Ngee Ann Poly tried to locate 2017 complaint about lecturer Tan Boon Lee's Islamophobic comments

It will make all feedback channels more visible and resolve gaps in dealing with external feedback.

Belmont Lay | June 17, 2021, 02:44 PM

Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) is in the midst of firing its senior lecturer Tan Boon Lee, who made racist comments to a couple he did not know while out on the streets, and allegedly did so a few years ago in class.

In a public statement put up on Facebook on June 17, NP said in its update that it has officially charged the staff in question for serious breach of the institution's Staff Code of Conduct, and is proceeding to terminate his service.

Ex-student's claim

NP also revealed it has completed its internal investigations on the lecturer and had tried to locate the 2017 feedback a former student said she provided to complain about Tan's conduct in class, where he allegedly made Islamophobic comments.

According to the alumnus, she alleged that she had provided feedback about Tan's conduct back then while still in the polytechnic but nothing came out of it.

NP tried to find feedback

In its latest post, NP said it sought to find out why the alumnus' feedback was not acted upon back then, and combed through archives to locate the it.

According to NP's post, the alumnus said she could not remember if she provided the feedback during a post-course focus group discussion or via email.

NP wrote:

As part of our investigations, we also wanted to understand why our alumna’s feedback had not been acted upon, to tighten our feedback processes and ensure that gaps and areas of improvement are duly addressed. In our conversation with her, she indicated that she could not recall whether she had emailed her feedback on the incident or raised it during a post-course focus group discussion (FGD) in 2017. FGDs are typically held at the end of every semester to seek students’ feedback on courses and lecturers.

NP also said the feedback could not be found despite trying to find it: "We have conducted a search of our various feedback channels, and worked with our alumna for her to check her NP mailbox archives, but have not been able to locate any records of the feedback."

NP to make feedback channels more prominent

However, as part of tightening its feedback processes and as an outcome of the investigations, NP said it is "committed to preventing a similar incident from occurring again".

The polytechnic pledged to make feedback channels more prominent, and advise its staff on managing and reporting feedback they receive, even those that are provided externally.

"Nonetheless, we are committed to preventing a similar incident from occurring again, and will ensure that students are made aware of the appropriate channels for them to provide feedback in a safe manner. We will also advise our staff on how to manage and report feedback that they may receive outside of these channels, as appropriate."

Anonymous whistleblowing channel available

NP also highlighted that it has an anonymous whistleblowing email feedback channel, [email protected], for students.

NP wrote: "We would like to assure students that all feedback will be taken seriously and handled in confidence."

Feedback on teaching to be reviewed

The polytechnic also said it will work to address shortcomings in class.

The polytechnic added: "We will review our internal feedback monitoring processes to identify and resolve any gaps in teaching and learning practices and to ensure that matters of concern can be flagged in a timely manner."

Both incidents involving Tan are under police investigations.