Cyberbullying in NUS

Comments (76)
  1. Benjamin Seet says:

    “Distance encourages perspective” is just code for avoiding involvement. And contains within it the claim to the right to talk down to those who (unlike the distant ‘academic’ voice) have a first person experience of their situation.

  2. Jun Sheng says:

    Choon Hwee, the amount of moral (self) righteousness you have appropriated for the purposes of this article deeply unsettles me. While it is entirely your right to deny the value of or to refuse to participate in constructive discourse, I think it is completely misguided – malicious even – to misrepresent many of the individuals whom you have cited here.

    To start off does not constitute ‘bullying’ for one to assess the facts of the situation and to dish it -as it is-. I find it incredibly problematic that you think that “(to be of the opinion that) writing style, not content, is more important when raising serious socioeconomic issues.” is constitutive of anything that remotely resembles bullying. The fact is that the way in which your previous article and Keira’s account approached (or claimed to approach) ‘socioeconomic issues’ left a bad taste in many people’s mouths and they told you as such. The least you could do, even if you dismiss the validity of this (entirely legitimate) feedback, is to at least represent them with accuracy and integrity.

    I will at least acknowledge that some of the comments that hint at violence are probably excessive. Nevertheless, I still take issue with how you have conflated both sorts of comments (the reasoned, civil, well-argued ones, along with the ones of the ‘rasengan’ variety) by equating both of them to this nebulous, monolithic non-sin that is bullying.

    I am not going to mince my words. I think that you owe many people an apology, though, of course you may, as you have been wont to do, ignore what I have suggested and choose to be victimised again.

    1. michelle says:

      Slapping a different title on people’s behaviour doesn’t make what has transpired any more acceptable. Sure, it may not be bullying per se, but it’s definitely not the way to be a decent human being.

    2. Wy says:

      I don’t see how “[leaving] a bad taste in many people’s mouths” is considered a reasonable discourse. It lacks critical thinking and self-reflexivity in that the reader did not assess what constitute the distastes, but instead intuitively jumped on Keira’s writing style. Sure, she may not have written the best verses ever, but that doesn’t invalidate her thesis that the USP in its current form marginalizes a particular group.

      I suggest you read up on the politics of disgust.

    3. Jun Sheng says:

      Then you agree, that the writer here has accused individuals of bullying when they, in fact, have not.

      I also think that we probably have varying ideas of what it means to be a ‘decent’ human being. I don’t think that the idea of ‘decency’ precludes objective critique.

    4. michelle says:

      I agree that it is not ‘bullying’ in its truest sense, i.e. making threats. etc., but it is still bullying to a certain extent. I don’t see how making jokes and nasty remarks about Keira’s intellect and calling her stupid cannot be considered bullying. Semantics aside, as previously mentioned, the comments are equally unpleasant whether or not they are labelled as constituting bullying.

      Sure, we may disagree on what it means to be ‘decent’ overall, but I think one universal baseline is to respond in a courteous manner, no? You may certainly place objective critique above decency, if you wish, but don’t expect people to take your critique seriously if you don’t take yourself seriously enough to be constructive about it. And above all else, it is not this so called ‘objective critique’ that is the issue here, it is the fact that it was wholly unnecessary to be rude to Keira in the first place.

    5. Wy says:

      Maybe we need to reconceptualize “bullying.

      Some of them were clearly trolling by focusing on the supposed lack of intelligence. ‘Critiquing” her (lack of) style over substance is a fallacy on 2 fronts – the readers did not critically engage the content of the articles, and instead fell on the fallacy themselves using superfluous language to insinuate the author’s “stupidity.” It suggests that they couldn’t find fault with the arguments but were nevertheless unhappy with the article, and hence resorted to ad hominem attacks.

      Other’s were perhaps more in the grey zone e.g. pointing out that style may be just as important if not more at times, and then augment the claim with examples. But it slips when one points that out only to say that therefore an author without the necessary style is stupid. That’s a tautology and it’s bullying masked behind the fake air of objective critique.

      It’s not objectivity per se to comment on ppl’s intelligence like that. In fact, it’s highly subjective since that judgment is made in comparison to oneself/ others.

      I think everyone owes everyone an apology here.

    6. Trollapore says:

      “you bully me! i complain to teacher”

      “who say i bully u? i nehhhver..i only giving u “objective critique” .. say sorry!”

      ahh, the primary school days..

      grow up, younglings of singapore

  3. Jonathan Chua says:

    I salute your courage and guts in writing this article. I think this is an insightful article that needed to be written – albeit a little late, considering the time that has lapsed since the death rattle sounded on the whole issue.

  4. laurence says:

    Dude, you should have xiaxue-d them

  5. JT says:

    I am deeply disappointed to be seeing this kinda behaviour coming from anyone.

    You would think that higher education makes better persons out of ourselves, but truth of the matter is, the mean and unnecessary comments completely disprove that.

    I honestly do not believe that any kind of situation justifies that kinda response. I read the articles. They don’t seem incendiary in any way at all. Even if it were, it’s one thing to hate, it’s another to retaliate. Posting up comments like this show a huge amount of insensitivity and lack of maturity from the students.

    1. laurence says:

      what to do? this is the future of singapore, elite uncaring faces who think that they know it all, but are severely out of touch from anyone

  6. moniza says:

    The biggest issue people had with the original article was your horribly condescending tone. Spelling it out for you right here because it seems you didn’t quite get that from the previous backlash. We took issue with the fact that you chose to present Keira like a tragic victim-figure you were fighting a cause for (in fact, you’re still doing the same thing) rather than an actual person who was your equal in every way regardless of her socioeconomic status. Your tone made people intensely uncomfortable and some of us reacted to it with irony and humour on a PRIVATE facebook group. And you seem to think Keira should be above reproach, possibly because you have decided she is a Cause rather than an intelligent human being capable of defending her views and her articles. Her article was badly-written and in some ways ridiculous and I see no reason why readers shouldn’t be allowed to react it.

    1. Benjamin Seet says:

      in what way is it badly written, and in what way is it ridiculous?

    2. fallingsky says:

      Sure, let’s react to someone’s article by mocking them in the Facebook group she is in and let its effects spill into real life too. Nothing wrong with that.

