When a parent once asked Dr Ong the difference between independent schools and ordinary ones, he told her former are allowed to charge fees independently of Ministry of Education guidelines, i.e. if you have to ask, you can't afford it.
PAP MP Denise Phua said on national TV, "I think Mrs Lee is a personification of what I thought was not possible in women - to have it all." Some would say Dr Ong Teck Chin, principal of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) for 16 years, would be the male equivalent. Honours degree in Chemistry from NUS, doctorate from Oxford University, chairman of the Publications Advisory Committee under the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, an elder at Bethesda Church in Frankel estate - what do you give a guy who has everything? Gasp, surely not a boy toy?
Mr Richard Seow, chairman of the ACS Board of Governors, who announced the appointment of Mrs Fanny Tan, deputy principal of ACS(I) as acting principal of ACS(I) on Tuesday, also said the Board is currently looking into a complaint that has been directed at Dr Ong.
Apparently a biology teacher in his 30s contacted The Straits Times last Thursday and alleged the principal had "behaved inappropriately" towards him. His claims are purportedly backed by e-mail, text messages and recordings. Dr Ong had reduced his teaching duties and created a new position as his de facto personal aide, jetting off together on overseas trips to recruit foreign scholars. Yes, the foreigners competing with your ward for a place in the school are proactively sought and groomed by the principal. With the blessings of MOE. Paid out of your income taxes.
Ong, who handed in his letter of resignation abruptly on Saturday, 4 weeks before the end of the school year, in the midst of the students' final-year examinations, told the press, "I have been wanting to step down for a while. Do you know I had a bypass? Two years ago. I have done a lot for ACS and I want to move on." Well, if you have to go, you have to go. Not everyone subscribes to the work till you die credo.
The school grapevine has it that teachers were caught unawares with the developments - which had percolated through the sprawling Dover Road campus (School's Vision Statement: A Scholar, an Officer, and a Gentleman) - and they were unclear about the reasons behind Mr Ong's sudden exit. All they knew was that Dr Ong bowed out after the school's board of governors concluded a meeting on Saturday morning.
A parent whose son is in Secondary 1 said: "He is an educator, and this is a boys' school. If there is inappropriate behaviour, clearly this cannot be accepted. I would definitely want the boards to investigate and for the findings to be made public." The investigation is still on, but good luck about the "findings to be made public" part.