Night Owl Cinematics' Sylvia Chan says sorry for 'harsh' language after being accused of bullying

Night Owl Cinematics' co-founder and chief executive officer Sylvia Chan apologised in a statement released on Oc 13.
Night Owl Cinematics' co-founder and chief executive officer Sylvia Chan apologised in a statement released on Oc 13.PHOTO: SYLSYLNOC/INSTAGRAM

SINGAPORE - Night Owl Cinematics' (NOC) co-founder and chief executive Sylvia Chan has responded to anonymous accusations that she verbally abused and bullied her employees, fostering an unhealthy work culture at the YouTube outfit.

The 33-year-old apologised in a statement released on Wednesday (Oct 13) and acknowledged that she "did not live up to the standards expected of (her)".  She will also be removed from NOC’s line-up of artistes.

She said: "Upon reflection, my expressions may have been harsh. However, it was never my intention to upset anyone. I will learn to be more conscious about my choice of words. Moving forward, I can and I will do better."

Chan added that her "biggest shame" was failing to provide a safe space for people to give feedback.

"I always thought that a leader should be tough and I now realise that I may have come on too strong and people have now perceived me to be unkind and rude."

She hoped audiences would continue to support the work of the NOC team. "I am saddened if the good character and excellent work of my teams are now being undermined by my past actions."

Anonymous Instagram account @sgcickenrice posted two weeks ago text messages and audio recordings allegedly of Chan scolding her employees using vulgar language. She also purportedly referred to one of NOC's on-screen talents Samantha Tan using expletives.

In her statement, Chan explained that Tan had taken part in a reality competition organised by NOC, in which the grand prize was a full-time contract with the company. Tan eventually won the competition, but Chan found out that she would not be able to sign the contract as she had an existing three-year bond with a government agency.

Chan admitted: "I vented to my colleagues behind the scenes in private conversations with them."

But she added that she and Tan have since made peace on the issue. When contacted by The Straits Times, Tan declined to comment.

In a series of Instagram stories posted late on Wednesday night, Tan refuted Chan's versions of events, saying that she had informed NOC of her existing three-year bond before filming for the reality show began. She added that eight contestants, including her, signed a full-time contract before filming began.

NOC had previously released a statement on Instagram, calling the allegations a "massive crusade against the public image and reputation of NOC and its employees". It said the posts "cherry-picked abstract communications between private individuals carefully showcased to paint a wholly negative picture".

The media production company runs one of Singapore's largest YouTube channels, which has more than one million subscribers. It is known for its lifestyle content, comedy sketches and series such as Food King.

NOC was started by Chan and her ex-husband Ryan Tan in 2013. The two finalised their divorce last year.

In response to ST's queries, Tan said he would not comment as he resigned as director of NOC earlier this year and is no longer involved in its management. He continues to appear in and produce videos on the NOC channel.

Student Joel Foo, 16, who has watched NOC on and off for about six years, says he will continue to support the channel.

"While Sylvia is a co-founder, the YouTube channel is a team effort. I won't dismiss the whole of NOC because of these allegations. And I won't stop watching the channel just because of this incident."