SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore (NUS) has taken disciplinary action against undergraduate scholarship holder Sun Xu, the Chinese national who came under fire in February for making offensive remarks about Singaporeans online.Mr Sun, who is a Ministry of Education scholarship holder, was fined S$3,000 and has to fulfil three months of community service before Sun Xu is allowed to graduate.
Mr Sun Xu will also be graduating later. The final-year mechanical engineering student would have graduated in June this year. As part of his penalties, Sun Xu must take on an additional semester and will now graduate in February next year. Mr Sun Xu will also need to pay for the additional semester.
His undergraduate scholarship benefits for the final semester have also been terminated, and Sun Xu has to pay back S$8,200 for his current semester’s scholarship benefits which had been disbursed.Under the terms of the scholarship, the 25-year-old undergraduate is required to work in a Singapore-based company for six years. NUS said the full length of service obligation still applies.
NUS Provost Tan Eng Chye, in a circular to students, said Mr Sun Xu’s remarks were “improper, insensitive and disrespectful to the community”.Mr Sun Xu’s remarks, posted on Chinese social networking site “Ren Ren” last month, had caused a public outcry.
He wrote that “there are more dogs than humans in Singapore”, describing how some people would stare at him after Sun Xu brushed against them in public.The remarks went viral.
The comments have since been taken down and Mr Sun Xu has apologised.In reaching its decision, the NUS Board of Discipline said Mr Sun Xu’s remarks had stirred up considerable unease, distrust and ill-will in the community.It said the penalties dealt are meant to send a clear and strong signal that the university does not condone such action.
While anger over Mr Sun Xu’s remarks lingers on, many like Mr Lim Biow Chuan have also said it is time to move on.Mr Lim, the chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Education, said: “He’s just a student, at the end of the day. So we should accept the apology, accept the punishment that has been issued by NUS and then we should all move on.”
Mr Sun Xu’s fellow students said they hope the undergraduate has learnt from his mistakes.”Whatever kind of punishment that is given to him is fine, because what’s most important is Sun Xu must learn to speak wisely,” said a student.”Since social media is a public environment, I think he should be more careful with his words, instead of commenting on anything that he wants,” said another.
Mr Sun Xu said he accepted the decision of the NUS Board of Discipline. Posting a message on his profile page of “Ren Ren”, Mr Sun Xu said the last month “has been filled with great regrets and remorse”.Writing in both English and Chinese, Sun Xu said his comments were disrespectful and inappropriate, and that Sun Xu was very sorry for making those comments.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) which administered Sun Xu’s scholarship, has already passed the ‘baton’ over to NUS, saying that its scholarship administrators will “take reference from findings of disciplinary proceedings by the National University of Singapore (NUS), where Mr Sun is studying, before recommending what action to take.”
Since Sun Xu was not expelled from NUS, Sun Xu was naturally able to retain his MOE scholarship. Under the terms of the scholarship, it is ‘automatically’ terminated once the holder ceases to be a student of the university he/she is enrolled in.
Born to a wealthy and influential family in the affluent city of Suzhou, Jiangsu province, Sun Xu first came to Singapore in 2006 on a MOE scholarship to study in River Valley High School after which Sun Xu went on to study at Raffles Junior College and NUS where Sun Xu majored in Mechanical Engineering.
Unlike other students born in Singapore, Sun Xu did not have to pay a SINGLE CENT for his education in Singapore from secondary school all the way to university.