A Radiographer nursing staff [Facebook nickname “Edz Ello”] of Singapore’s Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) posted inflammatory threats to “kick out Singaporeans” and “prayed (wished) for Singaporean deaths” on his Facebook has been placed on administrative duties, pending police investigations. The Hospital decision apparently ignored a pattern of similar derogatory anti-Singapore remarks on his Facebook.
Pending the outcome of a purported Police investigations, the Standard HRM practice is to suspend the staff and bar his presence from the Hospital for up to 7 days (as allowed by labour laws) while convening a separate Internal Inquiry which would carry out a forensic analysis of his work station, including official and personal computers, personal papers, case files, as well as conduct interviews of co-workers and friends. Any past incidents should be flagged eg. Mails, posts, graffiti and quarrels involving Singaporean patients, co-workers, visitors and vendors should be re-examined. Should he be deem a flight risk, the Police should detain him under protective custody and/or retain his passport.
While on suspension, the Staff could prepare and collect whatever evidence to support his purported defense [“Someone hacked his Facebook account”]. Given the pattern of similar derogatory anti-Singapore remarks on his Facebook, his defense seemed incredulous. Nonetheless, the Staff is entitled to due process in Singapore where we apply the Rule of Law even for the more hardened social and criminal offender.
It is a Major Mistake to allow the Staff to return to the workplace amidst the negative publicity against him, and to provide him opportunities for the possible tampering or removal of evidence against him and/or threaten co-workers and other persons against incriminating him.
Furthermore, the words specifically used on his Facebook, and previous postings, [“pray(ing) for “disastors” to strike Singapore and wants to see more Singaporeans die”], if indeed attributed to him, would clearly make him a potential danger to hundreds of Singaporean TTSH staff, Singaporean patients as well as thousands of Singaporean visitors to TTSH daily.
It is a monumental lapse of leadership judgment to allow the Staff to be in the Hospital, to continue dealing with Singaporeans whom his words [if attributable] had so murderously directed at, before the final determination of the threat assessment that he posed to public safety and security, especially to the Hospital patients, staff and visitors.
As Singapore’s Top Communicable Disease Center, TTSH should know that a contagion MUST be quarantined and contained. Suspending and Barring the Staff from the Hospital where he could pose a danger to others, and also for his own safety, would not violate any of his civil and due process rights.
This is a straight-forward human resource and national security problem.
At worst, we have discovered a potential serial killer who harbours murderous thoughts for the deaths of all Singaporeans. Government professional Psychologists should study his pattern of derogatory remarks to ascertain whether his intentions have been escalating towards eventual actual action. At best, the Staff was merely suffering from a mental defect or disease resulting from prolonged working in Singapore far from home. If the former, the Police would deal with him accordingly since our Penal Code Law (s506) has already provided for prosecuting the offence of criminal intimidation with fines and/or prison terms from 2 to 7 years depending on the circumstances.
Should, in the end, the Staff be diagnosed with a mental defect or illness against Singaporeans and all things Singapore, the solution would be even simpler. Just remove him like a virus from the environment that “caused” or “feed” his affliction – Singapore. The obvious solution then is to deport the Staff and bar him from entering Singapore for his own mental health recovery.
TTSH as a highly respectable public healthcare institution should have managed the case in a more professional and serious manner instead of merely transferring the Staff to administrative duties (seriously?) and allowing him to walk freely around the Hospital as a potential danger to patients, staff and the public who are Singaporeans.
This commentary was written by Michael Heng.
Send us your commentaries at firstname.lastname@example.org