SINGAPORE: Upset that his university was investigating him for allegedly harassing female students, Mohd Johan Arif Irwan Tan sent threatening emails to several staff members, saying he would go to the campus with a knife and cut their throats.
The 35-year-old Malaysian was sentenced to three weeks’ jail on Friday (Jan 19) for his actions last year.
He pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal intimidation and chose to begin serving his jail sentence immediately.
The court heard that Johan was pursuing a master’s degree in media and communication at Nanyang Technological University (NTU)’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, which investigated a complaint against him for the alleged harassment of some female NTU students.
After completing preliminary investigations, the school forwarded the matter to NTU’s Board of Discipline Secretariat for a further probe.
The board receives complaints regarding violations of NTU’s student code of conduct. It will then investigate and manage the complaints, as well as notify the students involved and arrange a meeting with them to brief them on the investigation and disciplinary procedures.
When investigations are completed, the board chairman will look at the findings.
The board can impose disciplinary measures ranging from a stern warning to expulsion from NTU.
On Apr 25, 2023, the board sent an email to Johan, telling them that a report had been lodged against him for an alleged violation of the student code of conduct. A disciplinary inquiry had therefore been initiated to investigate the matter.
The board invited Johan to a meeting for him to be briefed on the disciplinary procedures.
About an hour later, Johan replied to the email. He also copied eight other recipients including NTU faculty members.
His email stated: “I would like to let you know tat [sic] I think you guys at NTU should stop harassing me with your investigations already or else I would call the police right NOW and STICK A KNIFE UP YOUR THROATS. YOU GOT THAT???
“Last warning and I’m no longer playing. I mean it.”
Another hour later, he sent another email to the same recipients. This time, he said: “Yes, so in case you guys are wondering if I really mean what I said. I would like to say that yes I do mean what I say.
“And im going to go to NTU with a knife tomorrow and cut everyone’s throat in the management office.
“So if you want to call the police you can call the police now, I’ll be waiting for them.”
The board informed NTU’s associate provost of student life about this, who advised them to immediately work from home until there was news of Johan being arrested.
The next morning, the board issued an exclusion and no-contact notice to Johan, barring him from entering the university campus and communicating with any NTU personnel, except for one faulty member who served as his contact person.
Court documents did not state the outcome of the board’s investigations against Johan.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Ethan Lee told the court that Johan was known to have schizoaffective disorder, which is characterised primarily by symptoms of schizophrenia like hallucinations or delusions, as well as obsessive compulsive disorder.
However, Johan was not suffering a relapse of these mental illnesses at the time. There was also no contributory link between the disorders and his offence.
DPPs Lee and Claire Poh sought a jail term of between three and six weeks, noting that Johan did not actually bring a weapon within close proximity of the board members despite his threats.
For criminal intimidation, Johan could have been fined or jailed up to two years, or both.