In a heartfelt post, former Shuqun principal speaks out against online criticism of 'bullying' incident captured in viral video

"The circle time in the picture was taken on the FIRST DAY after all of them returned to school", said Mr Chia.
"The circle time in the picture was taken on the FIRST DAY after all of them returned to school", said Mr Chia.PHOTO: HAI SIANG CHIA/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE -The former principal of Shuqun Secondary School, where three boys were captured on a viral video in an apparent bullying incident, has spoken out against the online criticism directed at the school and the "bully".

In a lengthy Facebook post, Mr Chia Hai Siang, who announced that he is leaving the education service in the post, shared a photo of the three boys and said that they had become friends again the first day they returned to school after the "bullying incident".

He wrote: "The circle time in the picture was taken on the FIRST DAY after all of them returned to school. The 'bully' apologised in person and in writing to both victims and to the class. Both victims forgave him and they were friends again within two hours."

In September last year, a 52-second video showing a boy from the school hitting the heads of two other boys repeatedly went viral.

It was reported that the two boys who were hit made police reports, and many who shared the video online criticised the school.

He added that the boys were dealt with according to school rules and all the parents involved were satisfied with the actions of the school.

 

Mr Chia, who was principal of Shuqun from 2012 to 2015, pointed out that he was not leaving due to the incident. He had decided to further his studies before the incident happened.

He also shared that the boys and their classmates volunteered to bake brownies and make drinks for visitors during the school's open house in November to help repair the damage they caused to the school's reputation.

"I am very proud of them," Mr Chia wrote.

He then derided the "sensationalised" reporting of the incident. "Many people who know the truth of the events in my school have asked me why I did not respond more actively to the various reports on the Internet when the incident happened.

"My answer - I did not want to feed the ongoing media frenzy and help viral irresponsible articles that were being put out by my comments," he said.

These reports, he said, might have fed some of the extreme online vitriol.

"These included many threats by netizens such as 'If I see the boy, I will bash his skull in', 'Let me give him a taste of his own medicine'... There were false accusations of gang connections and that the boy was a copulsive bully," Mr Chia wrote.

He then recounted how a student had asked how the online criticism directed at the school was also bullying. "I had no answer for her," he wrote in the post which he hashtagged #howisthisnotbullying.

Mr Chia also pointed out some details that were not reported in the media, including the fact that neither victim told the school or their parents about the incident until the video was posted on the Internet one weekend after.

He said both the victims wrote to him to say that they felt sorry for their friend who was 'bullying' them, and the mother of one of the victims withdrew the police report her son made two weeks later as she was satisfied with the school's handling of the incident.

He also clarified that the video was posted by a "a school leaver from another school who posted it on a gaming site at 9am on a school day".

The post has been shared more than 2,000 times since it was posted on Friday (Jan 1) morning.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu shared the post and said: "Many thoughtful and heartfelt reflections worth our consideration. All of us users of social media have a responsibility to other users, in what we Like and Share and in our comments."