in NUS





My daughter, an NUS student, received this e-mail this morning:

Dear Students,

NUSSU Exco expresses its condemnation of any form of sexual harassment, which is a serious community problem that everyone has a responsibility in handling. NUSSU Exco is regretful that Ms Monica Baey, and other victims of sexual harassment, have had to go through such traumatic experiences as an NUS student.

NUSSU Exco strongly encourages any victim of sexual harassment to report to NUS, and is willing to assist students in helping report such matters to NUS. Students who know of such victims are encouraged to provide social support and help them seek professional support if necessary.

Students who are told to not report such matters, or are not comfortable with approaching NUS directly, should alert and contact NUSSU Exco at feedback@nussu.org.sg. NUSSU Exco is currently in the process of clarifying who had told Ms Baey that she should not report the matter.

However, justice needs to consider both the victim and the perpetrator, and needs to be proportionate. While the discussion on the issue of sexual harassment and this particular case is important and welcome, NUSSU Exco also strongly urges fellow students to not harass Mr Nicholas Lim and his family.

NUSSU Exco notes that in this particular case, the Board had ordered the following:

  • One semesters’ suspension;
  • Ban from entering into all on-campus housing premises;
  • Mandatory counselling sessions at University Health Centre;
  • Community-based sanctions of 30 hours of supervised community service;
  • Mandatory rehabilitation and reconciliation sessions with a social worker;
  • Writing a mandatory letter of apology; and
  • Official letter of reprimand

NUSSU Exco also recognises, that as opposed to a criminal court, that rehabilitation is an extremely strong principle in how student offenders are treated in the Board of Discipline, given that NUS is an educational institution. NUSSU Exco also notes that the Board of Discipline had acted in accordance with existing precedent and due process, and respects that the decision by the Board was arrived at in good faith.

However, NUSSU Exco is in the process of considering whether for future cases, as a matter of general policy against sexual harassment, there should be heavier punishments as a matter of deterrence, and for retributive justice for victims.

Furthermore, NUSSU Exco stresses that punishment is only one aspect of how NUS should deal with sexual harassment, and that this episode highlights how NUS policy with respect to sexual harassment could be reviewed in various areas. These include:

  • Increasing awareness and education of sexual harassment on campus, as a preventive policy;
  • Improving social-psychological support for victims of sexual harassment;
  • Greater transparency and education on how sexual harassment cases are dealt with in NUS; and
  • Improving the culture of reporting sexual harassment in NUS, to create a safer environment for reporting harassment.

NUSSU Exco also stresses that all members of NUS have a role to play in creating a culture where sexual harassment is not acceptable. This is not the sole responsibility of the administration, and NUSSU Exco encourages students to play their part in ensuring that we create an empowering, safe and trusting environment for all.

NUSSU Exco recognises that NUS takes sexual harassment very seriously, and appreciates that it is continuing such a stance and policy. NUSSU Exco notes that NUS has recently conducted the following:

  • Review of the code of student conduct, with extensive revisions to the provisions on sexual misconduct; and
  • Education of campus security investigation officers and board of discipline members on how to sensitively handle sexual harassment cases.

NUSSU Exco takes issues of sexual harassment seriously, and notes that there is currently a proposal being mooted in NUSSU Council with respect to conducting a survey regarding sexual harassment in NUS.

In light of this incident, NUSSU Exco is currently conceiving an action plan to better address issues of sexual harassment. This includes the drafting of a report by NUSSU Exco on whether existing sentencing guidelines should be revised, whilst considering other processes.

NUSSU Exco will continue to work closely with NUS in making the campus a safe and secure environment for all our students. NUSSU Exco also notes that NUS President is to convene a Committee to review disciplinary and support frameworks in NUS. NUSSU Exco is confident that the Committee and the administration will continuously engage with students, to create a safer environment that everyone has confidence in.

Students who have any feedback on this matter can contact NUSSU Exco via email at feedback@nussu.org.sg. NUSSU Exco welcomes and encourages students to continue to make their views known through official channels, such that the NUS administration and NUSSU Exco can act accordingly.

It was also posted on the NUSSU Facebook page:



This follows an earlier NUS statement yesterday:



There are at least two online petitions regarding this case, We want Singapore police to reopen Monica Baey’s case! and Stiffer Punishment For Nicholas Lim Jun Kai.




EARLIER IN 2016: Minister says 'ejaculate', thanks to rapey NUS freshman orientation games

Monday, 15 April 2019

Waiting game: Buying Avengers Endgame tickets made me question the meaning of life



There comes a time for everyone when you question the point of it all.

