Following the sexual misconduct incident involving two NUS students that created diverse public reactions all over Singapore, Ms. Kethlyn Gayatiri Koh’s April 22 FB post additionally inflamed the already scorching topic.
In her extensive post, Kethlyn Gayatiri Koh underscored how after Ms Baey came forward with her story, there was an immediate surge of judgments and opinions siding with her, calling for more ruthless penalties and demanding a complete ‘overhaul’ of NUS policies. In the said post, she likewise noted the many internet vigilantes who started digging up similar incidents taking place inside NUS and began naming and shaming Nicholas, including his girlfriend and their families.
Ms Koh began by illustrating the mob mentality and stressed the importance of verifying facts before “going on a social media rampage.” She made clear though that she was never impliying that Baey’s story was fabricated, she only warned others against the risk of a “wildfire” that could potentially get out of hand:
“But what if it really was? Would anyone have been able to tame the wildfire? Before NUS could have responded, internet vigilantes had already began digging out information about Nicholas and his loved ones, and blasting them all over the internet. How much damage would that have caused them?” Ms. Koh lamented.
Contrary to what most people thought, Ms. Koh commended Baey for her courage in going out in the open and in speaking out. However, she was also extremely disappointed in the manner that people have reacted by shaming Nicholas, saying that his conduct only made it worse for people around him.
“We are basically aunties on the “orh hor” bandwagon who name and shame.” On the view that there needs to be stiffer penalties and more cruel punishments for sexual offences, Koh asked: “How much is enough?”
“We smack him on the knuckles with a feather duster, then we put his name all over the internet, then we make him lose his job. When is it enough? Do we stop when he commits suicide?”
She also questioned how we are supposed to quantify sexual offences and decide what is an appropriate punishment for it.
A more significant point which Ms. Koh brought to light was the fact that this is not the first case of a sexual offences in NUS — a phenomenon that reflects a more profound problem, and additional questions — Why is this still happening? And how do we proceed from here?
Ms. Koh in her justification post wrote:
“Ask yourself why did Nicholas commit such an act? Ask yourself what have we been doing in schools, at home, and in our community, that have encouraged such behaviour/ could stop such behaviour from manifesting?…”
“Is it fair for them to also have their faces and information planted all over the internet? How will they ever move on from this? Shouldn’t we as a community help them through? What about the other offenders? Have we scared them off? What about those who actually need help? Will they be too scared to come forward?”
Thus, Ms. Koh reiterated that there is an urgent necessity for people to take a step back and look beyond “(tearing) each other down.”
Ms. Koh’s post which ignited the recent ruckus can be read online from this link (https://www.facebook.com/kethlyn.koh/posts/10157345485589244) including the negative remarks that the post elicited.
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