View Full Version : Feuds with School Leaders

Chieng Vui Leng
15th October 2005, 12:54 AM
This is a long story, and I am seeking opinions from you.

A bit of a background here: I am Malaysian, but I studied in Singapore since I was 7. I attended the Anglo-Chinese School, which consists of 5 units: 2 Primary Schools, ACS(Junior) and ACS(Primary); 2 Secondary Schools, ACS(Barker Road) and ACS(Independent); and a college, Anglo-Chinese Junior College.

I studied in ACS(Primary) from 1995 to 2000, followed by ACS(Independent) from 2001 to 2004, and after that came to Australia to continue my studies.

I am writing about Mr Peter Tan, the principal of Anglo-Chinese School (Junior). I have been having conflicts with him and his Vice-Principal, Miss Bok Hai Choo, since last year.

I used to know Mr Tan well - I was actually from ACS(Primary), not ACS(Junior), but I do know quite a few teachers there - I first visited ACS(J) in 2002 on hearing that Mr Chandrajit Yadav (who taught me at ACS(P) as a trainee teacher in 1999) was teaching there. Through Mr Yadav, I got to know many other teachers there. I also met Mr Tan, who was very friendly, and he even told me that I had "grown taller" on a subsequent visit, which is the highest compliment anyone can pay me.

What soured our relationship occurred the following year - I could not get along with some of my neighbours and my Mum warned me, saying that they may complain to my school. I decided to strike first by complaining to their school, which was ACS(J). However, Mr Tan was very rude about it and told me "as long as the incident in question takes place outside school, we have no control over it." Take note of this statement, more on that later.

Besides, the receptionists were very rude and unfriendly too. There were many other ex-students visiting, and they allowed them to stay but kept asking me to leave. I know I am technically not an ex-student of ACS(J), but it is still ACS, isn't it?

What also stunned me was that Mr Tan refused to entertain my complaints. If people complained to Dr Ong - the principal of my then school, which was ACS(I) - he would definitely have taken action against the students in question. I have witnessed quite a few people being caned as a result of public feedback.

In November 2003, the school was having a graduation cum campfire night for the Primary Six (final year of Primary School) students and I dropped in, and Mr Tan was perfectly friendly again. Sometime before Chinese New Year the following year (which was just last year), I visited the school to deliver three greeting cards, one to all the teachers of ACS(J), thanking them for all their assistance with my neighbours last year (though not much was provided), and the other two to certain friends that I know in the school. I walked pass the reception counter and passed the stuff to the Vice-Principal, Ms Sharon Liat, who told me she would have to pass them to Mr Tan first. She was reasonably friendly so I thought I was home and dry. How very wrong I was.

After Chinese New Year, I went back to ACS(J) again to check if the cards had been successfully delivered. I tried to go to see Ms Liat again but the receptionist stopped and even scolded me, when she did not seem to mind the previous time. She was being very inconsistent here.

About a week later, I went back to ACS(J) a third time to check if the cards had been delivered, as I had been unsuccessful the previous time. Although I did not walk in like I did before, the receptionist got Mr Peter Tan out, and he started yelling his head off at me, spraying me with flecks of spit. I tried to apologize and explain myself, but he was totally beyond reason. In the end, I gave up and left.

The purpose of my visit was to check if the cards had been successfully passed to the respective recipients, and instead I got a scolding from the principal. What amazed me more is that he dared to complain to the principal of my own school, when he himself refused to entertain my complaints about some of his students. He himself declared that "as long as the incident in question takes place outside school, we have no control over it". Why then, does he complain to my school over an incident that happened more than 6km outside? I was not even wearing school uniform then.

Miss Bok Hai Choo, who was then my teacher at ACS(I) and has since been posted to ACS(J) as 2nd Vice-Principal on secondment, told me that I "was being rude to him", when it was actually the other way round. He was the one who was ranting and raving at me. I did not lose my temper, raise my voice or even so much as frown at him. I see no reason why I, and not him, should have been put in the blame.

