Briton loses job amid furore over online remarks

Briton loses job amid furore over online remarks

Briton Anton Casey has lost his job in Singapore, six days after posting derisive remarks about public transport users.

His employer, wealth management firm Crossinvest (Asia), announced on its Facebook site at 1am on Saturday that it had "parted ways" with Mr Casey, a senior wealth manager.

It said: "Crossinvest (Asia) is deeply concerned by the recent comments made by Mr Anton Casey on social media which have caused great distress amongst Singaporeans. Those comments go against our core corporate and family values that are based on trust, mutual understanding and are respectful of diversity.

"Crossinvest (Asia) is a family business which has been built here in Singapore. The online comments made by Mr Casey do not represent the culture that we have built over many years. Accordingly, Crossinvest (Asia) and Mr Casey have parted ways with immediate effect."

The statement came a day after Mr Casey left Singapore for Perth with his Singaporean wife and son.

When contacted on Saturday, a spokesman for the company insisted that Mr Casey had not been fired, but that his departure was a "mutually agreed upon separation".

It marked another low point for the 39-year-old, who went from being unknown just last Sunday to public enemy No.1 in six days after he called train commuters "poor people" and said he needed to "wash the stench of public transport off me".

His Facebook remarks went viral and created an online firestorm, with many offended Singaporeans criticising him for what he said. Uglier online attacks were of a personal nature and directed at him as well as his wife and young son.

Many thought his first apology last Tuesday was "insincere", having been issued through a public relations agency. Law Minister K. Shanmugam said he was "terribly upset and offended" by what Mr Casey said.

The Singapore permanent resident issued a second apology last Friday after taking his wife, former Miss Singapore Universe Bernice Wong, and their five-year-old son to Perth, claiming that there had been threats made against them.

He said in an e-mail to The Straits Times that he had "made the greatest mistake of my life", adding that he and his family would return to Singapore, and he was prepared to give his time and resources to community work to make amends.

The furore last week over what Mr Casey said caught the attention of the international media, and the story was picked up by news agencies and reported in Australia and Britain, among other places.

Saturday's news that he no longer had a job took off rapidly online, garnering more than 5,400 likes and more than 1,200 shares on The Straits Times Facebook page.

Many in Singapore applauded the news and some wanted him barred from returning, but others felt it was time to move on.

"He is just someone who said a silly remark and now has to deal with the wreckage... He has had enough, leave him alone," said one netizen.

Dr William Wan, general secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, who himself came under attack for writing an article in The Straits Times last week calling for more empathy in the wake of the unceasing online rants, believes it is time to take a step back.

"It is right that we stepped up and reprimanded the wrong committed. But to continue to be angry and bitter is not helpful," he said. "He has already apologised and paid the price. We should be big-hearted enough to let people redeem themselves. That is what empathy is about."

But Labour MP Zainal Sapari took a harder line, saying the whole saga showed that Singaporeans do not tolerate "Singapore-bashing".

"When we open employment opportunities to foreigners and PRs, the least they can do is respect our people and our nation... You do not bite the hand that feeds you," he said.

"Empathy has its limits. Once you cross the line, you must be willing to face the full consequence of your words or actions."

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