    3. michelle says:

      When a Facebook group has 700+ members, the notion of ‘privacy’ becomes a bit of a moot point, don’t you think? It’s fine to disagree with someone’s point of view, but that doesn’t make it okay to mock them for having that viewpoint. The fact is, the retaliatory comments were not constructive or remotely helpful in any way, shape or form, and frankly, reflect terribly on those that made them.

      Regarding Keira, I find it hard to fathom in what other way the issue could have been brought up, other than the way it has been. Keira is NOT your equal in terms of her socioeconomic status and that’s the truth. This was what she was getting at in the article and trying to bring attention to. Some people need more help than others, and USP should take that into account.

      Granted, her English was not perfect, and her views not always perfectly phrased, but on the whole, it was not a shockingly terrible, incomprehensible article and definitely did not warrant the type of reaction it got. Yes, you can react if you disagree, but some ways to do so are more constructive than others. This is not one of those cases.

    4. Jun Sheng says:

      To begin with, it is entirely USP’s prerogative to NOT extend financial aid if they don’t want to. I don’t understand why people think it is their god-given right to have access to everything. Some programmes are costly and thus only benefit the more affluent; that’s just life.

      I find it particularly disingenuous how Choon Hwee et al have latched on like a rebel without a cause, especially considering how financial aid is one of the top priorities being discussed on USP’s agenda, a fact that is conspicuously missing from ALL of her articles.

      This shouldn’t have to mean anything but for what it’s worth, there are many, many people who come from backgrounds as humble as (if not -more- humble than) Keira’s and Choon Hwee’s. I don’t come from a particularly affluent background myself either. In fact I was taking on 5 part time jobs at one point of time to diminish the financial load on my parents. This does not magically entitle me to wilfully misrepresent a programme that I have been a beneficiary of.

    5. Trollapore says:

      Something up ure butt moniza? Get a job.

  7. Jamie Thong says:

    As a USP alumni, I am deeply disappointed by the caliber of the people writing the facebook comments. So what if they found the article condescending or not to their liking? We’re supposed to have learnt how to respond to articles we disagree with appropriately in Writing Class. All I see is immaturity from the responses. You don’t agree with the article? GOOD! Go write a proper rebuttal/response/refutation without resorting to nastiness, ad hominems or the like, or focusing entirely on things like the writing style.

    So these comments were on a private Facebook group, so what? Do these people then only act morally, uprightly and conscientiously when people are watching, and descend into viciousness in private? That is merely hypocrisy. If this is the quality of USP students nowadays, the program is in for sad days ahead. USP students, I am disappointed. You do not live up to the name and reputation we have built.

  8. ivor says:

    Despite how unhelpful and not-very-well-thought Keria’s article was, there was, and is never a need, to flame another human being in that manner. Shouldn’t the focus be critiquing the article itself? Sandwiching valid criticism with sarcasm and complaints is as ineffective as pointless grievance-ridden articles.

  9. Jun Sheng says:

    Ivor, I believe that critiquing the article was precisely what most of the dissenters (of aforementioned article) set out to do.

    Jamie – 1. I don’t see what’s wrong with choosing to focus on writing style when style informs the manner in which the message of the article is conveyed and, consequently, whether the article is received in a constructive or a combative manner. 2. I fail to see how any of the article’s dissenters have been hypocritical. If anything, they have stood consistently by the basis of their criticisms. It is disappointing that KRC has chosen to simply dismiss them as bullies.

  10. melissa says:

    While your claims to some level of “cyber-bullying” may be valid, dismissing the entire debate over the original articles purely based on a frankly quite biased sampling of Facebook comments does not constitute sound journalis
    . The rapidity at which you slide down this slippery slope into criticising our entire education system smacks of unjustified hyperbole. You also forgot to mention how entirely unapologetic your so-called apology was. If you would be so kind as to screenshot that as well, maybe the readers of this site can actualy get a more balanced view and judge the issue for themselves, for once.

  11. UAlum says:

    What could have been a genuine intellectual debate around socioeconomic issues descended into petty attacks and meanspirited remarks. as a former usp student it makes me.cringe and reveals a lack of maturity and character in some respondents. do the silent majority agree with their classmates’ sentiments? I would have hoped for more reasoned and considerate responses.

    1. melissa says:

      As a current USP student, it makes me cringe and reveals a lack of maturity and character in many of the respondents to this article in that they are buying wholesale into a single point of view expressed with a very skewed use of data.

      The article itself cites the number of “likes” on a comment as proof that the USP community identified with and agreed with such comments. The maximum number of “likes” I’ve seen on the screencaps in this article is three. What the writer has so tactfully avoided are the well-thought out, reasonable comments also posted during the height of this debacle, that garnered as many as 20 “likes” or more. Which would be a better show of agreement from the USP community at large?

      I would have expected a more balanced response based on reliable (or even just -more- ) data from a USP alumnus. Maybe I expect too much.

    2. hilary says:

      I think most people are aware that the USP community isn’t a blackhole of rudeness and incivility. But in the context of this article alone, the comments showcased here are indeed appalling, and that is the issue for me, personally. While it is human nature to be nasty sometimes, there is a certain expectation that USP students don’t succumb to it I guess.

      Regarding context, after a bit of scouting around, I agree that it is lacking in some measure here.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Dear Choon Hwee,

    I’m not disagreeing that some of what was said was uncalled for, but my main issue(s) with this is/are:

    1) This discussion was literally months ago. Why are you still harping on this? If you felt so strongly, why didn’t you defend yourself directly, or even write this article back then? THIS HAPPENED AT THE BEGINNING OF LAST SEMESTER.

    2) Your article is just you, pointing out what a lot of USP students who defended you and Keira have already mentioned on the thread. There were a great many who defended you and Keira, but of course you failed to mention (save for the last paragraph where you try to redeem yourself after writing all that flak) that because you seem to only be interested in creating an article that puts USP in a bad light, a programme that, if I may mention, YOU CHOSE to be a part of, and are free to leave at any time if you are really so unhappy in it.

