KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 ― Singapore Education Minister Heng Swee Keat has described the behaviour of Malaysian sex blogger Alvin Tan, who is a scholarship student in the republic, as “reprehensible and unbecoming of a scholar”, the island state’s Straits Times newspaper reported today.
Heng was responding in Singapore’s Parliament to MPs who demanded to know what punishment had been meted out by the National University of Singapore (NUS) to Tan.
NUS has drawn public ire for its refusal to disclose how it is punishing the sex-blogging Malaysian scholar whom it found guilty of damaging its reputation.
Tan, the 24-year-old Asean scholar studying law at NUS, is at the centre of a controversy after he and his girlfriend posted in a joint blog photographs and videos of themselves having sex. He had been hauled up for disciplinary action last month.
Both sides have kept their lips tightly zipped over Tan’s punishment, with the university saying matters relating to disciplinary proceedings are confidential.
Singapore citizens, however, feel otherwise; nine out of 10 university students polled by the Straits Times newspaper saying NUS should be upfront about punishment.
Speaking in Parliament today, Heng was responding to questions from four MPs stood to ask if the Singapore Education Ministry would be asking the school to make public the punishment that it has decided on, the newspaper reported.
The MPs ― Lim Biow Chuan, Intan Azura Mokhtar, Yee Jenn Jong and Pritam Singh ― all argued that the punishments should be made known in the name of transparency.
The minister stopped short of saying what the punishment was or if the student had his scholarship terminated, the newspaper reported.
However, he said he was confident NUS took the matter seriously and would do the right thing.
Tan, a final-year law student, had apologised to NUS for “bringing disrepute” to the school but has insisted that what he did was done in his “own personal time as a private individual and not an NUS student”.
He also maintained that his action was a “victimless crime” and did not harm anyone.
The NUS student had said explicit photos and videos of himself and his girlfriend, Vivian Lee, going viral were “exciting”, according to Yahoo! Singapore.
On the site “Sumptuous Erotica”, Tan and Lee said they loved posting details of their sex life on the web “for everyone to enjoy” and that they uploaded only self-made content.
The blog has since been taken down.
Tan went to Singapore under an ASEAN scholarship in 2004 and attended Xinmin Secondary School and Raffles Junior College before he went to NUS.
He is based in Kuala Lumpur, where he has an online business. His mother helps to run a family business, while his father works in sales.
The couple also faces the possibility of criminal prosecution and jail time if convicted for exhibiting obscene material after they posted photographs and videos of themselves having sex on their blog.
Malaysian Police Commercial Crimes chief Datuk Syed Ismail Syed Azizan said recently that the authorities were considering taking action against the duo for violation of obscenity laws.
Under Section 292 of the Penal Code, the couple could be prosecuted for exhibiting obscene material.
The punishment under the law is imprisonment for a term of up to three years or a fine.