THE TEMASEK TIMES

News and views from an unique perspective

Ex-student of Northland Secondary School defends principal Leonard Koh

Posted by temasektimes on June 24, 2012

I’m an ex-student of Northland sec school, where the principal is currently in.

Personally, I was surprised and felt sorry when Mr Koh got into this trouble. In real life, he is (from what I had witnessed for about three years since he came to our school) very determined to bring up our school standard. Hence, he didn’t hesitate to interact with our students as much as possible, be it boys or girls. He is very eager to find out what our students need, which explains the new cafeteria-style canteen at our old canteen.

Perhaps this interaction that he does with his female students was a facet of his attempts to get to know his students as much as possible, and perhaps, since he was an ex-vice principal of a girls’ school previously, he thought commenting “Nice” is a good way to start platonic relationship with sensitive, shy female students.

Importantly, a few weeks after he came to our school to be a principal, he publicly gave caning to one sec-two boy who intentionally flipped his female classmate’ skirt. His strict attitude towards boys’ inappropriate behavior to girls was what etched in my memories even now when it has been almost two years since I graduated from the school.

Although I acknowledge that the way of interaction he chose is quite unwise, I hope that people will not make him another scapegoat. Under Mr Koh, Northland has grew tremendously in terms of personal development as well as academics.

MICHELLE LEE

*The above was first posted as a comment on The Temasek Times

14 Responses to “Ex-student of Northland Secondary School defends principal Leonard Koh”

  1. Lim said

    I can think of many good principals who resign abruptly . Interact and getting to know the students `as much as possible’ is a broad sweeping statement which can mean a lot of things done outside school hours which are not appropriate. If the writer acknowledges that the way of interaction is “unwise” then in what way is he being made a scapegoat?

  2. Veritas said

    Your principal is not as innocent as you think. A lowly rank school teacher would have receive a grade E and get terminated for such conduct. Even this principal is good towards student, it may not be the case towards his subordinates.

    MOE is widely known as one the most politicking environment in Singapore. Teachers in MOE are subjected to the worst mind control and are encourage to back stab one another by the management. One of the most notorious character manipulation that is 100% prevalent is at least 5 hours of meetings per week. These meetings do not have any useful agenda. The only agenda is for insidious inculcating of fear and to manipulate people into aligning themselves towards the principal.

    Only very unethical person is able to emerge and allow to rise to the level of principal.

    After years of iterations and survival, the best and most virtuous people are decimated. Only the very noxious kind of people survive.

  3. Cp said

    Wonder why we cannot seem to leave the innocent Principal alone?

  4. Terence Chong said

    Before you let this “Principal” off so easily… I would highly recommend that you read the following New York Times article to better understand what type of monsters are lurking behind the scenes.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/24/nyregion/tek-young-lin-ex-horace-mann-teacher-says-he-had-sex-with-students.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    Here’s how the article starts:

    Tek Young Lin was revered at the Horace Mann School. He was different from other teachers — a Buddhist who carefully tended to his elaborate gardens, a chaplain and a cross-country coach. He was so beloved that the English department chairmanship was named in his honor.

    But there was something else about Mr. Lin: a focus he placed on certain students, a fascination that some said looked like infatuation.

    Last week, in an interview, Mr. Lin, now 88, acknowledged that there was something to those whispers. He said he had had sex with students, “maybe three, I don’t know,” crossing boundaries he said were not so clear years ago.

    • Steve Lee said

      @Terence Chong. Good research. Had a look at the article. You are quite right. We are dealing with young, impressionable minds here in their formative years. Not only must our educators be clean but they must be seen to be clean and above board. I am not adverse to new methods of communicating with students but intimate social interaction between teacher and student out of school hours is clearly crossing boundaries of acceptability. We are not talking about a university environment where any interaction occuring is between adults. This principal should have been sacked or at the very least demoted for his very poor judgment and inability to make good decisions in social situations.