Why are you doing this? Is this what life is about?

For me, that happened last Wednesday morning as I stared at the queue number on my computer screen, waiting to buy tickets for Avengers: Endgame on the Shaw Theatres website.



The screen said: “Your estimated wait time is: more than one hour.”

Nothing to be done.

I wanted Imax 3D tickets, which you can get only at Shaw, but like the Avengers in Infinity War, it looked like I was going to fail.

Deciding that it’s better to have non-Imax 3D tickets than no tickets at all, I tried the other cinema chains.

But I couldn’t get into the Cathay Cineplexes website because Thanos had apparently snapped its servers to oblivion too.

After a few attempts, I was relieved to be able to get good seats on the Golden Village website – until I tried to pay. My credit card payment couldn’t be processed.

GV raised my hopes only to turn them to dust like the Mad Titan. At least on the Cathay website, the death was instant. This was crueler.

It’s too much for one man.

On the other hand, what’s the good of losing heart now, that’s what I say.

As a last resort, I tried the website of We Cinemas, (a misnomer since it has just one cinema in Clementi albeit with multiple halls) and managed to book two opening-day tickets.

The seats are terrible though – three rows from the front and to the side. My neck is going to hurt after the three-hour movie.

At least whatever happens, I will be watching Avengers: Endgame on opening day, just maybe not in Imax 3D.

People ask, why must you watch the movie on the first day?

Some fans say it’s to avoid spoilers because if you see the movie before other people do, other people can’t spoil it for you and as we all know, hell is other people.

But honestly, it’s because I just can’t wait.

Like the hardy souls in the queue for A&W at Jewel Changi Airport, I would rather wait in line for hours than wait for the hype to inevitably fade when there will be no more queues.



Remember the long lines for Wendy’s in 2009 when it too returned to Singapore after a long absence like A&W?

Well, the queues for Wendy’s are gone – and so is Wendy’s. And it wasn’t even Thanos’ fault.



And even though I already got my We Cinemas tickets, ultimately, the endgame was still Imax 3D.

I could just sell my extra tickets on Carousell and maybe even make a profit.



Like the Avengers, I wasn’t giving up – yet.

But as I sat there counting down the minutes in the online queue for the Shaw website, I felt like I was watching my life tick away as well.

I wondered if it was really worth it.

Why was I doing this? Was this what life is about?

In an instant, all will vanish and we'll be alone once more in the midst of nothingness.

After three hours, the screen said: “Your estimated wait time is: less than one minute.”

Hallelujah!

More than one minute later, it said the same thing.

Fake news!

In the time it took for me to get the tickets, I could’ve watched the whole goddamned movie.

Minutes later, I was re-directed to the Avengers: Endgame ticketing page.

My patience had been rewarded! I rejoiced.

Then…

Nothing happens.

I couldn’t click on anything.

At least the Cathay website didn’t string you along for “more than an hour” before hanging. It disappointed you right away.

Shaw made sure you suffered first.

Astronomers were taking pictures of me because I was in a black hole where time had no meaning.



Like the search party for the runaway bull in Lim Chu Kang, I finally gave up.

And thus ended one of the most existentially stressful mornings of my life and I’ve flown on Scoot before.

I later bought 3D tickets from GV and this time, the payment went through. No Imax but close enough.

Anybody want two tickets to watch Avengers: Endgame at 11.05am on April 24 in Clementi?

Is $500 too much to ask?

Great seats.

- Published in The New Paper, 15 April 2019





Monday, 1 April 2019

Gojek viral video saga vol. 2: 'Don’t make your problem to be my problem!'

Last week, Gojek announced that it is improving the welfare of its Singapore drivers by introducing a benefits programme called GoalBetter, which includes fuel rebates and prolonged medical leave insurance.

Just in time too because one Gojek driver who seems to really need improved welfare is Mr Aaron Heng, the social media villain of the week.



Remember the Gojek “kidnapping” video two months ago? This is like the sequel but with new characters. So maybe it should be called a “reboot” instead?

Anyway, the premise and format is the same. The driver fears the passenger is accusing him of cheating. So to protect himself, he records a vertical video of his interaction with the passenger and it goes viral.

This could be a new TV reality anthology series called Singapore Gojek Story or The Gojek Zone. Jordan Peele could host it.



The first episode is obviously called “Is it because I’m Chinese?”

