Nurse put on admin duties amid probe

Nurse put on admin duties amid probe

The nurse who allegedly made disparaging remarks about Singaporeans on Facebook has been put on administrative duties while the police investigate whether his account had been hacked.

The Philippine embassy in Singapore has also told the Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) nurse to be "extra careful with his social media usage".

"Since the matter is under police investigation, the embassy advised the person concerned to cooperate fully with the SPF (Singapore Police Force)."

The Facebook post called Singaporeans "loosers" (losers) and expressed hope that "disators (disasters) will strike Singapore".

It allegedly vowed to "evict" Singaporeans from their country and ended with a reminder, that "Pinoy better and stronger than Stinkaporeans".

The post went viral over the weekend, outraging many netizens. The nurse subsequently claimed that his Facebook account had been hacked and made a police report.

A TTSH spokesman, who called the incident a "serious matter", told The New Paper: "We are a public health-care institution and we expect our staff to be respectful and professional.

"We do not condone behaviours or comments that are irresponsible and offensive, and will take the appropriate disciplinary action where necessary."

He also thanked members of the public for their concern and asked for their patience while the investigation takes its course.

Police confirmed that a report had been made.

Similar offensive comments on social media previously led to some losing their jobs.

Anton Casey was fired from his wealth manager job last year for lamenting about the "stench" of public transport.

In 2012, Amy Cheong lost her job at NTUC after drawing flak for complaining about Malay traditional weddings.

While the social media policy adopted by companies may differ, human resource experts said the general rule is to stay away from the four taboo subjects: race, religion, politics and xenophobia.

The nurse's alleged Facebook post falls under the last category, said Ong Hong Him, a fellow at the Singapore Human Resources Institute.

"It is an unspoken rule," he said. "If you want to have the freedom of speech, be your own boss. But if you want to be an employee, then you are obliged to follow the company's line of practice."

Mr Ong said that companies should also impress upon their employees that "there are certain norms to adhere to", such as not getting overly involved in sensitive topics.

Tim Klimcke, the associate director at recruitment agency Robert Walters Singapore, agreed.

"Employees should also be mindful of the fact that while under employment, they are still ambassadors of the company and inflammatory comments are not likely to be tolerated," he said.

If the comments are negative in nature, or are made in relation to people in the company, tagging it with a disclaimer that views are personal will not grant the employee immunity, said Paul Heng, the founder of NeXT Career Consulting Group.

Perhaps, there is a need for a more developed social media policy here, in an age where social media is the "in" thing, said Annie Yap, the managing director at recruiter AYP Associates.

But she said it may be impossible to enforce it fully, given the many facets of social media.

This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.

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