  5. SHIT Stirrer.. said

    Mr Koh approach towards his students May be a bit weird.. But why is report not reporting that he has also commented on his ex male student?? Ppl and reports are just trying to stir Shit To gain more readers…

  6. Blue Nights said

    There is such a thing called “Boundary Violation” and if MOE claims not to know about it, they should hire a lawyer specializing in Law and Ethics for Educators to update all the teachers on what is proper behavior. There are reams of papers written on this topic. And if MOE does not have a protocol on this, it is about time to put one together.

    Given the language used by this teacher, you have to ask:

    1. Why did he choose the words he did?
    (Was it a form of seduction with intent to entice? The words certainly sounded very seductive to me.)

    2. Was he invited to join his students’ or ex-students’ Facebook page?
    (His reply should be to decline…”I am your principal, I am not your friend for your safety and for mine, but I appreciate the invite).

    3. Did he go in search of his students or ex-students in order to befriend?
    (If he did, it is just plain creepy.)

    As to: “[H]e publicly gave caning to one sec-two boy who intentionally flipped his female classmate’ skirt.”

    I am going to emphatically say that that is a terrible response. The outcome with clinical help for teenagers who are considered (in his opinion) perverts, actually produces very good results (from recent studies coming out of Australia in the area of Adolescent Sexual Abusers…if that is what the student is.) Although I do not know the data for Singapore, I think that since he is not a clinician, he should have at least ask for a consult with a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.

    For more on sexual abusers, readers might be interested in the documentaries of Louis Theroux (born in Singapore when his father Paul was working at the local university). His one documentary on “Coalinga: A place for pedophiles” is a very interesting documentary. These are BBC documentaries for the purists out there.

    If I were MOE or if my child were in Northland, I would be asking a lot of questions. There is nothing innocent about this person’s behavior. I am sure it is easy enough to google the questions to ask to establish if anything inappropriate had transpired as a preliminary to getting professional help. MOE should take a look at what is happening to the Catholic Church with their Child Sexual Abuse scandals (still going through the courts in various developed countries) before talking too fast.

  7. annon said

    As a former teacher in MOE, I assured you sexual grooming did exist. Some turn out not so bad. I have met incumbent HOD who married their own students after she has graduated. This HOD was from M Sec, and his wife later become a teacher as well, studying in my batch of NIE. The school normally turn a blind eyes to this. MOE has a tacit policy of being extremely harsh to teachers but ultra lenient towards school management. The principal of W, by the name H.S was fond of telling dirty jokes in school staff meeting tantamount to sexual mis-conduct. Although he was being complained, nothing has happened to him.

    Others are more noxious. There was a former principal from C Sec who has kept his former students as mistress in Australia. Many of these pervert principals started off giving like what this crazy Leonard Koh does, eventually consummating into sexual relationship. Generally, MOE protects these people even if such develops into scandals.

    In comparison, a male school teacher will terminate summarily or ask to resign for offence less severe as this.

  8. Michelle said

    Thank you for your comments. I did not know my comment was published as an individual article.

    I posted the comment, not necessarily to deny Mr Koh’s wrongdoing (I did mention that he was unwise) but to show another side of him that the media or others probably don’t know and hence indiscriminately attack him.

    I was heart-wrenched when I first heard the news and I hoped he would not be in too much jeopardy.

    However, there is no deny that he should have thought more carefully before he posted such comments because he is a principal.

  9. Conspiracy FTW? said

    All the conspiracy theories in the world unite. While the things most of you say is perhaps, not unfounded and contain various citations; but at the end of the day, isnt it just aloe Vera of your dry soul to see people (anyone, pls! Well, except for the people behind these postings) getting punished. I would agree with some logical comments that perhaps a regulation should be shared with all educators on the damage social media can do and where to draw the line; but personally, credit should be given to educators who attempt efforts to try and bridge the gap, although, a method gone wrong.

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