According to an admission by the principal of Whitley Secondary School, students who did not attend a lavish prom dinner held at Holiday Inn hotel will have to pay S$110 as penalty. Principal Tay Yern Fern unwittingly told state media Straits Times reporters about the legal extortion and threat:
“Students who were absent from school-subsidised programmes without valid reason must pay the full cost of the programme. This was communicated in writing to students’ parents and guardians prior to the commencement of these programmes.”
Students who attended the school prom in November had to pay S$50 through their Edusave, while those who skipped the dinner had to pay S$110. A secondary 5 form teacher abetted in the extortion and further threatened to withhold the O level results, by writing in a Whatsapp group that students “should pay up and not put yourself in an unfavourable position” on results day.
The principal also admitted that students were not given an option to skip the prom:
“The school acknowledged that some of the Secondary 5 students perceived that they had not been given the option of not attending the dinner, even though others had opted out in advance and hence did not have to pay for the dinner.”
Most victims who did not attend the prom are students from low income families who could not afford to pay S$110 for the event.
When queried by the media, the Ministry of Education (MOE) expressed support for the abhorrent behaviour of the school:
“Schools may withhold the exam certificates of students who have yet to pay outstanding school fees after repeated reminders.”