More jail time for ex-managers of private school that awarded diplomas to students who skipped classes

Tang Yudong (left) and Pek Siew Gek were convicted last year of one count each of abetting to obstruct the course of justice.
Tang Yudong (left) and Pek Siew Gek were convicted last year of one count each of abetting to obstruct the course of justice.ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Two former managers of a private school that was ordered to shut down in 2015 were slapped with a second jail sentence on Thursday (July 4).

Kings International Business School (KIBS) in Bukit Merah Central had closed its doors after it was found to have awarded diplomas in maritime studies to students who did not attend classes.

One of the managers, Singaporean Pek Siew Gek, 42, was sentenced to 10 weeks' jail on Thursday after pleading guilty to two counts of giving false information to the authorities.

The offences were related to false items - 10 examination scripts and six attendance lists.

She had also admitted to one count of failing to comply with directions from the Council for Private Education (CPE), now known as the Committee for Private Education.

Last year, Pek and another manager, Chinese national Tang Yudong, 30, were convicted of one count each of abetting to obstruct the course of justice. Pek and Tang were sentenced to three months and two months' jail respectively on July 27 last year.

They appealed against the earlier conviction and sentence but these were dismissed on June 10 this year.

Pek, who now has to spend a total of three months and 10 weeks behind bars, will serve her latest sentence after completing the first one.

On Thursday, Tang, who is a Singapore permanent resident, was jailed for four weeks for failing to comply with directions from the CPE. This means he will serve a total of two months and four weeks behind bars.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Gabriel Choong told District Judge Hamidah Ibrahim that each student had paid the school between $717 and $6,923 for their courses.

Most of them signed up for a diploma course in maritime studies, while others were enrolled in other courses. Graduates of the maritime course usually work as bunker surveyors.

KIBS' offences came to light in 2014 after the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore told the CPE that the school had offered the maritime studies diploma to students who did not attend classes.

Pek and Tang were later told by the authorities to refund more than $170,000 to students who had not completed their studies as of April 20, 2015. The 34 students were supposed to receive their full refund by July 3 that year.

The pair were also ordered to make arrangements for each student to be offered a place in another registered private education institution by May 5, 2015.

But they failed to comply with these directions from the CPE and so far, only about $30,350 of the course fees had been refunded. The students received their payments as late as Aug 4, 2016.

 
 

Pek and Tang also did not make any arrangements for the students to be offered places in other schools.

The CPE was appointed by the SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) Board in 2016 to carry out its functions and powers relating to private education under the Private Education Act.

In a statement on Thursday, SSG's group director of regulation, fraud and enforcement Hui Mei San said: "Members of the public should be cautious and not take up offers for certifications that do not require them to attend classes... and we would advise them to raise such cases to our attention."