    3) A criticism of the KRC’s style of writing is not a personal attack. Perhaps there were many personal attacks on that thread, but this one isn’t. Instead of complaining about it on the KRC (which seems to have become your personal blog, in which case you have every right to write however you please), it would do the KRC some good to improve themselves in order to be taken more seriously so that people will be less critical in future.

    I am sorry for any ordeal that you or Keira have had to go through, and admittedly, I did feel very bad for both of you, as well as the KRC during that period, because some of the comments were indeed mean and uncalled for. But after reading this article, where you seem to just be continuously victimizing yourself at the expense of USP and its students, I think you’re on your own. If you put it online, you should be prepared for backlash. People can only support you for so long as you are rational and reasonable, and I think you have gone beyond that point in writing this article now, now when it is so long after the incident.

    1. Tan Xiang Yeow says:

      It’s not about dropping off because people are unhappy – how about trying to improve the situation? And these issues were raised through internal channels and are still relevant.

    2. Anonymous says:

      hello xiang yeow, in case you didn’t read my post thoroughly, i never mentioned about it being irrelevant. people seem to be completely ignoring the fact that choon hwee and keira are supposed members of USP, but instead of dealing with the problem directly, she chose to explode like a ticking time bomb. the situation can definitely be improved, but do you honestly think that it will be improved in this way?? i don’t understand how people can read this article and not think that it’s written out of childish spite and maliciousness.

      has choon hwee or keira or anyone else criticized EVER stepped forward to USP students directly to confront them about the situation? i think the answer is no. has she made the situation worse by writing this article? probably. many people are probably even angrier and less sympathetic to her case (such as myself). so ask yourself, does this really improve the situation?

    3. octopi says:

      “has choon hwee or keira or anyone else criticized EVER stepped forward to USP students directly to confront them about the situation?”

      I thought that posting asshole comments on Facebook was all about bashing people while avoiding the personal confrontation? So you expect to snipe away at people from the safety of your own home, and then expect them to come up to you and talk it over face to face?

  13. Liyan says:

    Anonymous: Duh, Choon Hwee is writing about now because she has said all this and more in private, through what they call “appropriate internal channels”. Nothing was done.

    Do you need to have a student commit suicide from bullying before someone can write about the issue?

    1. Anonymous says:

      see above. don’t get why you all are talking about me saying that she has no right to share what is supposedly private/internal channels. i never said anything like that. she totally has. if it’s online, it’s free for all to see.

  14. Jun Sheng says:

    Liyan, I think the problem lies in the fact that there wasn’t a lot of bullying to begin with, and that Choon Hwee has decided to publish an article that patently misleads the reader into believing that most, if not all, of the response (within the USP community) to Keira’s article was excessively malicious.

    If I harboured suicidal thoughts every time someone criticises my writing style I doubt I’d be here typing this response right now.

    1. Sarah says:

      @junsheng by saying “there wasn’t alot of bullying to begin with” does not apologize the fact that THERE WAS some sort of bullying done. And what constitutes “wasn’t alot” anyway?would you have preferred a public display of mental breakdown or even *shudder* a suicide attempt to materialize first before accepting how excessively malicious the comments have become?

    2. Chetan says:

      Jun Sheng, if you think that all those USP students accused of bullying were doing was criticizing Keira’s writing style, you have another thing coming. They were personally attacking her, her intelligence to be specific, and reveling in it. The student who defends him/herself after calling Kiera “hardly the brightest crayon in the box” makes it sound as if he is just criticizing her writing style (notice that he never actually claims to be doing so). But the difference between criticizing a person and criticizing his/her writing style is pretty damn obvious. If you say for example, that someone’s writing is dull, convoluted or poorly organised, you’re criticizing his/her writing style. But to say that someone is “not the brightest crayon in the box” is an attack of the person’s intelligence. So even if this student might have been motivated by Kiera’s supposedly poor writing style, his/her attack was on Kiera and not her writing style. So Jun Sheng (and Anonymous), stop claiming that this attack was just on the writing style of Kiera.

      I don’t see how this article “patently misleads the reader that most, if not all, of the response within the USP community…was excessively malicious”. Choon Hwee clearly stated that the cyber bullying was done only by a minority of USP students. That said, I will admit that the conduct of these malicious USP students is likely to reflect badly on the larger USP student body in the eyes of non-USP students and other readers. But this is different from readers being misled into thinking that virtually everyone in USP was maliciously attacking Kiera. Readers might simply come to believe that most other USP students, even if they did not attack Kiera, are elitist, arrogant and mean like the perpetrators here. This is the distinction between the two cases.

    3. Jun Sheng says:

      Why is it inherently wrong or bad to point out that someone ‘isn’t the brightest crayon’?

      Or perhaps you disagree with the very premise of free speech which legitimises what KRC has published to begin with?

      I apologise if this offends anybody but anybody who actually becomes suicidal because they have been criticised as such needs professional help of the psychiatric variety – and I say this seriously, without irony, because ‘not the brightest…’ is nothing compared to some of the stuff that anybody could reasonably be expected to have to deal with in the real world.

      The comments may not have been very nice but I don’t understand why anybody has any obligation to be ‘nice’ when the subject in question wrote an article, published in the public domain, and thus opened herself up to criticism.

      If anything, she needs to be held accountable for the amount of vitriol she has caused against USP which are 10 times worse than anything anybody has ever said about her.

      @chetan – just take a look at the sort of comments that are being made on Yahoo’s write up on this incident; now everybody seems to be under the idea that USP is a community of elitist, entitled, privileged, bratty scholars (of the money-receiving variety), which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    4. Emily says:

      I would like to second Chetan. I am a non-USP student, I did not think that most USP students are malicious after reading Choon Hwee’s article. Nor did I think that most USP students are elitist.

      Unfortunately, reading such unnecessarily defensive comments are not helping, and some of them are even leading me to wonder if some USP students are not only elitist, but also ableist and lacking in empathy. At this point, it is not the article that is giving me a bad image of USP students (and I say USP students here, not USP as a programme), but the comments. It is unfortunate that some of them only serve to prove the point that USP students are elitist, which is of course untrue.

