Ex-NMP steps down from NUS alumni advisory board

Former Nominated MP Viswa Sadasivan has stepped down as a member of the National University of Singapore Alumni Advisory Board. This comes after two women, including stand-up comedian Sharul Channa (right), made allegations of sexual harassment against him.

Talk show host and former Nominated MP Viswa Sadasivan has stepped down as a member of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Alumni Advisory Board.

This comes after allegations of sexual harassment made against him by two women.

In an e-mail to its alumni yesterday evening, the university's Office of Alumni Relations said it would discontinue all projects with him and his communications consultancy firm, Strategic Moves.

The NUS statement said this was in the light of the allegations made by stand-up comedian Sharul Channa and doctoral researcher Kiran Kandade against Mr Viswa.

NUS said that "the university does not condone any behaviour or action that is disrespectful and disparaging of individuals, regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion or age". It added that the incident between Mr Viswa and Ms Sharul took place during the online interview series, Inconvenient Questions.

The series is a collaboration between Strategic Moves and the National University of Singapore Society - a graduate club and registered society that is a separate and independent entity from NUS.

Before interviewing Ms Sharul online about her profession and work on women's issues, Mr Viswa, 61, allegedly asked why she was wearing a rose brooch.

Ms Sharul, 34, had replied that she was just putting it on "to distract from the pattern on my top".

She claimed the presenter then said: "It would be more distracting if you were wearing only that rose."

The incident was first raised by Ms Sharul in a Feb 4 Facebook post.

Ms Kiran, 60, told The Sunday Times last night that she had received sexually inappropriate text messages from Mr Viswa about five years ago, while discussing work matters.

When contacted, Mr Viswa said he had discussed the termination of commercial contracts with NUS president Tan Eng Chye, with both parties agreeing it was best "to disengage given the controversy".

Yesterday afternoon, Mr Viswa e-mailed Professor Tan about his decision to step down as a member of the alumni advisory board after serving for about 15 years.

Said Mr Viswa: "I didn't want my alma mater, the president and senior members of management, as well as the alumni advisory board members, to suffer collateral damage. The controversy I am in had nothing directly to do with NUS.

"I want to be sensitive to the fact that NUS has been trying its best to manage the sexual misconduct cases on campus. It has not been an easy stretch for the university. I don't wish to add to it."

Ms Sharul applauded NUS for taking a stand. She told The Sunday Times: "When I first came out on social media to speak about the incident, my intention was not for him to lose his position but to inform that this behaviour is wrong."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 21, 2021, with the headline Ex-NMP steps down from NUS alumni advisory board. Subscribe