Singapore is mourning the recent Mt Kinabalu tragedy with a significant number of victims (Death toll: 6 students, 1 teacher) from Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS), and several students still unaccounted for.
Its convenient for the authorities to classify this tragedy as a ‘natural disaster’, and easy for MOE and Mr Heng to say “give full support to students and family” and downplay the long-term damage by claiming “students are a little shaken, but otherwise they are fine”.
However a few pertinent questions inadvertently come to mind, and an independent COI needs to be conducted:
1. 58 students, and 8 teachers from two other Secondary Schools (Greenridge Sec. and Fuchun Sec.) safely descended the mountain, despite the earthquake, as they took the normal route.
Profit-driven hiking agencies will claim “climbers and non-climbers aged between 10 and 70 who are fit and healthy” can do the VIA FERRATA route, it is still undoubtedly a more strenuous route which requires a higher level of physical fitness and outdoor experience than the regular route. “Physical training such as climbing stairs” DO NOT suffice for this rope/obstacle course in high-altitudes.
As the Principal of TKPS, was there negligence on Mrs Caroline Wu’s part for approving her CCA HOD to allow inexperienced Primary 6 students (age 12) to take the more arduous VIA FERRATA route?
2. Did Mrs Wu consider that the children would be affected by fatigue, low temperature, rain, thin air and altitude sickness all of which would increase the risk, even without an earthquake?
3. What due diligence did MOE and Perm Sec conduct before authorizing risky ‘learning trips’ such as mountaineering, hiking, etc
4. Is TKPS trying too hard to differentiate itself from other schools, that in their foolhardiness of “pushing the frontier”, the CCA/PE HoD (Mr Mohammad Ghazi) initiated this OMEGA CHALLENGE at Mt Kinabalu (4,095m)? “Tomorrow, we will take on the next challenge. VIA FERRATA! Bring it on, I say!” (4 June 2015) http://tkpsomegachallenge1.blogspot.sg/2015/06/reached-pendant-hut.html
Perhaps for young primary school children (Age <=12), MOE and TKPS could have been more prudent by going to Mount Ophir (1,276 m) coupled with an Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) weekend in Pulau Ubin. 5. The surviving students and teachers of TKPS are also the victims of this misadventure, planned and authorized by MOE and Mrs Wu. While Mr Heng and Mrs Wu can sleep soundly at night, the survivors will live with PTSD, guilt, nightmares and possible psychological disorders due to MOE and TKPS's mismanagement. How will MOE and TKPS compensate the students and their families for the student's deaths and long-term trauma? A Concerned Parent Mr Edward Tan NOTE: Parents may voice your concerns to: TKPS General Office: 6344 4728 / 6344 1489, HOD Room: 6346 0974 TKPS: [email protected] Mrs Caroline Wu (TKPS Principal): [email protected] Mrs Eliza Yeong (TKPS Vice-Principal): [email protected] MOE: [email protected] MOE Hotline: 6872 2220