      And yes, I did feel personally attacked by Keira’s comments in an earlier article about “elites”, having come from a well-ranked school and also a privileged family background. However, I do not think there is any reason to be so confrontational.

      I say this as someone who came from a school that was regularly slammed by the press as being “elitist”. Often, people would pick up just one instance of a student misbehaving in public and condemn the entire school based on that. I don’t remember my friends or I reacting with outrage at having been criticised.

      It is far more advisable to show people that you can do better than resort to confrontation, even in response to what one perceives (whether rightly or wrongly) as confrontation. In fact, I even remember our teachers warning us to be on our best behaviour at all times, especially because we were viewed to be “elite”! Privilege comes with responsibility, and we would do well to react calmly and charitably even when we feel that the institution we feel deeply for is (unjustly) attacked.

      Thankfully, I do know some USP students, and many of them are decent people. I think something one of my professors once told me is right: Sometimes, intelligence without empathy counts for very little.

    5. Lerh Feng says:

      Hi, USP alumni here. I’ll say first that I don’t – can’t, actually, since one of the original articles has been heavily edited – know enough context to take sides in this drama. I only just learned about this issue from another USP alumni. I’m about as neutral an observer as there is. I’ll say that reading this article and the comments posted has been … embarrassing.

      Jun sheng, true or not, your comments are malicious. Calling someone “not the brightest crayon in the box” is a more polite way of calling that someone an idiot. To be on the receiving end of that comment hurts. It may not hurt you, but it evidently hurt the authors of these articles. The fact that there are other people who also feel it’s bullying is further indication of this. Don’t bring up free speech. You are not free to say whatever you want. Free speech has its limits, e.g. slander is a crime. Just check out Wikipedia’s article on freedom of speech. I quote: “According to the Freedom Forum Organization, legal systems, and society at large, recognize limits on the freedom of speech, particularly when freedom of speech conflicts with other values or rights. Limitations to freedom of speech may follow the “harm principle” or the “offense principle”, for example in the case of pornography, religious belief or HATE SPEECH.”

      It’s obvious that you’ve offended people. If you cannot recognize that, you’re not the brightest crayon in the box either. You don’t have to be nice, but by not being nice you’re giving USP (and yourself) a bad name. I’ll say that as a neutral observer, I think your comments deserve more criticism than Keira’s and Choon Hwee’s relatively balanced articles. Yes, their articles are not neutral BUT they are more tacit.

      If you know enough about the nuances of English to criticize Keira’s and Choon Hwee’s writing style, you also know enough about English to phrase your criticism in a way that doesn’t offend people. If you claim Keira and Choon Hwee cannot take criticism, I’ll point out that thus far you haven’t exactly been a good at taking criticism either.

      I predict that five years down the road, you’ll look back at this episode and realize how juvenile you’ve been.

  15. Ng Xin Zhao says:

    Hey, if everyone just take a step back and laugh at themselves and at this issue, there’s no need to get upset or suffer from anything!

    What you wrote is not yourself, you don’t need to defend it. So Keira (if you’re reading this) and Choon Hwee, don’t be attached to whatever you wrote and the comments that accompanied the piece.

    Just let go and smile. That goes for all the readers who feel like they need to attack or defend the piece too. Don’t get attached to what you wrote.

  16. Anonymous2 says:

    Anonymous, muster some courage, reveal your name, and defend your points with your identity.

    find me irritating? well you are this irritatin as well.

  17. Joel Tan says:

    I think the real charge of bullying should be leveled at Koh Choon Hwee, author of this atrocious article. On a public space, she has published a biased and misinformed jeremiad. The agenda, to expose and shame, is spiteful. It is all the more contemptible because it masquerades as constructive criticism.

    The most problematic bullying tactic is how Choon Hwee makes several serious accusations about the directors and administrative staff of the USP. Choon Hwee didn’t see it sufficient to expose a remarkably tiny fraction of the comments from The Club, some of which aren’t even that problematic. Instead, she has taken this small body of information to construct a grand comment on the state of our education and, more disturbingly, to lambast the work ethic of USP Staff and Faculty. This is unconscionable.

    Her main problem with the USP stems from a strange assumption that in a University, Staff and Faculty need to be immediately available to provide “psychological comfort” to students. This is an unreasonable demand to begin with. To my mind, this kind of pastoral care is voluntary at best and shouldn’t, as it has in this article, be used as a measure of duty. This assumption has given Choon Hwee a way to name and shame staff and faculty in a way that I think constitutes bullying, since the accusations have spread much faster and loudly than those accused have been able to respond. Is her aim for the story to be picked up by the sterling national press? If so, and if her aim is fulfilled, then she really needs to consider how unfairly she has accused people of failing to meet expectations they were never asked to meet. I hope there’s a libel case in this, and yes, that is a malicious sentiment.

    Choon Hwee’s demand is even more unreasonable coming as it does on behalf of students who have consciously allowed themselves to be exposed to criticism, and whose principal engagements were with other students. This was a matter among students, one in which Choon Hwee tried to implicate the faculty. From the start, her strategy to agitate for change has been met with realistic responses from the faculty that the issue of funding and financial aid is a lot larger and more complex than warrants a complaint of the nature KRC published. Dissatisfied, rebuffed and rebuked, attempt at martyrdom failed, it seems Choon Hwee is back with a new mission, which is to burn everyone down with her.

    Choon Hwee supposes that, because the intent of the initial series of articles was to raise an important issue, she and Keira should have been shielded from the reaction to their poorly conceived and executed pieces by USP staff and faculty. Yet, popular sentiment aside, this can’t have been a matter for faculty nor staff intervention. The fact that Choon Hwee and Keira turned to faculty and staff for “psychological comfort” suggests that they were, in fact, turning to an Authority to squash the chattering of students in their private capacities. This is facile, authoritarian and yellow-bellied thinking. I wonder if Choon Hwee realises what a difficult position she has put the faculty and administrative staff of the USP in. Let’s make it clear: it’s not their responsibility to censor the Facebook activities of students. If she expects the USP to tolerate her unreasonable, poorly written and highly public shit-stirring about the programme on this sham of a website, then she shouldn’t expect them to be any less accommodating to students’s responses, whether they’re critical, supportive, vitriolic, reasoned or impassioned. These are the ways critical responses to ANY kind of writing have been for many years without accusations of amounting to bullying, and the fact that this charge is now being leveled suggests that it’s only because the term has gained currency.

