SINGAPORE - London's Metropolitan Police have released images of four men who allegedly assaulted Singaporean student Jonathan Mok in a coronavirus-related racist attack on Feb 24.
The police have yet to make any arrests, but said in a statement on Wednesday (March 4) that they are trying to identify and speak to the four men pictured.
Detective Sergeant Emma Kirby, the officer on the case, said the police are "committed to finding the perpetrators", noting that "there's no room on our streets for this kind of violent behaviour".
Mr Mok, 23, had opened up about the attack, which took place in Oxford Street near the London Underground's Tottenham Court Road train station, on Tuesday on Facebook.
The law student at University College London said he heard a group of young people say "coronavirus" as he walked past them at about 9.15pm.
When he turned around to face the group, he was punched in the face, with one of the suspects saying "I don't want your coronavirus in my country" before the group fled.
The Metropolitan Police in London told The Straits Times on Tuesday that they are investigating a "racially aggravated assault" in which a 23-year-old man was "punched and sustained facial injuries", referring to Mr Mok without naming him.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Singapore High Commission in London said the assault was perpetrated by “abhorrent elements” that exist in every society.
It said it is “deeply disturbed” and recognised the “broader implications” of the attack given the “large student and Singaporean community” in Britain.
It is currently working with the Metropolitan Police, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Home Office on the incident, and said it will ensure that the Metropolitan Police “follow through with their investigation with the utmost priority”.
“(We) do not believe that the assault reflects the majority view of the British people in particular towards Singapore, given the close and special relationship between the UK and Singapore,” the High Commission added.
Since the onset of Covid-19 – the disease caused by the coronavirus which broke out late last year in China – ethnic Chinese students have reported an increase in cases of discrimination overseas.
Some have said they are shunned in public spaces just for wearing face masks, while others said they have had to bear the brunt of virus-related jokes among their peers.
In more serious cases, these confrontations become physical.
Mr Mok said of his post, which has since garnered more than 65,000 reactions and 40,000 shares: “Race issues have been prevalent for so long and this shows how dangerous they can be... Even when they start off verbally, they can escalate to physical violence.”
According to Chinese evening daily Shin Min Daily News, Mr Mok will undergo facial surgery on Wednesday. His parents will also visit him in London.