Retired poly lecturer admits inciting violence

Retiree Tang Koon Huat, 63, posted racially offensive barbs, calling on vigilantes to beat up a Briton.
Retiree Tang Koon Huat, 63, posted racially offensive barbs, calling on vigilantes to beat up a Briton.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

He asked others via Facebook to beat up Brit in road rage case

A retired Singapore Polytechnic lecturer yesterday pleaded guilty to inciting violence, via a Facebook page he had created while pretending to be someone else.

On the Act For Singapore (AFS) Facebook page he created in 2014 under the name Emett Haqq, Tang Koon Huat posted racially offensive barbs calling on vigilantes to beat up a Briton who had been convicted over a road rage incident.

On Jan 14 last year, Mr Alan Benjamin Maybury had been given the maximum $5,000 fine for punching a teenage driver. Later that day, Tang posted on the page, writing that it was time to form a "Singaporean vigilante group to go to beat up troublesome" Caucasians in the drinking joints. "Teach these bumps (sic) a lesson," he added.

Tang, now 63 and retired, pleaded guilty yesterday to one of two charges of communicating an electronic record containing an incitement to violence.

Mr Maybury, 35, had hit 19-year-old polytechnic student Lum Kwok Weng after an accident on Nov 30, 2014, at around 1.30am.

Mr Lum had lost control of his car as he navigated a bend in South Buona Vista Road, resulting in a head-on collision with a taxi.

Mr Maybury, a former consultant, was in the taxi with his wife on their way home.

Mr Maybury, who had two glasses of champagne at a friend's house earlier, got out of the taxi and shouted an expletive at Mr Lum before punching him in the face.

Tang was angered that Mr Maybury was given only a fine. In the post, Tang had contrasted how three local men were charged with "murder" of a drunk American and a further four charged with rioting during a brawl in Circular Road on Dec 24.

Following a report lodged by a member of the public on Jan 19, police identified Tang as the "true face" behind Emett Haqq and arrested him on April 15 last year.

During investigation, he admitted he had created the AFS page because of his negative perceptions of the influx of foreigners and the declining population of "native Singaporeans".

Tang's lawyer, Mr Alfred Dodwell, asked for time to prepare a submission on sentencing, arguing that the case would have an important and profound effect on freedom of speech and postings on social media.

He is asking that a fine be imposed on his client, who is "extremely remorseful" for what he has done.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sanjiv Vaswani said the prosecution will provide written submissions.

He is seeking a three-month sentence as a "starting point", saying there are no extenuating factors to depart from this.

District Judge Mathew Joseph adjourned the matter to May 16 for mitigation and sentencing.

The maximum penalty for the offence is five years' jail and a fine.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2017, with the headline 'Retired poly lecturer admits inciting violence'. Print Edition | Subscribe