SUNGAI LONG, Selangor (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A tuition centre in Sungai Long, Kajang, of Malaysia's state of Selangor was slammed for allegedly putting up banners featuring the photos of four pupils whose parents purportedly had not paid their fees, reported the major Chinese dailies in Malaysia.
Several such banners were spotted around Sungai Long and Cheras last Friday (Oct 2) evening.
Pictures of the banners were posted on social media, with many netizens slamming the move taken by the centre, saying that its action was unethical.
One parent, 39-year old Ms Vinne Chin, said that although she had settled the tuition fees after her son left, the centre's management claimed she did not settle her May payment.
"I paid his fees on May 12. Suddenly in July, they called and said I did not pay. I was shocked and they resorted to humiliating my son by posting a banner in his school," said the distraught Ms Chin when contacted by The Star.
She said her son did poorly in his exams and she thought he would not improve there.
But she said she stopped sending her son to the centre when he did not improve academically and did poorly in the examinations.
"May was his last month. He was there for only five months."
Ms Chin said she received a warning on Sept 12 in a text message in Mandarin stating that if she did not pay her tuition fees immediately, they will take drastic measures.
Last Saturday, she was stunned when she saw a banner at a school gate in Semenyih featuring four children, including her son.
The banner, which was captioned in Mandarin, read: "Owe Tuition Fees but refuse to pay up! Do they deserve such parents?!"
"I saw a banner of the four kids, including my son, at SRJK(C) Sin Ming, Semenyih on Oct 3. We took it down immediately," said Ms Chin.
"I was shocked that they resorted to humiliating my son this way," she said.
Another mother, known only as Ling, told Guang Ming Daily that she learned about the incident after her friends informed her that her son was featured on the banners.
She admitted that she owed the centre RM600 (S$194), adding that she had been facing financial difficulties.
However, denouncing the move as "too much", she said she would settle the fees and demand an apology.
The operator of the centre denied putting up the banners, but said she recognised two of the pupils who had not paid their tuition fees.
She said although the centre, which has been operating for seven years, did ask the parents to settle the fees, it would not resort to such measures.
Balakong assemblyman Eddie Ng urged the parents concerned to contact him so that he could help them to lodge a police report.
"We will demand an apology from the tuition centre," he said.
At a meeting with the parents on Tuesday (Oct 5) morning, Mr Ng said that he had told the parents very clearly that he felt the situation was unfair for the children.
"I am trying to be diplomatic in this situation. I have spoken to the parents and I feel pity for their kids," said Mr Ng.
Mr Ng said the daughter of one of the parents did not want to go to school because she is afraid that her friends would humiliate her because of the banner.
He however added that he was not against any party in the dispute, adding that if the centre does not respond in the next few days, police action would be taken.
"I also hope that the parents do not take advantage of the situation because I am helping them with the issue of the banner," added Mr Ng.
He also said that if the parents had not paid their dues, they should make arrangements with the tuition centre to settle their dues quickly.
Mr Ng said he had tried contacting the tuition centre, but no one responded.
Many netizens have slammed the centre's move, saying that it was unethical of the centre to act like a loan shark.
"This will surely have an impact on the pupils. They will carry this shame as long as their friends can remember," commented Syaza Syaz on Facebook.
Facebook user Lennon Low shared his experience during his time in Ipoh.
Mr Low said three tuition centres there opted to provide him with free tuition after his father passed away.
"Sometimes unforeseen financial difficulties are not the students' fault. You can stop them from going to your tuition centre but you cannot put the students in disgrace by shaming them," he said.
Shanti Gurunathan lambasted the tuition centre by commenting that they have "nothing to teach". "The children cannot be humiliated for the mistakes of the parents. What happened to the art of conversation?"