Singapore FM slams ‘deeply offensive’ remarks by British expat

SINGAPORE - A Singapore-based British wealth manager's Facebook posts deriding public transport commuters as poor are "deeply offensive, wrong, and unacceptable", the city-state's foreign minister said Thursday.

Furious Internet users lashed out at Porsche-driving Anton Casey, who is married to a former Singapore beauty queen, after he referred to public transport users as "poor people" in a post on the social network.

The 39-year-old, a Singapore permanent resident, had also referred to washing "the stench of public transport off me" in another post.

"Like many Singaporeans, I am terribly upset and offended by what he (Casey) has posted. Deeply offensive, wrong, and unacceptable," Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam, who is also the country's law minister, said in a post on Facebook.

"Those who have done well in life should always be looking out for others - especially the less well-off or needy. It is basic human decency. Instead Mr Casey showed contempt," he added.

Casey on Wednesday apologised for his remarks in a statement issued through a public relations firm, but many Internet users remain unsatisfied.

"Some feel that the manner of his apology showed a lack of sincerity. And I think there is some basis for thinking that," Shanmugam said.

However the minister appealed to Singaporeans to spare Casey's family from online abuse. "We, Singaporeans, can be bigger than that," he wrote.

One of Casey's posts showed a picture of a boy, apparently his five-year-old son, sitting inside a metro train with a caption above the photo saying: "Daddy, where is your car & who are all these poor people?"

Another showed a waving boy sitting inside a silver convertible Porsche, with a caption saying: "Ahhhhhhhh reunited with my baby. Normal service can resume, once I have washed the stench of public transport off me."

On Wednesday Casey said that his Facebook page had been "breached" and his family had "suffered extreme emotional and verbal abuse online".

The Briton's employer, Crossinvest (Asia) Pte Ltd, said it does not condone his comments which "were made in poor taste".

Here is Law Minister K. Shanmugam's Facebook post in full:

I have been asked what I thought of Mr Anton Casey and his statements. Like many Singaporeans, I am terribly upset and offended by what he has posted. Deeply offensive, wrong, and unacceptable.

Those who have done well in life should always be looking out for others - especially the less well-off or needy. It is basic human decency. Instead Mr Casey showed contempt. Having money and a Porsche, does not automatically mean that one is superior. Character is important.

I am glad the community has come together to condemn what he has said.

He has attempted to apologise to Singaporeans. But some feel that the manner of his apology showed a lack of sincerity. And I think there is some basis for thinking that.

At the same time, I hope that Singaporeans will not attack or flame his family because of his actions. We, Singaporeans, can be bigger than that.

Here is the statement by Mr Casey's employer, Crossinvest Asia, that has been posted online:

Crossinvest is aware of recent comments made on social media by one of its employees which some Singaporeans have found offensive. Crossinvest does not condone the offending comments. We believe they were made in poor taste. Crossinvest has clear policies regarding the codes of conduct expected of its employees. That code of conduct extends to social media. We are currently investigating the comments made by our employee and will take appropriate action once we are in possession of all the facts.

Crossinvest is a family business that has been established in 1985 in Switzerland and in 2005 in Singapore. Our staff comes from diverse backgrounds and includes a number of Singaporean nationals, who provide wealth management services to a large base of individual clients, families and institutions. Thanks to our multicultural ties, we have been able over the years to promote a working environment that appreciates diversity and mutual understanding, allowing us to deliver a distinguished service to our local and international clients alike.

Regards,

Christophe Audergon

Managing Director

Crossinvest Asia