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August 21, 2017

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Singapore state-linked union group sacks executive after racist Facebook post

SINGAPORE -- Singapore's state-linked labor movement on Monday sacked a senior executive after she posted expletive-laden and racially charged comments on Facebook that caused outrage in the city-state.

Amy Cheong, an ethnic Chinese assistant director of membership at the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), was sacked one day after posting remarks on the social networking site about the country's Malay minority.

NTUC Secretary-General Lim Swee Say, who holds the rank of minister in the office of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, announced the sacking on the organization's Facebook page, which was bombarded with complaints about Cheong.

"We will not accept and have zero tolerance towards any words used or actions taken by our staff that are racially offensive," Lim said.

"We are sorry that this has happened," he added.

Cheong's Facebook page could not be accessed on Monday after her remarks caused a furor in Singapore's Internet community, but an apology she wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter was still visible after she was fired.

"I am truly sorry for making that stupid comment. I really didn't mean it that way. I am truly sorry," she said.

In her Facebook rant, Cheong commented on the length of Malay wedding celebrations and derided the community's divorce rates.

Multi-ethnic Singapore, which suffered racial riots in the 1960s and is surrounded by larger Muslim neighbors Indonesia and Malaysia, takes a hard line against acts stoking racial and religious hatred.

Singapore's population is 74 percent ethnic Chinese, 13 percent Muslim Malay and 9 percent Indian, with the rest made up of other immigrant groups.

Seditious acts including fostering racial hatred are punishable by a fine of up to SG$5,000 (US$3,854) or imprisonment of up to three years, or both.

Last year a member of the ruling People's Action Party was forced to quit after describing local Muslim children photographed in a school bus as terrorists in training.

The NTUC works closely with the government and is seen as a training ground for future PAP politicians.

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