Abusive boss caught on video admits to assault

Lee Yew Nam, 44, boss of Encore eServices, had no permanent employees apart from his wife. He instead hired interns from universities and polytechnics, the court heard.
Lee Yew Nam, 44, boss of Encore eServices, had no permanent employees apart from his wife. He instead hired interns from universities and polytechnics, the court heard.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Clip of him punching and slapping employee caused public uproar after it appeared online

An IT company manager yesterday admitted an assault on an employee which caused a public uproar when a clip of it taken by a colleague was posted on YouTube.

Lee Yew Nam, 44, boss of Encore eServices, pleaded guilty to four charges of voluntarily causing hurt to Mr Calvin Chan Meng Hock, 31, at the company's Jurong Town Hall Road office.

Other than his wife, Lee did not have any permanent employees, and instead hired interns from universities and polytechnics, the court heard.

In May 2010, Mr Chan started a six-month internship at Encore. He was paid $500 a month and when that ended, he continued in the job for the same wage. His duties included fixing customers' problems and configuring software.

Investigations revealed that Lee would sometimes physically assault Mr Chan for making mistakes and scold him with vulgarities.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Ong said that some time in January 2013, Lee felt Mr Chan had not arranged the software files in the computer neatly and slapped him.

The following month, Lee accused Mr Chan of failing to answer a customer's request correctly, then punched him in the face several times and pushed him off a chair.

On May 14 that year, Mr Chan and another intern, Mr Amos Yeo, 25, were in the office when Lee reprimanded the former for failing to delete some files in the database as he had been told.

When Mr Chan said he had forgotten, Lee grabbed his chin and pulled it back with force, saying: "Look carefully again, go through the folders and delete all the files that need to be deleted. Remember not to do this again."

The next day, Lee checked the victim's conversation logs with a customer and felt he had failed to perform his work satisfactorily.

When Mr Chan could not give a satisfactory explanation, Lee became increasingly agitated and shouted at him before punching him in the head.

Mr Yeo immediately stood up and told Lee to calm down, but Lee continued to scold Mr Chan before slapping him in the face three times.

Mr Yeo captured the incident on video on his mobile phone.

Lee, represented by Mr Sunil Sudheesan and Ms Diana Ngiam, will return to court on Sept 14. He faces a jail term of up to two years and/or a fine.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2015, with the headline 'Abusive boss caught on video admits to assault'. Print Edition | Subscribe