    In the interest of transparency, and also to dispel any power Choon Hwee has over my views, I’m declaring here that I am the author of the comment which called the initial article “appalling” and “maudlin”. I still stand by those sentiments, and I refuse to see how they constitute bullying. I went on to elaborate on those views through a comments thread on this website, and my views were taken by Choon Hwee to be constructive enough to warrant a post announcing her relinquishing of her editorship of the KRC, and also the promise of an internal evaluation to improve the journalistic standards of this website. The fact that my comment is now being resurrected as an instance of cyber bullying makes me wonder if the KRC simply sees any kind of criticism as bullying. It certainly makes it clear to me that in the half a year since I wrote those comments, the KRC’s editorial and journalistic standards haven’t changed for the better.

    1. Qw says:

      Bravo! These are people who dare to speak but cannot stand being criticised, who thinks by voicing a demand the community should actively change in their favour, who undermines others’ effort to accommodate them. “I’ve already spoken out, what more do you want from me? What, to actually stand up for what I have spoken out for?”

    2. faeline says:

      And this is how things spiral out of hand.

      The article may not have been objective enough, too much of it drew on personal experiences, but it did attempt to illustrate how an under-privileged student have to struggle in order to fulfill what she wants.

      Perhaps the article should have been better thought through — an interview with a student on how the staying on campus would be better for the program. Highlighting points of aid and perhaps what would be lacking.

      But are the personal attacks on the person’s intellect warranted?

      Wouldn’t it be better to tell KRC how they can improve their articles so that they will improve from being “a sham of a website” to something worthy to the student community?

      This may not have been a case of cyberbullying as what the article implies. To me, this is a lack of respect for another person that is very prevalent currently in FB for some reason.

      Maybe that person has offended your good tastes and you feel that you have every right to insult them. But to stoop to that level doesn’t make you a better person in this whole argument.

    3. Calvin says:

      “Her main problem with the USP stems from a strange assumption that in a University, Staff and Faculty need to be immediately available to provide “psychological comfort” to students.”

      Dude, in which part of the essay did she state that the USP staff had to IMMEDIATELY make itself available to provide psychological comfort to students?

      Do quote it for the rest of us. =)

  18. Benjamin Seet says:

    hi guys, make love not war, through uplifting music.

  19. Benjamin Seet says:

    Let us not forget the need to treat others nicely. To quote Kant…

    “When we have to study a particular faculty of the human mind in
    its sources, its content, and its limits; then from the nature of
    human knowledge we must begin with its parts, with an accurate and complete exposition of them; complete, namely, so far as is possible
    in the present state of our knowledge of its elements. But there is
    another thing to be attended to which is of a more philosophical and
    architectonic character, namely, to grasp correctly the idea of the
    whole, and from thence to get a view of all those parts as mutually
    related by the aid of pure reason, and by means of their derivation
    from the concept of the whole. This is only possible through the
    most intimate acquaintance with the system; and those who find the
    first inquiry too troublesome, and do not think it worth their while
    to attain such an acquaintance, cannot reach the second stage, namely,
    the general view, which is a synthetical return to that which had
    previously been given analytically. It is no wonder then if they
    find inconsistencies everywhere, although the gaps which these
    indicate are not in the system itself, but in their own incoherent
    train of thought.”

  20. Sherwin L. says:

    My friend who lives in Cinnamon College said that she saw this article’s author, Koh Choon Hwee, manually set off the fire alarm one night in the residential college when the fire alarm at the neighboring college (Tembusu) went off, and that she looked hell-bent on venting her anger. It’s so scary. Why are crazy people like her, who clearly enjoy playing the victim card, allowed to write for a national university publication? Does anyone else think her agenda is less than transparent?

    Some reports say that Koh left the U.S.P., and now she’s railing against it with so much gusto. Did she get kicked out? Is this a case of sour grapes? Did her grades not make the cut? What has she got against the program, that it’s too elitist for her? Why did she join it in the first place when she knew what she was getting herself into, and why did she leave it eventually? What is she not telling us and what is she misrepresenting?

    I hope this does not encourage her to write another long sob story. We need greater integrity and honesty from writers who supposedly write for the school.

    1. Spectator says:

      stir ah stir

    2. Lpek says:

      Hmmm. I’ve heard about the fire alarm incident and there is a complicated but honest explanation and basically KCH was a fire warden, and hearing one alarm go off thought that the other should go off too (she did not know if it was a real or fake alarm) and so set the other one off. Doesn’t this sound rather logical as opposed to ‘venting her anger’ (which could be done in a large variety of ways)?
      Secondly, I know for a fact that her grades have always been stellar, so no, it is not a question of sour grapes. She has also in the course of her life been part of the best ‘elite’ programs that Singapore has to offer, so don’t you worry your little head about her inability to live up to the USP program.

      Let’s analyse the situation with a little good faith here: perhaps KCH joined the program because it seemed like a good thing, because she liked the programs that it offered, and enjoyed the company of the students in it with her (logical, valid reasons for one to join a program such as USP, no?) Perhaps after a few years, she noticed increasing problems that despite being given feedback for through internal channels were not being treated. Perhaps this growing dissatisfaction found an outlet in a public domain (i.e. here) thinking that change could finally be provoked.
      Do you see what I am trying to say? Where is the dishonesty in this?
      Perhaps we could say that she did not, contrary to what she thought at the time, necessarily advance the cause in the most efficient/effective way. But the greatest accusation you could make is that of misguided altriusm if you want, and not that of having some personal, nefarious agenda.
      Does it make you feel good to see the worst in everyone? To assume that anytime someone makes a mistake it must absolutely, undisputably, inevitably be intentional? Life is a little greyer and sadder that way, isn’t it?

  21. Anonymous says:

    I think this should call as “Cyber-bully IN USP” rather than in NUS. This whole thing is within the USP students group only. In fact, this is USP itself problem and not the rest of NUS students’ problem.

