Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tighter screening for teaching scholarships: MOETighter screening for teaching scholarships: MOE

By Faris – November 24th, 2010

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has revoked the scholarship given to undergraduate Jonathan Wong, 23, after he was caught in possession of hardcore child pornography videos in his computer in March this year.

The Straits Times (ST) reported that the decision to evoke the scholarship comes after the student had “committed serious criminal offences, and pleaded guilty to the charges against him”.

Wong, a third-year history undergraduate in the University of York pleaded guilty last Tuesday to 17 charges of downloading child pornography videos between July 15, 2008 and March 19, 2009 featuring girls as young as 6-years-old.

The Ministry will also tighten its processes which require schools to provide information on specific “behavioural problems” of potential scholarship holders which may impinge on their selection as future teachers.

In the case of Wong who was awarded the Teaching Scholarship (Overseas) in 2006, MOE said it reviewed the required documents and testimonials written by teachers from his secondary school and junior college.

However, it was not mentioned in those documents that he had been publicly caned when he was a Secondary 3 student at Chinese High School, which is now part of Hwa Chong Institution (HCI), after he was caught peeping in a women’s toilet.

MOE said the teachers had excluded this incident from his testimonials “as they thought that he had overcome this errant behaviour after professional help”.

According to a HCI spokesman, after Wong was punished, “he received counseling and responded well to the professional help”.

He subsequently did well and did not behave inappropriately the following year or while in junior college. The spokesman added, “His teachers thus thought he had learnt from his mistake.”

Since his scholarship has been revoked, Wong will have to pay liquidated damages in accordance with his scholarship agreement. This amount includes tuition fees at the University of York range from £11,300 (S$23,500) to £14,850 a year for those enrolled this year, and living expenses.

Based on the current MOE guidelines, applicants for teaching scholarships have to submit their academic and co-curricular activity record, school testimonials, and a written statement giving insights into their character, abilities and suitability for teaching.

Applicants will also be screened for criminal records while those shortlisted will then undergo further evaluation including psychometric assessments and interviews.

After Wong was arrested, police discovered graphic images and videos, some of which had audio and lasted over an hour long, on his computer. About 50 videos were found in which 25 were rated in some of the highest categories of hardcore pornography.

Wong is currently out on bail but his sentencing is scheduled for Dec 13. Wong can be jailed for up to five years.

Principals and teachers shared mixed reviews on the Ministry’s decision to tighten its selection and screening process for teaching scholarship holders.

Victoria Junior College principal, Chan Poh Meng, told ST that when teachers write testimonials for students, they are making a judgment call.

“They have to decide what is important to include, so good or not-so-good behaviour should be included. That has always been the expectation,” he said.

But JC teachers who have written testimonials for students say that the issue is not so clear-cut.

31-year-old teacher, Mr I. See said, “It’s good MOE is tightening procedures but can these be effectively executed? After all, teachers don’t want to jeopardize the chances of their students getting scholarships.”

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

3 more charged with Downtown East murder

By Shaffiq Alkhatib | Posted: 19 November 2010 1653 hrs

SINGAPORE: Three more youths have been charged on Friday in court with the recent Downtown East murder.

They are Chong Rui Hong and Ng Wei Lun, both 18 years old and 20-year-old Jason Chew Wei Beng.

Together with at least seven other young men aged between 16 and 21 years old, it's believed the three were part of an unlawful assembly that attacked Darren Ng Wei Jie between 5.30pm and 6pm on October 30.

The 19-year-old Republic Polytechnic student, who was reportedly hacked with choppers, died in Changi General Hospital about five hours later.

The three young men who appeared in court earlier, looked nervous before the judge.

None of their friends and family members was present in the courtroom.

The three will be remanded at the Central Police Division and will be back in court next Friday.

Court papers also revealed the names of two other alleged accomplices.

They are 19-year-old Stillwell Ong Keat Pin and 18-year-old Ho Wei Quan.

MediaCorp understands that they haven't been charged yet.

Besides the three, five other youths have already been charged with the murder.

If convicted of the crime, the eight youths will face the death penalty.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Teen slashed in Ang Mo Kio

Police have arrested a 17-year-old boy who slashed a youth in Ang Mo Kio on Thursday.

According to The New Paper (TNP), two youths got into a loud dispute outside a 24-hour fast-food restaurant at Block 448, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10.

After shoving each other, one of them took out a knife and slashed the other on the right shoulder in front of shocked patrons.

The 17-year-old victim, who left a blood trail where the attack took place, was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Madam Lim, 60, a newspaper vendor, told TNP, “I saw the victim getting into the ambulance. His arm, from his shoulder to his elbow was covered in blood.”

Residents said that two groups of youths were shouting at each other before the incident.

According to police, the victim and attacker are acquainted. The spokesman told TNP: “Preliminary investigations suggest the incident is not gang related.”

Some people Yahoo! Singapore spoke to were shocked when told about the latest slashing.

Said events manager Eric Tan, 36, “It sounds like slashing is becoming the norm for youngsters these days. Hopefully the police will come down hard on these teenagers.”

Salesman Tony Soo, 28, agreed. “Teenagers these days are badly behaved. For this incident to happen in broad daylight is a big concern. What are their parents doing? Can you imagine what would have happened if there were kids around the area when the slashing took place?”

The Ang Mo Kio slashing is the third incident after a teen was slashed to death at Downtown East and six people were involved in the Bukit Panjang clash.
This blog documents the silly mistakes made by youths in Singapore.By committing crimes in a moment of rashness they lose years of their youth behind bars