It was not over then. In May this year Security guards have been implemented at ACS(J), and this is "in accordance with the MOE", so says Mr Tan.

In July this year, my family was on holiday in Singapore and it was my mid-year break then, so I went back for a short holiday. We happened to stay near ACS(J), and one evening my brother and I were taking a walk around the area. As we passed the school gate, I just said 'hi' to the security guard on duty, and in return I got a fierce glare. If looks could kill, I would have been dead.

My brother and I stopped a little way off to sit and talk as we had not seen each other for four months. We were totally outside the school compound, but even so, the security guard approached us and asked our business. Scared, we told him a cock-and-bull story of waiting for a friendís younger brother. But he kept probing us for information and in the end chased us away.

Even the 2nd Vice-Principal, Miss Bok Hai Choo, is inconsistent. She keeps insisting that Mr Tan "has forgiven me" where the incident that occurred last year in concerned. However, whenever I meet up with her, she does not follow the normal procedure. I got a Customer Service Officer from the Ministry of Education to check with Mr Tan what is with the tight security sometime last month, and she was told that if a staff member of the school is meeting someone, he or she is to give the personís name to the security guard, who will let the person in and exchange his or her ID card for a visitorís pass.

However, Miss Bok insists on coming outside to meet me instead. I had just come back from Melbourne after four months and was suffering from the sweltering heat, but she refused to bring me into the comforts of her air-conditioned office, but rather come out and melt along with me. I see plain and gross inconsistency here. Furthermore, when I emailed Miss Bok about the security guard incident, she refused point-blank to entertain.

I feel that Mr Tan and Miss Bok are lacking in the qualities of a good Principal and Vice-Principal respectively, and as a member of the public I am not happy. I think they owe me an explanation here.

Time for analysis. Miss Bok keeps telling me that Mr Tan "has forgiven" me over the tiff that we had had. However, she refuses to let me see him to get a proper closure of the matter. Mind you, it haunts me a lot. Even when I meet up with her, she insists on meeting me outside in the sweltering heat, rather than bring me into her air-conditioned office. If Mr Tan has indeed forgiven me, why does she do this? Isn't it a bit weird?

I questioned her many times over the email, and she said as a Christian I "should not insist, but choose to obey". Well, ACS is a Methodist Institution, one of the criteria of being a leader is to be staunchly anchored in the Christian faith, which Miss Bok is. Then, why does she insist? Why doesn't she choose to obey like she said? She really needs to learn how to practise what she preaches -- and this can be tied in with her not following the normal procedure when meeting me.

To sidetrack a little, I will give some background information on why we meet each other in the first place. She was my teacher as well as counselor back at ACS(I), and has helped me out a lot. We were quite close then, and our original plan was to keep in touch. However, her promotion seems to have pushed her head into the clouds, and made her conceited.

When I threatened to complain to the MOE, she actually told me "do not cross your boundaries". Now, who does she think she is? I am no longer her student, she cannot expel me anyway. Because of that I sent in my letter of complaint straightaway. It remains to be seen how they will look into it. Hopefully both she and Mr Tan will be sacked. :wink:

Two more points: the security guard incident. I just said 'hi' to him and he had to give me a look as if he were going to kill me. Certainly the security guards at Melbourne University are not like that. The security guards at College Square, the hostel where I stay, are very nice too. And I was not even trying to enter the school, I was just sitting at a bench near the gate, with my brother, talking, smoking, I don't see why he had to chase us away. :mad:

Now, the purpose of this post is to do a survey on neutral ground, to find out exactly how someone reading my letter of complaint (which this post was adapted from) will think.

Please state your opinions about my story in your replies (no offensive remarks please). Thanks for taking the time to read this.

15th October 2005, 09:02 AM
Yikes. It does sound like a pickle. It sounds like you won't be able to accomplish much by yourself, though. Have you considered having an audience with the principal of your school or his subordinates? That may give you the edge of authority you need. Anyway, I wish you luck in this- stupid people in this world are always hard to deal with.

