Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The letter that Rear-Adm Teo Chee Hean never read

A letter I sent to MOE addressed to then Education Minister Rear-Adm Teo Chee Hean. It was a cry for help but it was hijacked. It was carbon copied to the Principal of the school. Follow the wayang. Warning -12 pages.


Dear Sir,

RE : Teacher Harasses Student

I am the guardian of a 15-year old Chinese girl who came to Singapore on April 1999. She took a test and was accepted by Chai Chee Secondary School. She went to Secondary 1/1 on 7th January 2000.

On 10th January 2000, she was made to copy Chapter One of her Maths textbook. Reason? She didn't wear her name tag. With the help of my maid, she copied 21 pages of it after finishing her other homework, from 9pm until past 12 midnight. Despite my telling her she didn't have to do it.

Why was she punished? Her form teacher Ms Loh Yoke Hwee had told the class to order their name tags and to wear them at all times or they would be punished. Every student in that school has to wear a name tag. Her classmates started school on 3rd January. My ward went in later, and she was only told on that day.

The school bookshop had sold out the name tags by then. Being a foreigner, she needed the help of her classmates to bring her to the shop that makes name tags. They went the next day which was a Friday. The name tag would only be ready on Monday, 10th January. She could collect it after school.

That Monday morning, she was punished. Ms Loh didn't bother want to know why she still didn't wear a name tag. She just punished her.

Later I asked my ward, Xiaoran, what did the teacher do to the pages she had copied. She said the teacher just put them aside without a glance. I presumed they ended up in the dustbin. That's the first unpleasant experience my ward had in a Singaporean school.

....../ Page 1


  1. I'm getting skeptical as my read on your blog continues. It just does not make any sense anymore, on your actions and what you hope to achieve. It does feel that you're nitpicking and amplifying issues which doesn't even warrant the attention in the first place.

    It was a good read though.

  2. So there's more to it since it's label page 1?

  3. It's only Page 1, dear. Please be patient and wait for the rest of the story.

  4. That's a bit mad. Just a bloody name tag!

  5. Hi miccheng,
    Not this letter. All the letters that ding-dong between school, MOE and I in this episode.

  6. This is how kids are punished at school? I am shocked. What a counterproductive measure for a person's learning experience. Tsk tsk tsk.

  7. wahh..when I saw the warning..12 pages..fuiyohh..I was so excited..quickly went and got my drink and sat down to read....then tengok tengok..laaaa...to be continued..potong stim nia..

  8. most singapore teachers are nothing but big bullies who abuse their authority and do not respect students at all because they think they're superior to them.

  9. What a shame that some people are truly in the wrong profession. Ms Loh would make an excellent Death Row Commandant. Pity..

  10. We're given a "receipt" to show teachers when we can collect our name tags.

  11. Wow, can't wait to read the next few pages~~ -Rainmaker

  12. Hi ya,

    Just a little bit concerned about the use of real names in letters like these being posted online. Aren't such letters supposed to be kept in confidence?

    Or if posted, at least blank out the names?

  13. ECL, I had a nice reply from the uncle up there.... as seems that the local BBC News caught on with this dirty laundry about Singapore CLEAN AND FINE CITY and the Education System being a mess.

    But since the reporter was a friend, I asked old man to have a say and make it so, before it gets worse...

    No fun having Singapore poked as a nincompac team of educators.

  14. I believe that it happened. I think its the teachers from the "old school" who only know how to use the cane appraoch and not the carrot approach. Hopefully they are a dying breed.(Pun intended)

  15. I am just wondering...... Is this affecting you cos you are in the educational business and have wards under your care and a schooling son as well? When you set up your business in China, you gave the government officers presents to get things done quickly. Unfairness, bribery, injustice, deception, and so forth happen everywhere in the world.

  16. wilfrid,
    Yes, you will be surprised some teachers have so many different ways to abuse our kids. This are the educators we parents are supposed to trust with our kids.

  17. eve,
    haha.... you where got time to spend on 12 pages in a row. So one day one page at least you can sneak some time mah.

  18. lb,
    Yes, some teachers and even principals should not be in this profession. Yet we see so many....

    Our MOE has stringent requirements when it comes to recruiting teachers? They should talk to the students.

  19. uglyfatchick,
    My girl wasn't even given a chance to explain, how to show the receipt?

  20. Mark,
    Thanks for voicing your concern.

    I want them to sue me so that more cases and evidence can be publicized. Let foreign papers picked up these stories and publicly shame these people, see who else would dare to commit such atrocities to their students.

  21. azrin,
    Yes, as a Singaporean it is embarassing to have our dirty laundry washed in public. I struggled for a long time before releasing this.

    And since I have no avenue of making my concerns noticed, or my feedback kept being shotdown, this is the best that I can do.

    Now that this is made public, PM Lee and his cabinet know by now they have been kept in the dark about certain Ministries' practices.

    I'll tell until they correct the wrongs.

  22. stay-at-home Mom,
    This type of people will never die out. New ones will replace the old ones. They get smarter too.

    Must teach our kids to speak out against such abuses.

  23. Did your ward explain to the teacher her reasons for not wearing her name tag? As her guardian, why didn't you see the teacher to explain your ward's situation and find out more? I don't take my own kids' words 100% when they complained about their teachers.

  24. No chance to explain? And just a mere name tag lead to such a punishment?

    If my kids were to be treated like that, I will surely 'labrak' the teacher. Ridiculous!!!

  25. LilMrsT,
    When Xiaoran told me about this, I thought it was a small matter. Kids get punish for forgetting to bring their books, made to write lines is common.

    Until months later, when the bullying got worse, then I realised I was such a bloody idiot to have let the teacher do such things to a child.

    The truth was, I was weak and thought more of myself than tried to protect her. I thought it was just a minor thing. I was wrong. The school was wrong. MOE WAS WRONG!

  26. Sounds like a bloody martinet! Hate those kind of peoples!

  27. Hi simple american
    Yes, don't we all hate such people?

  28. very interesting thoughts and blog you have. Thank you for sharing and for stopping by my place yesterday :)