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3 Oct 2012

Singapore: Bus driver to face disciplinary action for gay slur

In a first of its kind case to be reported, an employee of a bus company in Singapore will face disciplinary action after using a gay slur on a female passenger in public.

SBS Transit has confirmed that it will take disciplinary action against its driver for verbally abusing a passenger.

Leona Lo, a public relations consultant and transgender woman, reported being called an “ah kua” by a SBS Transit bus driver at the Bedok Temporary Interchange on Tuesday morning. The derogatory term in the Hokkien dialect is commonly used to taunt effeminate men or transgender women.

Above: Leona Lo

In a letter to the bus company, Lo said: “As I was making my way to the MRT station, a SBS bus driver yelled "Ah Kua" and his colleagues – all wearing SBS uniforms - started hooting and clapping.”

The bus company did not respond directly to Lo but when contacted by Fridae, SBS Transit spokesperson Tammy Tan said on Wednesday that they have “conducted an investigation and identified the Bus Captain in question.”

“He is deeply apologetic and we will be taking disciplinary action against him. I would like to extend my deep regret to the complainant and to assure her that this is not something we at SBS Transit condone.”

Tan, who is Senior Vice President of Group Corporate Communications at ComfortDelgro which owns SBS Transit, declined to reveal what disciplinary action will be taken citing company policies but added that the incident “is not something we condone and take lightly to.”

She added that this is the first time the company has received a complaint involving an employee using a gay slur on a passenger or member of the public.

When asked about whether the company provides diversity training for its employees as Lo had offered to give a talk on diversity at no charge, Tan said the company has in place “internal training processes which cover a wide range of topics.”

Lo told Fridae she hopes the incident will be a learning experience for all. “We need to report such incidents to ensure that history does not repeat itself.”

“I've received emails from transgender women humiliated by bouncers at nightclubs but when I ask them for an incident report they back out for fear of ‘reprisals’. In 2007, Lo offered to conduct diversity training for the employees of a bar where she was asked leave after she was told that the venue did not welcome “lady boys”.

“Until we can stand up for ourselves and believe in our right to live a life free from harassment, the door to bullying and abuse will remain wide open,” she added.


Reader's Comments

1. 2012-10-03 20:36  
very pretty!!
2. 2012-10-03 21:06  
“internal training processes which cover a wide range of topics.” ...ie. No
3. 2012-10-03 22:25  
What a shame on SBS. You did the right thing by speaking up, Leona. Very courageous of you.
Comment #4 was deleted by its author on 2012-10-03 23:25
5. 2012-10-03 23:23  
Quite right that it was reported, others may have been tempted to take a more direct approach to the bus driver, I'm not sure which is better.

Since writing that, I read her blog, and she did go back to confront the driver, but he had gone.

She's right, we must confront bullies, whether they are bus drivers, pastors, law professors, trolls, censors, or officials, and whether they do it abusively or with false arguments to diminish us as human beings. Enough is enough.

The biggest abuse in Singapore is 377A.
Comment edited on 2012-10-03 23:39:10
6. 2012-10-04 06:21  
Sounds like Leona Lo is having to battle a lot of people all by herself, she might be strong, but I hope she gets help and support because eventually she will be worn down by the reality of how nasty some ignorant people can be. Good on you Leona, be strong, but look after yourself!
7. 2012-10-04 06:29  
This is the second good news in less than a week (with California): wow! Leona is brave and inspiring...
8. 2012-10-04 09:31  
"he is deeply apologetic".....i wonder, is he apologetic over what he had done, or over the fact that Miss Lo took action against him. Either way, kudos to you Leona!
9. 2012-10-04 09:40  
Is that what passes for an apology in Singapore. No response to the original email, then a formalized pice of legal garbage showing no remorse whatever, but only when pressured by Fridae. This is not an SBS problem this is a problem for the whole of Singapore society
10. 2012-10-04 10:31  
Shame Shame Shame ,on the Bus Driver,keep your comments to yourself, do your job properly,With out passengers you would'nt have a job.The drivers attitude is rife here in Australia.
11. 2012-10-04 12:05  
1 for the gays! Well done Leona. Keep on fighting the fight.
12. 2012-10-04 12:10  
@denseaus: Companies respond to only one thing: public humiliation. It's the only reason any company ever apologizes for anything.
13. 2012-10-04 13:33  
i am also a transsxual , no matter hw feminine i may be . the eyes of these bus drivers are so sharp that they can tell the real frm us ..... if only they wld use those eyes to see if any of their passengers or the road users ARE SAFE !!!
u all get wat i mean ........... ^___*
14. 2012-10-04 17:15  
Well done comrades,,whether you are gay or lesbian r transgender, fight for you right as we all are human and need some good respect from everyone as we are honest people
15. 2012-10-04 19:43  
There's a lot of nasty people out there who do this on a daily basis. Good to hear that one of them has gotten disciplinary action.

For trans people out there, keep fighting and stay strong.
16. 2012-10-04 19:43  
I could give some internal training...
17. 2012-10-04 21:47  
18. 2012-10-05 05:28  
Well let's hope they follow suit when gay men get verbal homophobic slurs too -let watch out for it and support eachother.
19. 2012-10-05 22:57  
leona u did the right thing. u got our support.
these driver should be discipline and show respect to others.
20. 2012-10-05 22:58  
leona u did the right thing. u got our support.
these driver should be discipline and show respect to others.
21. 2012-10-06 10:12  
Gosh !! Leona is a beautiful guy with a fighting spirit. Good for him. An excellent role model for every transgender person.
Comment #22 was deleted by its author on 2012-10-06 14:36
Comment #23 was deleted by its author on 2012-10-06 14:37
Comment #24 was deleted by its author on 2012-10-06 17:40
25. 2012-10-07 13:33  
Re comment no. 21, Leona is a woman. Referring to her as a 'guy' and 'him' is plain wrong and disrespectful.
26. 2012-10-09 20:42  
Well done Leona.……….

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