15th October 2005, 11:53 PM
[b][size=3]Hi Leng, I suppose it is your first visit here?

Actually being a principal, is a stressful job. Hence it is no surprise that Mr Tan would act in this way. However this is not true on his part that 'as long as the incident in question takes place outside school, we have no control over it.'

Anglo-Chinese School is famous for being under the family. So why would ACS [Primary] school's business does not involved ACS [Junior]? Silly right? I mean look at my ex school, St Hilda's. They are under the Anglican family with St Andrew's. They sill work with each other at times.

I know I am technically not an ex-student of ACS(J), but it is still ACS, isn't it?

[b][size=3] Agree...

If people complained to Dr Ong - the principal of my then school, which was ACS(I) - he would definitely have taken action against the students in question. I have witnessed quite a few people being caned as a result of public feedback.

[b][size=3]Take note of the of their initials. It is [u]Dr Ong against [u]Mr[color=chocolate][b][size=3] Tan. Obviously the more educated would behave more decently or at least more human like. This is the conclusion I came into after my 1 year in army. The more educated a superior is, the more humanely he will act.

It was not over then. In May this year Security guards have been implemented at ACS(J), and this is "in accordance with the MOE", so says Mr Tan.

[b][size=3] Well, he is right about this. This was implement by the government a long time ago. Hence don't expected a friendly face when you smiled at the security guard. After all, it is their job to do so.

I was just sitting at a bench near the gate, with my brother, talking, smoking, I don't see why he had to chase us away.

[b][size=3] I see why the guards had to chase you away. Smoking in front of the school is not actually a rational thing to do. It will only influence the students there into taking up bad habits.

[color=chocolate][b][size=3]Another thing you want to keep in mind that this is Singapore not Australia. So you don't have to compare things from here between there.

The actions of the school's staff is certainly not impressive. This is not to accord of what PM Lee had mentioned in the National Day Parade Rally. PM Lee had mention that customer service in Singapore have to improve. Time for MOE to train their staff!

Chieng Vui Leng
17th October 2005, 04:31 AM
I guess. Thanks for the advice, it is given me more insight into my problem. To tell the truth a lot of people (friends back in Singapore, church friends here) don't agree with me and advised me against complaining to the MOE. But I did it anyway. I started this forum to do a double-blind survey for the purpose of finding out just how many people (who are netural) agree with me. I hope to see more replies in this topic so I can get opinions from different perspectives.

Once again thanks. :cool2:

17th October 2005, 09:05 PM
[b][size=3] No problem. However if the case is brought up to MOE, there is a chance that no actions are taken against the school as it is not anything major.

Chieng Vui Leng
20th October 2005, 08:19 AM
I previously complained to the MOE some time in July last year, and they did look into the matter for me. At that time the only issue was Mr Tan yelling at me for no reason, neither Miss Bok nor the security guard were in the picture yet. Even so, they did look into the matter for me and replied, saying that they had "found that there was cause for Mr Peter Tan to be firm with you as you had entered the grounds of ACS(Junior) without permission and the matter you raised was not a school matter". They went on to say that they would encourage me to settle my differences with my neighbours amicably.

However, their reply was really screwed. They even sidetracked onto the neighbours issue, which was not the point. But this time I have a stronger case against them with the new incidences that surfaced, such as Miss Bok and the security guard.

When I complained the previous time, my parents intercepted the reply and called the MOE to withdraw the complaint. Hopefully it would not affect my new complaint. And this time I am in Australia, without parents to breathe down my neck, hence it should work.

Oh yah, Dark-san, you missed out a few points on Miss Bok's behavior. Could you please comment on this?

Thanks. :cool:

21st October 2005, 12:52 AM
[b][size=3] These people are not worth your time. Just go ahead with your complaint to the Ministry and let the authorites do on what they see will fit.

After all, you have already left the school and had went for further studies in Australia. These people are none of your concern anymore.

In life, it is not advisable to look backward. It is better to look forward as your life lies way ahead in the future and not in the past.

