ACS fund-raising controversy: Barker Road school raises $270k

Highest amount so far, but shy of target; principal thankful for support

ANGLO-CHINESE School (Barker Road) raised about $270,000 at its fund-raising carnival last Saturday, the highest amount so far and just short of its $300,000 target, principal Peter Tan said yesterday afternoon.

In a letter on the school's blog yesterday, Mr Tan thanked parents, old boys, staff and students for their support.

"Many parents said they would be buying extra coupons and towards the end of the day, when I noticed old boys holding unspent coupons and I urged them to buy something, they simply said: 'We bought the coupons to support ACS'," he wrote.

"Your support, encouragement and assurance of prayers certainly lifted my spirit."

The principal had faced some criticism earlier when a 44-year-old mother with two sons in the school complained, without giving her name, that he had in an earlier letter pressurised students to sell carnival tickets.

Mr Tan told The Straits Times that funds collected from the carnival will cover the cost of various school programmes and improvement works. "Unsold coupons could be returned to the school and there were several reminders on this before the actual carnival," he added.

Yesterday morning, he urged the school to move forward. "I have communicated to our boys this morning that there should be no ill feelings among us and we will always be kind to one another," he wrote.

Students had been asked to sell 20 tickets, with $10 worth of coupons each.

In a letter to parents last Monday, Mr Tan had said the school had hit only a third of its targeted amount of $300,000, and hoped parents had been checking on their sons' efforts. "It is less an issue of 'rich' friends or relatives, but their willingness to step out of their comfort zone," wrote Mr Tan. "We will know how your son/ward has done."

Some were offended by the tone of the letter, but many others were largely supportive of Mr Tan's efforts.

Ms Charlotte Chng, in her 50s, whose Secondary 2 son attends the school, said: "I felt that he was just trying to push the boys. Some kids need a bit of pushing." Her son sold 15 tickets to relatives, and she bought the rest.

Another 44-year-old mother, who wanted to be known only as Madam Tay, said: "The letter could have been phrased better as it sounded a bit elitist in nature, but we all knew that if you don't sell the tickets, you won't be penalised." Her Secondary 1 son sold half of his carnival tickets, with her help.

Mrs Michelle Wong, 47, whose Secondary 3 son is in ACS (Barker Road), said she was not too bothered with the letter, although her son, who sold only three tickets, was told he would be called up for a talk with others who had not made many sales.

Secondary 4 student Malcolm Chua, who sold all his carnival tickets, said: "The principal could have written the letter in a less pressurising way... But I do know of some people who did not put in any effort to sell the tickets."

Accountant Joey Wu, whose 16-year-old son attends the school, said: "(Mr Tan) doesn't have an agenda. He is an honest, God-fearing person, who wanted only to raise funds for the good of the boys."

The Education Ministry said yesterday there are clear guidelines regarding fund-raising activities. If they are organised by the school, principals can decide on the specifics of such activities. But the school should do so at a pace that would not overly burden teachers, parents and students, it added.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.