A Perth woman at the centre of a racism storm in Singapore has fled to WA after she was sacked over a Facebook post that sparked a public outcry.
University of WA graduate Amy Cheong, 37, caused outrage across the South-East Asian republic on Sunday by posting a comment about Malay weddings, which are often held in public spaces beneath housing blocks in Singapore.
Apparently frustrated by the noise from a wedding, she wrote: "How many f…ing (sic) days do Malay weddings at void decks go for? Pay for a real wedding you a……, maybe then the divorce rate won't be so high. How can society allow people to get married for 50 bucks?"
The post went viral within hours, leading to Facebook groups calling for Ms Cheong to be sacked, YouTube videos accusing her of racism against the Malay community and a barrage of malicious online posts.
Ms Cheong, a Malaysian-born Australian citizen, was sacked on Monday from her job as assistant director of Singapore's National Trade Union Congress for Membership Partnership and Alliance.
She issued a long apology, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said it had come too late and the damage was done. He condemned the comments as unacceptable and offensive to Malay Muslims.
"It sharply reminds us how easily a few thoughtless words can undermine our racial and religious harmony," he said.
Ms Cheong told state media on Tuesday she was leaving for Perth because of threats to her and her family and to "ease the tension".
In her apology, Ms Cheong wrote: "I am terribly sorry to all who were affected emotionally, mentally and in all other aspects. I am aware of the pain I've caused through my insensitive remarks on social media.
"There was no racism intended in my post. I was trying to rest and the noise was affecting me greatly, however, I do understand this is not a valid reason to post what I did."
Her boss, Lim Swee Say, said firing Ms Cheong was a difficult decision and urged Singaporeans to "spare a thought for Amy and the pain she is going through".
He said the NTUC "would not accept … any words or actions taken by staff that are racially offensive".
It is understood she had been working for the union for a year, but had been living in Singapore for 10 years after moving from Perth, where she grew up.
Singaporean local Ryan Soh, a sales consultant, said the comments had come at a sensitive time in Singapore.
"The Government is trying hard to create a picture of racial harmony because we have a lot of races here, Chinese, Indians and Malays," he said. "It is a balancing act and when these comments came, they touched a lot of raw nerves."