21st October 2005, 12:58 AM
I agree with Dark-San for the most part. You can't change the past, so it's fruitless to try in that regard. The upside is that maybe you can improve the system for the future. For others, your past problems may be their future issues. If your complaint has an effect, it may make things easier for those who follow you. However, since it doesn't seem like there's much you could do beyond this complaint anyway, I'd leave it at that if it fails if I were you.

I wish you luck with your complaint, though. Hopefully your voice can have a positive impact on the way things work.

Chieng Vui Leng
21st October 2005, 01:14 AM
It's not that I want to change the past. I just feel that they owe me an explanation for their outrageous behavior, which Miss Bok stubbornly refused to give.

21st October 2005, 01:08 PM
[b][size=3] Don't worry! You will get your explaination when the ministry questions them. Do you know that MOE have an enquiry department which looks into these public relation matters? If it is a major issue and the ministry feels that these ppl owes them an explaination, sooner or later these ppl will be questioned . The ministry will eventually give you an explaintion on this.

Only a matter of time, be patient on this.

Chieng Vui Leng
22nd October 2005, 04:21 AM
I got the reply from the MOE today.

Dear Mr Chieng

I refer to your email below.

Based on our records, many of the issues raised in this email were
identical to those mentioned in your first letter dated 11 July 2004. MOE
had responded to you in a letter dated 21 July 2004.

In your email, one of the issues concerned the security guards. Their role
requires them to be alert of the school surroundings to ensure the safety
of the pupils and staff of the school. Hence it warrants them to find out
from persons who are seen hanging about the school, their reason for doing

Your allegation about Miss Bok meeting you outside her air-conditioned
office as an inconsistency of the school procedures for visitors has little
grounds. While procedures are part of the school security measures, Miss
Bok, as the Vice-Principal, had good reasons to make that decision given
the prevailing circumstances.

Thank you.

Obviously the MOE is siding with them, which I kinda expected. But not to worry. Since the authorities are not going to be of any help, I will have to take matters into my own hands.

22nd October 2005, 04:51 AM
So, your complaint was turned down, huh? I wonder what you have in mind. I think its unfair that the teachers and the security guard are getting away with what they did. And I thought my school's principal is bad...

You came from Malaysia? So do I! :smilie: I'm Faiz, from Alor Star, Kedah. Hope you enjoy it here in TPM.

23rd October 2005, 03:59 AM
But not to worry. Since the authorities are not going to be of any help, I will have to take matters into my own hands.

[b][size=3] What are you going to do then? Or should I say what would you gain by doing something in your own hands?

Chieng Vui Leng
23rd October 2005, 06:17 AM
To tell the truth, I don't know. I have to think of something I guess.

Back there in Singapore, while I was still slogging away for the O levels at ACS(I), I would say to any ACS(J) boy I met, "Hi, how are you. Tell Peter Tan that he's a dick." Those poor boys would be so confused.

Frankly speaking,

:biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin: PETER TAN IS A DICK :biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

it's fun playing with all these buttons..... but that is not the point....

Well, this is where the forum comes in useful. You guys out there, any ideas?

Looking forward to your replies. :wink:

Chieng Vui Leng
24th October 2005, 04:41 AM
UPDATE: i juz started a blog on this episode, u may check it out at http://dunhill87.blogspot.com. :cool:

Chieng Vui Leng
29th October 2005, 06:50 AM

I tried my luck at the MOE again, as they had missed out many points in their reply - it was so superficial. However, the superintendent (who is in charge of my case) said "our response to your complaints remains".

This really shows how thick they can get.

My church friend told me, when he was doing his NS, there was a "white horse" in his platoon. (A white horse is the son of some minister or parliamentary figure.) Because of this, push=ups were non-existant. The 3-month Basic Military Training became a holiday camp.

In Nikolai Gogol's The Overcoat, Akaky Akakievich (main character) was mugged and the police refused to help him because he was poor. The literature lecturer told us, while teaching, "it can be inferred that the police only help rich and well-to-do people. Society there was very hierarchy-based."

It is so true.