  22. The Club says:

    all you people trying to defend yourselves. it seems very pathetic, that what you’re trying to defend is a community that breeds people who insist that they come from a morally higher ground; an intolerance for opposition, with so much intellectual snobbery that good arguments have been forsaken for good english, and good english being a ticket to the sister online community fka(seriously), a highly secret group that encourages people to practise ‘free speech’, whilst antagonising people behind their backs and having a good laugh. highly elitist, totally disgusting. it may be private, but things said on such private groups encourages behvaiour in real life that is arrogant, bitchy, and snobish.

    1. Jun Sheng says:

      I’m not sure how anyone is demonstrating any ‘intolerance for opposition’ or ‘antagonising people behind their backs’ when most of the people you are talking about have been open with their criticism, and have consistently stood by their opinions.

      But it’s always quite easy to hurl random baseless accusations when you are hiding behind the veil of anonymity, isn’t it?

  23. Spectator says:

    And this saga goes viral!!

    Watch it get drowned by the chants of how all these is linked to the PAP and their elite uncaring faces.

    *slow clap*

  24. fallingsky says:

    Hurray, let’s declare an act of wrongdoing void because the victim did something wrong too.

    I’m thoroughly surprised that the general line of defence employed is as stated above. It IS bullying, no two ways about it. True, financial aid ought to be a privilege than a right, but that isn’t one of the first responses. Personal, irrelevant and non-constructive arguments (if you can even call it ‘arguments’…) are levelled against the victims.

    You can’t call that an argument or a criticism. It is an attack. Different people have different tolerances to attacks (please do note the plurality), and sustained efforts by… certain commenters here to enforce an impression that the victims need to visit a psychiatrist are utterly simultaneously amusing and saddening.

  25. The Club says:

    then i dare you, mr foo, to reveal the dark and disgusting place of The Club and fka(seriously), and show how elitist and uncaring some people are.

    btw, criticising and standing by your arguments counts for nothing, when it represents mere desperate attempts to hide a certain hypocrisy, which can easily be seen through once these so called ‘private groups’ are revealed for all to see.

    and theres nothing wrong with anonymity, seeing that anonymous remains anonymous, fallingsky, and spectator have been allowed to post.

  26. Alumnus says:

    I certainly hope the piddling fools squabbling over this issue are not representative of the larger NUS community. I will have serious reservations about Annual Giving if this is the quality of present NUS undergraduates. The extent of self-entitlement from both camps is off-putting.

  27. Jun Sheng says:

    I don’t know why The Club is suddenly accused of being hypocritical when no one is attempting, necessarily, to sugarcoat any of their comments.

    I also don’t understand why some individuals assume that criticism is mutually exclusive from empathy when it has been made patently clear (or perhaps it hasn’t, given how KRC has omitted this information from its coverage) that many of the dissenters come from the same underprivileged background as Keira does.

    At any rate, it seems like I am flogging a dead horse here, so I will stop commenting here.

    To “The Club” and “Anonymous” – it would be nice (sincerely, not snarkily) if I knew who you guys actually were so we could perhaps have a more cordial discussion about this in person. I understand that it is always easy to get carried away with the amount of polarising, emotive rhetoric being thrown around here, and the fact that the internet as a medium makes it a lot harder for people to sound reasonable, and as far as it is possible, it would be great if we could avoid that.

    But I do urge, respectfully, everyone to get a clearer, more holistic picture of the situation first before jumping to conclusions. Clearly I (and some other of The Club’s defenders) have been perceived to be defensive, combative, etc. I apologise for that.

  28. Xavier says:

    There is an important question that we have to ask. The first is does Choon Hwee really harbour ill thoughts about USP? I am very interested to know. That is because this will definitely skew whatever she has written in favour of finding fault with the USP body.

    I find the whole saga of Keira’s case disturbing. It has shown that the seeds of far left thinking have just started to take root in NUS. The university is not in the business of equalizing life opportunities just because somebody is unable to afford, or because he or she comes from a more unfortunate background. That would be practising affirmative action. And that has been widely practised in the US universities. As a result, the quality of the faculty over at US has dropped steadily because there are mandatory quotas for Hispanics, Blacks, and woman to fill. In other words, admissions are no longer judged by the actual capabilities which allow them to perform their work efficiently, but according to the “unfair” circumstances they have been dealt in life.

    Although Keira could be well qualified for USP, it does not automatically imply that USP has the moral obligation to pay for her school fees through subsidies. The money has to come from somewhere else (elaborated:

    On a side note, Yale happens to be an institution with a far left world view. Expect more of such issues to come when they arrive on campus. Expect more concessions to be made on tenuous grounds of discrimination, in terms of student admissions and faculty tenure appointments. Expect to learn the vocabulary of political correctness.

  29. Sherwin L. says:

    Those ppl kicking up the fuss can afford to grow a pair of balls each lah. How is this bullying? They’re all ADULTS. If they can’t even take criticism, no matter how it is phrased, for what and how they write as 20+ year olds, and how they portray themselves in their writing, then they’re weak (OH IS THIS BULLYING TOO BY CALLING THEM WEAK?

    It’s time to GET REAL. The adult world is tough. Can’t handle being called dumb? Then start showing other people some sign of intelligence instead of crying and organizing a pity party. Can’t handle being laughed at for cringeworthy writing? Then start writing better, instead of producing tabloid cock and bull stories. This has been blown out of proportion by really insecure people seeking wider validation (aided by a terrible online organization that thinks this standard of reporting makes for good “campus journalism”).

    The self-fashioned sob story underdogs will not quit until the whole world reorientates to make them the undisputed victors. Tough luck. It’s not gonna happen. Slumdog Millionaire is so last decade. University and adulthood are so much bigger than this. Move on, and move it along.

    1. Lerh Feng says:

      Do you have any experience in the adult world, or are you making these claims from the sheltered confines of student life?

    2. Chetan says:

      What are you on about? How does the fact that they are adults change whether this counts as bullying or not? Bullying is not something that only children or teens can experience. If you want to dispute the definition of the term, then no problem, no need to call it bullying. Call it verbalabuse instead. Its still wrong. There was malicious intent to harm the victims here. And thats the key element that makes it an instance of bullying (check any major site like the APA if your mind is still mired in incredulity). So how strong or weak someone is is irrelevant. The number of testicles you have doesn’t make any difference here.