The second episode can be called “I’m not a millionaire like you”.

The stars of this episode are Mr Heng and an elderly couple he picked up.

Once again, the video starts in medias res, meaning in the middle of the story, so you’re not shown what led up to the events in the video.

It appears that when the passenger made the booking, he thought the fare was $14.10, but after getting into Mr Heng’s car, he learnt it was $21.10 on Mr Heng’s app.

So Mr Heng pulled his car over as the passenger called Gojek for clarification.

Meanwhile, Mr Heng was unhappy that he was accused of overcharging and kept interjecting while the passenger was on the phone.

The driver said: “$7 you want to make an issue? You waste my time. Eh! You’re driving Mercedes one, is it?”

The passenger replied: “That’s none of your bloody business, please.”

The word “bloody” apparently got Mr Heng even more triggered. He told the passenger: “Please talk to me with respect.”

Probably because Mr Heng picked up the couple at a country club, he said, apropos of nothing: “I’m not a millionaire like you.”

A theme emerged when he later added: “I’m driving to earn the incentive, you know that? I don’t earn $2,000 a day, you know? The incentive is only $205 for your info, you know?”

The passenger eventually agreed to pay the $21 and said he would sort it out with Gojek later. Mr Heng was not happy about that either.

He said: “You know why? Because if you sort out with Gojek, Gojek will minus out the $7 from my account. Let me put it clear to you, anything it becomes driver problem. Always driver’s problem. That is the problem.”

“Then that is something you got to sort out with Gojek,” said the passenger.

The 6-minute plus video ends after the couple manage to convince Mr Heng to continue driving.



Like the Gojek “kidnap” video, Mr Heng’s video went viral. Unlike the earlier video, which garnered much support for the driver, Mr Heng’s video did the opposite.

Someone commented on Facebook: “Evil. No good heart! After all can talk nicely n be patient to settle but not act like hooligans lah. Completely a low-class driver!”

It wouldn’t be a surprise if someone threatened to egg him.

On Saturday, Mr Heng apologised on Facebook:
Hi. I am the driver in this video. I'm drive as a Private Hire Driver to earn a honest living to provide for my family. I've tried my hands in seeking other employment opportunity but to no avail.

I want to say I've got nothing against the elderly especially the poor and the aged. In fact, I just posted a post on how an elderly offered to buy a meal for a wheelchair person and I even went up offering to pay for his meal. They were like us and one day we will be like them. That's why I believe in helping them out if I can.

Story is like this. I picked this couple from a country club to his destination. Normally I would confirm with the rider on his destination and the amount to pay and to our surprise, we found out that there was a price discrepancy. I then told the rider that it showed $21.10 on my app while he said that he has to pay $14.10 although he refused to show me his app saying $14.10 (I asked couple of times). He suddenly got irritated and asked me to alight him immediately. For his own safety, I told him it's dangerous to abruptly stop in the middle of the road like that but he went on insisting to alight him. I obliged.

I managed to find a small road to enter to stop by the side wanting to alight him and to call GoJek to ask for instructions. I openly notified the couple that I am doing a recording just in case I am accused of overcharging the couple. I cannot afford to lose this job. I've mouths to feed.

Why I behave in such a manner is because I was accused of overcharging the passenger. I did not. It is the system. And what I said in the video was to say that I am just trying to hit my incentives as the fares are already low. The pressure is immense. The terms are challenging. I'm facing a lot of stress to meet the targets.

Lastly, I want to apologise for my behaviour as shown in the video as time is precious to us as a private hirer driver. I was unnecessarily rude. I was not respectful. I did not explain myself clearly. I pray for a chance to make good.

But his apology was about as well received as a rat in a Teochew restaurant.

One person commented: “What’s the point of coming up with this sob story? You are sorry cos u got caught.”

Mr Heng’s Facebook page is no longer available.

But here’s the big twist.

On Saturday, Mr Heng also made a police report. In it, he said that he sent the video to a WhatsApp group “asking for advice” and named the people in the chat group.



He seems to be implying that someone in the group made the video public, not him. This despite him telling the passenger in the video: “I’ll make it (the video) very big. Trust me, brother.”

Gojek has since said that the company looked into the case and had resolved the matter between the driver and his passengers.

By the way, under the company’s new GoalBetter programme, drivers who use their DBS or POSB debit cards to pay for fuel will also get a $7.50 weekly rebate if they spend at least $180 a week.

That’s how you can get your $7 back right there.

- Published in The New Paper, 1 April 2019



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