Even though outcry over the Monica Baey incident has intensified recently, this issue has had quite a long history.
In case you didn’t know, Monica Baey, is a third-year National University of Singapore (NUS) new media undergrad who took to her Instagram account on the 18 and 19 April to recount a harrowing experience she had with a voyeur.
In her Instagram story posts, which has garnered over 15, 000 views, she shared that she noticed an iPhone being held underneath the door while she was showering at the Eusoff hall on November 25 last year.
The 23-year-old who is also an intern at Rice Communications was frustrated that the university has not done enough to punish the perpetrator, who is said to be chemical engineering student, Nicholas Lim.
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According to her posts, the university requested Nicholas to write an apology to Monica and undergo compulsory counselling. He was also banned from stepping into the Eusoff Hall and suspended from school for a semester.
According to a statement from the university, the case was investigated by the authorities and the man was issued a 12-month conditional warning. This means that he must not commit any crime for a year or may be dealt in court for both his old and new offence. That said, a conditional warning will not show up on an offender’s records. Worse still, there is no need to declare it to private employers in general, unless required to.
In response to the punishments that were met out, Monica tried to appeal for a heavier sentence, but was told by her investigating officer that she “have to accept the outcome” or “go to NUS and push for action.”
Yet, there is hope. Since Saturday (20 April), two online petitions have gathered the signatures of close to 44,000 people, calling for the University and authorities to take a tougher stance and stronger actions against the perpetrator.
Here’s a detailed catalogue of the chain of events that unfolded after Monica bravely stepped forward with her story.
25 November 2018: The incident
Monica only realised the iPhone was there when she turned to grab her towel. The man filming her was able to make a swift escape. Monica then turned to campus security and after going through CCTV footage, she realised the offender was a student named Nicholas Lim.
According to a report by the Malaysian press, Monica was friends with both Nicholas and his girlfriend, who also resided in Eusoff Hall.
Late 2018: Nicholas Lim’s girlfriend talks to Monica
The girlfriend of the perpetrator implored Monica to drop the case against Nicholas because it was his first time committing such an offense. Also, she justified his actions and claimed that he was tempted to film her because of the genre of pornography he consumed – voyeurism.
Late 2018: The police were notified
In addition to making a report to campus security, she also went to the police. According to her Instagram story post, the university also sent the police the cctv footage. The footage shows a man entering the toilet that night. The video the perpetrator took of Monica was also submitted to the authorities as evidence.
January 2019: What NUS did to punish the perpetrator
After a two-month long investigation, Nicholas was suspended for a year and barred from entering the Eusoff hall. He was also asked to write a formal apology letter to Monica and attend mandatory counselling sessions.
21 February: Monica receives an apology letter from the perpetrator.
Monica took to the gram and posted a screenshot of an apology letter written by Nicholas who claimed that he was under the influence of alcohol when the incident happened.
18 – 19 April: The impactful Instagram posts.
Monica took to social media to publicise the peeping Tom incident at her hostel and demanded for real change in how authorities deal with acts that violate women. She wrote: “I want real consequences for perpetrators that commit such acts and I want to know that NUS will reprimand them seriously so other potential perpetrators know they will face punishment if they commit (such acts).”
20 April: NUS confirmed that Nicholas has been given a 12-month conditional warning by the authorities.
He has to remain crime-free for a year or may face a heavy penalty on both his old and new offence.
20 April: Mother knows best. Monica’s mother speaks out.
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Monica’s mother, Mary Baey, echoed her daughter’s views and slammed the conditional warning and said that is “completely unacceptable.” She added that: “How can we know this is not going to happen again and how can there be no serious consequences for such actions?”
She also expressed her dismay towards the actions taken by the university: “He (Nicholas) will be back to NUS as per normal with no consequences… this is completely unacceptable.”
“How can we place our trust in NUS, a national and international institution? This trust is now broken,” she wrote.
21 April: The student movement.
Close to 500 students put up a statement directed to the university’s senior management, urging the university to uphold a : “stronger stance against sexual harassment and set a positive example for other universities around the world.
21 April: Local urban farm company OnHand Agrarian pulls out its dealings with NUS
In an official statement released by the company, OnHand Agrarian said that it: “made the monumentally stupid decision to compromise it’s product and the clients who paid good money for the product” by “allowing a criminal to continue to use it’s facilities.”
They emphasised that OnHand Agrarian will suspend all activities with NUS until Nicholas gets expelled by the institution. They said: “No talks, no internships, no site visits, no use of our company when you need industry partners to be Co-PIs for government grant submissions.”
22 April: Education Minister Ong Ye Kung urges NUS to take a tougher stance against such offenses.
Speaking publicly about the incident for the first time, the Minister said in a Facebook post that: “Two nights ago, I spoke to the NUS President, and then the Board Chairman, to convey my concerns that the penalties NUS applied were manifestly inadequate in the recent sexual misconduct case.
“From here on, for offences that affect the safety of students on campus, we have to take a tough stand, and send a strong signal to everyone,” he stressed. “Two strikes and you are out cannot be the standard application. NUS has to make its campus safe for all students, especially female students.”
22 April: NUS introduces “second strike and you are out” policy for sexual misconduct cases.
NUS vice-provost (student life) told the local media that a student found guilty of sexual misconduct for a second time will be expelled. A review committee will also study the approaches of other campuses, solicit views from stakeholders and share its findings and follow up actions in the new academic year this August.
22 April: Nicholas suspended by Great Eastern
In a Facebook post, the insurance company wrote that it strongly disapproves of any inappropriate misconduct by its financial representatives and will not hesitate to take necessary action against such employees. As such, Great Eastern Singapore has decided to suspend Nicholas who was a financial advisor with the company. Following the suspension, the latter submitted his resignation from the firm.
23 April: Police explains that Nicholas was given a 12-month conditional warning because he was assessed to have a higher likelihood of rehabilitation and was remorseful.
They added that other factors pertinent to his conduct were considered, including the absence of obscene materials in his personal devices. In the official statement, the Singapore Police Force also wrote that: “A prosecution, with a possible jail sentence, will likely ruin his entire future, with a permanent criminal record.”
25 April: NUS will be organising a townhall at the University Town from 5pm to 6pm.
At the meeting, feedback and concerns regarding sexual misconduct on campus will be gathered. According to Professor Peter Pang, NUS dean of students: “We will also share with you NUS’ investigation and disciplinary procedures, and the sanctions framework for sexual misconduct.”
25 April: Monica returns to Singapore to attend the townhall
At an emotionally charged town hall on sexual misconduct held at the university, vice-provost of student life Florence Ling said that the institution has failed Monica. Over 400 students and staff members showed up, including Monica, who flew back from Taiwan, where she is on an exchange programme.
We will be updating this post regularly so stay tuned to this space.