      And what’s all this about the adult world being tough? Yes, yes we all know about how tough the adult world is. We read the papers and watch the news. But that doesn’t mean that we should therefore condone the nasty aspects of it.

      Choon Hwee and Kiera never wrote with the kind of malice and aggressiveness that you and numerous others from USP have written in response to them. So if you’re claim is that people in the adult will reciprocate nastiness with nastiness, then its irrelevant. And since it you and the other USP students who are resorting to viscious attacks as a way to deal with the criticism Choon Hwee and Kiera have made, it looks like you are the ones who are having trouble dealing with it. As per your own advice, maybe its you lot that should grow a pair.

    3. BShigure says:


      I have been working since my secondary school days. I’ve seen more crap from bosses and colleagues than you can possibly imagine. The adult world you’re talking about is tough, no doubt, and there will be such cases. But let me tell you that in the real working world, the people who constantly step on others to get ahead will always find themselves in trouble with the bosses.

      And if you had analysed the article, you would have noted the personal attack citing that Keira isn’t the brightest crayon in the box, among other insults such as implying that she’s got the same level of intelligence as Naruto.

      And there are people who will ensure that these bullies will receive their just reward if they do not repent.

  30. faeline says:

    Some of the comments here really needs to be set in perspective.

    (1) The essence of constructive criticism, and the lack thereof in the comments in FB.

    One of the comments said that the article needs to be “good” in order to be taken seriously. If such a requirement has been placed on the article, the comment needs to be taken with the same scale as well. However, the comment merely described how “appalling” the article is, without providing some constructive ideas on how the writer can improve it. Instead, demeaning comments were made on how self-masturbatory KRC was.

    Criticism without thought is one of the biggest problems I see around FB. The comment of dissent tends to draw attention, and with the rebellious mood going around SG, it appears to draw supporters more often than not. Comments made for the “lulz” are thrown around without thought of the recipient. I fear, consideration, has been eaten up somewhere between our modem to the internet world.

    (2) The pedestal of the privilege

    Not many people realise that we stand from the pedestal of the privilege. We may not act on this privilege, we may not even WANT this privilege, but we do need to realise that we have the privilege.

    There are the affluent that will never understand that what the middle income group go through. There are the middle income group that will never understand what the low income group go through. In a broader spectrum, the Chinese in SG will never understand what the minority group in SG faces.

    Personally, I doubt I will ever be able to understand the experiences of those who are under privilege.

    Hence, when we stand forth on this pedestal laughing at this girl who has to juggle home finances, school and any other personal issues, we are being the ignorant here. There are other people in SG who never had the opportunity to do things that we take for granted.

    Do not even try to know every single detail of another person’s circumstances and judge them according to your circumstances. This is pretentious.

    (3) The elitism of meritocracy

    It’s an epidemic of elitism in SG. There had been so many times I’ve come face to face with people who believe that they are better than another person simply because they are “smarter”.

    Academics is not the only measure of a person. The character, belief and moralities are what that gives the person his worth.

    And I’ll say that those who hold their elitist attitudes are the ignorant, the ones who do not see beyond their own hubris.

    What is wrong with respecting a person as a person, without using any gauge of measurement?

    (4) The victim blaming

    “Manning up” / “Suck it up” is usually a comment being thrown at the victim for standing up. This is also bullying — the comment insinuates that the inconsiderate comments are normal and the victim is merely too sensitive.

    Remember when you were a child, and bullied in school, and if you told the teacher, you’re a wuss? That’s bullying. Putting that into this context, the victim tried to voice out and is now told to “suck it up”.

    Oh yes, you would say this is the real world and if you’re too weak, you’ll be swallowed whole. Then in this case, you are the one who goes with the flow, and part of the problem (i.e. you’ll swallow people whole too!). I don’t think I need to explain how wrong this is, and how wrong this implies in our society. Empathy isn’t really that hard people.

    (5) The real world

    If you’re still in NUS, you ain’t even near there yet. Don’t pretend that you know how it’s like until you’re like 60 years old and telling stories to your grand children, assuming you want any.

    1. faeline says:

      I’d also want to add that cyberbullying should not be a term used easily. Most of the negative comments featured are about 4 likes or so, does it construe as cyberbullying?

      Even though thoughtless comments and insults are not to be encouraged, meaningless usage of cyberbullying only serves as sensationalising.

      I’d suggest that KRC reach out to the individuals instead to resolve this, instead of posting it up as a case of cyberbullying. An article on how this is resolved / an improvement or followup on the previous article would have been a better idea as opposed to posting up offending FB comments.

      A personal touch goes a long way.

  31. Dickson Yeo says:

    The lack of empathy, self reflection and the grandiose sense of entitlement in these comments is staggering.

    As a 31 year old alumni and working person, lets just say that if I read all of these comments and recognized you lot, there will be no jobs open to you. You can’t even agree to disagree without resorting to jargon. And honestly speaking, I have no idea how you’d react to much more extreme situations overseas when people with even less cultural or class affinity, are cheek by jowl with you.

    Have your parents sent you to school so that YOU WON’T GROW UP?

    And oh yah, I paid for school myself, all the way

  32. BShigure says:

    I like how one of the insults likened her to Naruto. If you are a fan of the series, you’d realize that Naruto has an often misunderstood intellect that allows him to mold a lesson to his understanding (in an unorthodox manner) to extract the fullest potential from it, and then apply it to achieve greater success that even a genius.

    So great job, nut jobs, in comparing Keira to Naruto. Your trolling level is “nooblet”.

    And for those saying that this doesn’t constitute bullying? So what? Can you justify mental anguish? When people are affected psychologically do you think that they will notice the positive statements supporting them?

    Even if you’re academically brilliant, you’re nothing if you cannot understand (in general) what humans need to feel like they belong with the living.

  33. Manimaran says:

    As an NUS alumnus, I am disappointed with the adverse comments of the minority on Keira’s article. Their comments reflects poorly on the way NUS selects students for the USP.

