Madrasah students in alleged attack are 'calm'

Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Tan and Dr Fatimah (both MPs for Marine Parade GRC) visiting the three students, and staff at Madrasah Al-Maarif Al-Islamiah yesterday. The students were allegedly attacked in separate incidents last week by a
Minister for Social and Family Development Mr Tan and Dr Fatimah (both MPs for Marine Parade GRC) visiting the three students, and staff at Madrasah Al-Maarif Al-Islamiah yesterday. The students were allegedly attacked in separate incidents last week by a man who has since been charged in court. PHOTO: TAN CHUAN-JIN/FACEBOOK

The three female madrasah students who were allegedly attacked last week are "very steady and calm", said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan- Jin yesterday in a Facebook post.

He visited the three students and staff at Madrasah Al-Maarif Al-Islamiah yesterday morning with Dr Fatimah Lateef, a Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC, where the full-time Islamic religious school is located.

Mr Tan said the three students were "smiling as we chatted".

"They understood the circumstances surrounding the incident and that the police would be investigating thoroughly. There would probably be a mental health assessment as well," wrote Mr Tan, who is also an MP for Marine Parade GRC. "We encouraged the girls to speak up and approach their teachers if they need help," he said, adding that the madrasah's management and teachers have been very understanding and supportive.

Security officer Koh Weng Onn, 48, had allegedly attacked the three students, aged 14 to 16, in separate incidents near Paya Lebar MRT station last Friday. Koh was arrested the next day and charged on Monday in what court papers say was a "racially aggravated" act.

In the first charge, Koh is accused of hurting a 16-year-old teen by kicking her on the right thigh along Paya Lebar Road at 7.22am last Friday .

In the second charge, he is said to have swung a plastic bag containing a filled 1.5-litre water bottle at a 14-year-old girl as she was walking along the footpath.

The third charge accuses him of hurting another 14-year-old girl on an escalator at 7.24am at the Paya Lebar Circle Line MRT station.

The attacks prompted government and community leaders of all races to stress that racially motivated acts of violence will not be condoned.

Last Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said: "As a society, we should stand together against all forms of violence against innocent persons, especially if there may be racial or religious undertones."

Koh has been remanded for psychiatric observation until the next mention of the case on April 18.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2016, with the headline 'Madrasah students in alleged attack are 'calm''. Print Edition | Subscribe