NUS fines scholar for 'dogs' comment

The National University of Singapore (NUS) has taken disciplinary action against the Chinese student who created a furore last month when he posted offensive remarks about Singaporeans online.

A Board of Discipline, comprising senior academics and representatives of the NUS Students' Union, slapped a $3,000 fine on Mr Sun Xu, 25, a final-year mechanical-engineering student.

He was also ordered to serve three months of community service - details of which will be made known to him in due course - in order to graduate.

An NUS spokesman said in a reply to my paper: "We trust that the community-service attachment will enable Mr Sun to gain a deeper understanding of the Singaporean community."

The disciplinary action comes almost two weeks after Mr Sun was first called up by the board.

In an e-mail message to students sent yesterday, NUS' deputy president of academic affairs and provost, Professor Tan Eng Chye, said the penalties meted out had been decided upon after "careful consideration", following Mr Sun's "improper, insensitive and disrespectful" remarks.

The university also informed him that his undergraduate scholarship benefits have been terminated for his final semester as a result. This is because his "behaviour was unbecoming of a scholarship holder".

Mr Sun is also required to pay back about $8,200 for the first tranche of this semester's scholarship benefits, which had been disbursed to him, said the NUS spokesman.

Each undergraduate scholarship, which covers school fees and accommodation, is worth between $18,000 and $25,000 annually.

Under the terms of Mr Sun's undergraduate scholarship - which is administered by the university - he is required to work in a Singapore-based company for up to six years.

"The full length of service obligation still applies to Mr Sun," added the spokesman.

Prof Tan explained that the remarks "had also stirred up considerable unease, distrust and ill-will within and beyond the university community".

He said: "This incident is a regrettable one, but it serves to remind us of the conduct we collectively expect all members of this community to uphold."

On Feb 18, Mr Sun made an online post on his Weibo account about his unpleasant experiences with Singaporean "uncles".

He had written: "The most annoying thing in Singapore are those 'uncles' who stare at you, or complain endlessly when you accidentally brush past them."

In the same post, he added that there were "more dogs than humans in Singapore".

The post quickly went viral and raised the ire of netizens, who called for his Ministry of Education (MOE) scholarship to be revoked and for his expulsion from NUS.

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