    On the other hand, I am heartened by the supportive comments of the majority on Keira’s article and the stand taken on the personal attacks and innuendos against Keira.

    Some people think that the use of bombastic language equals scholarship. I do not agree. Scholarship is the ability to discern the grain amidst the chaff (if there is chaff). That, is the hallmark of intelligence and scholarship.

    I agree with Kiera’s situation and empathise with her plight. NUS was clearly wrong in failing to provide financial assistance to USP scholars who may be financially disadvantaged by its changes to the USP and especially so, in respect of scholars already in the USP.

    There was a comment that NUS is not in the business of equalising life opportunities. Well, that is incorrect. NUS is not a private institution for the elite, the rich or the influential.

    It is public institution funded by the tax-payers and its alumni. The NUS alumni therefore expects NUS to be an equal opportunity institution for all Singaporeans irrespective of their financial background and the alumni will be greatly surprised if this is not so. The only discrimination permitted in NUS is that based on merit.

  34. zihua says:

    This is truly sad. The barrage of distasteful facebook comments, whether or not is balanced content-wise by uplifting comments, is an apt reflection of much harshness in Singapore. And now it pervades a place lauded for its nurturing environment. At some point the intelligent discourse stops. Some opinions– if necessary to be expressed–are better left exchanged face-to-face, which should push us into a basic sense of consideration during personal confrontation. Courtesy, as pointed out by Prof Richardson, has lost its shine today. But it’s so important now in this age of intolerance! Not just in recognising the value of each human being, but also in creating and generating values–in people and opinions alike.

    When I met CH some time back she told me she needed to write this, felt that it’s her responsibility to do so even though she knows it puts her in danger of such malicious attacks. She wants to speak up about the gaps in financial assistance, but she needed time to mull over it, and let those bad sentiments from the first bout of articles to blow over, at least relatively. The attacks on Keira and her over the semester gave her plenty of new insights about people and the system. I’m sure we’re seeing it too. I wonder if we are learning from it.

    Perhaps the injustice she felt from receiving so much malice and accusations when her initial intentions meant no ill-gains showed through her writings. To be the subject of talk, much less verbal/cyber abuse is not the lightest emotional burden to carry. To add to the weight, I know her not to be a detached, insensitive, uncaring person. She probably feels a lot for Keira, maybe even feels partially responsible for the attacks on her. I should think the first ordeal made her quite upset, and from this point she wrote, in the most objective manner she could muster while fighting for her cause. Journalism will always be biased anyway, but i do think she had tried her best in letting readers know that she was not raging blindly against the entire USP population or its program. And with regard to the brunt of her criticism, especially the admin and academic staff (which in my opinion was rather brutal and perhaps unnecessary), I will just have to think she was very frustrated, after having tried many ways to make the situation better for someone she cares strongly for. A frustrated person can take some pretty extreme measures.

    Maybe it’ll help with a little more empathy. It’s almost impossible to compare who has it harder in life, and never easy to decide what kind of rights we’re obligated to. Must we draw up a contract for every single thing just so people can be civil to one another?

  35. Anon says:

    Speaking of “The Club!”. Apparently this was posted sometime ago. Read into it what you will.

    (dated October 2011)

    Dear All,

    I would like to apologize for the insensitivity displayed by recent articles on kentridgecommon towards the USP community. This has been a humbling experience which has revealed my utter ignorance about the USP community as well as the developments within it prior to the move from Block ADM to UTown via forums and other platforms. I had not been actively engaged with or involved in campus stuffs in my first two years prior to going on exchange, and as newcomers to an already-existing debate I really should have taken the care and time to find out from others the nature and history of this issue. But as it was I did not know that there was one, and my awareness to the new USP application rules (specifically the 2-year compulsory residency) was prompted only by my recent friendship with Keira.

    After the publication of my first article, (Will the USP turn into a middle-upper socioeconomic cluster?) I had heard from some that this issue had already been debated in previous forums, but again I did not take the initiative to find out more details. I also am not acquainted with many members within the USP community which resulted in my ignorance, really, of what would have been the main audience of krc articles on this very issue. This lack of understanding of the article(s)’ audience also caused me/our articles to display the insensitivity that I/they did.

    A feedback session with prof tan tai yong was then organized, on his impetus, in response to the first 2 articles on this issue and after that session a few of us felt frustrated at what I/we felt was a deadlock, and that frustration crystallized into the slew of 3 spontaneous, uncoordinated (I did not ask the authors to write them, but I certainly endorsed their publications when I read the drafts) articles which were published in quick succession on Saturday night. That, as well as other points raised by comments – what is the role of the so-called ‘editor’ at kentridgecommon then? Is that a misnomer considering the ‘free’ policy of krc? — revealed weaknesses in the krc’s operations.

    I have decided to pass over the chief administrative role to a group of writers (comprising USP and non-USP students), and we will collectively discuss and decide upon the reforms of the krc structure to hopefully retain the same amount of freedom but to solidify the publishing process to ward off future repeats of last Saturday. krc has existed prior to my joining it, and I do not wish to become synonymous with the platform. krc is just another online platform amongst many others, and when it declines future students I am certain will set up new ones and we will all congregate there for more debate and reflection on various issues of the day.

    The lessons learnt from this episode have been sincerely taken to heart, and I hope for your understanding.

    Best regards,
    choon hwee

  36. sporescores says:

    Wow, a lot of the commenters are displaying their elitist leanings and pettiness by nitpicking on the writing and questioning the author’s qualification for USP, rather than discussing the issue at hand that the author raised. Many commenters also seem to confuse meritocracy with the ability of students and their families to pay for the USP’s residency requirements. I hope the majority of USP students aren’t so elitist and dismissive of the plight of their peers who come from poor families.

  37. Dear All,

    The comments section for this article is now closed. No more comments will be published on this article.

    We thank you for your interest and hope you will continue reading KRC’s articles.

    Best regards,
    The Kent Ridge Common Team.

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Established in 2009, The Kent Ridge Common is the independent daily of the National University of Singapore. Writers comprise largely of current undergrads with select alumni contributing to the paper. Opinions expressed are of the writer's own. Please visit our disclaimer page for our terms and conditions.

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