This is a follow-up article based on The Guardian Academy’s closure back in late February. Click here to read the original article that was written after the closure.
By Tiffany Gwee
Earlier this month, Jessiy, a parent affected by the closure of The Guardian Academy two months ago wrote in to several ministers and even Prime Minister Mr. Lee Hsien Loong in desperate attempt to find a solution to their problem. She also directly contacted the Police to seek help.
Over 200 Parents Affected by Closure
It was the end of February when the sports academy suddenly came to a close – affecting over 200 parents who signed their children up for the school’s membership. The parents were required to pay a membership fee of S$3000 to S$4200 which entitled them to the academy’s membership till their children turned 18. According to Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), the highest amount paid by one of the parent totalled up to almost S$12000 for four children.
The parents were unable to stop the GIRO payment because many signed a contract with the bank to pay by installment. CASE stated that little could be done because of the small amount involved in the situation. As according to the NGO, the amount of money involved was too “little” in this incident. Small claims will not be able to help them too because the company is still “registered”.
The academy was established in 2012 and aimed to identify the type of sports children were naturally good in. One of the academy’s directors is former national football player Mr. R Sasikumar.
Appeal to Ministers
In her letter to the Ministers and the Police, she outlined the whole problem the parents were facing with the sudden closure. This included the brief summary of the different meetings they had with Mr. Sasikumar and his lawyer.
After the detailed outlines, she mentions, “Sir, as you can see, we parents have been trying every means and ways to seek justice and fairness however it is sad to know that our country does not protect poor consumers but sly and cunning businessmen.”
She also pointed out that 2 out of the 3 bosses of the company are “totally missing in action”.
Disappointment in the Lack of Consumers Rights
Jessiy also emphasised her disappointment in the lack of protection of consumers in Singapore.
“I am very disappointed with the government and the methods of protecting the people of this country. If one of the Ministers of Singapore was the affected parent, this matter would have been published and the police would have taken control of this matter. It clearly shows that we, citizens, are not taken seriously and protected.”
Police’s Inability to Interfere with Civil Law
In reply to her email, Mr. Wee Chai Meng of the Singapore Police Force said that he “felt sorry for the experience that (she) and the other parents have encountered with The Guardian Academy”. However, he mentioned that after “carefully reviewing the facts”, they found the case to be “civil in nature”.
The Police then clearly stated that they “will not be taking any action”. The reply added that even if the Police does not take action, it “does not negate (her) right to seek civil recourse to recover your loss”.
This is despite the fact that in the email Jessiy already clearly stated that the parents involved are “merely middle class citizens who are not able to take a lawyer and fight this case as more money will be spent”.
Upon receiving the Police’s reply, Jessiy immediately forwarded it to Mr. Lee Hsien Loong and questioned the effectiveness of the Police Force.
“This is a simple example that our police force expects, citizens, to resolve our matter by appointing a lawyer. It is very obvious that the government does not care for us but expects us to spend more money.”
As of 17 April, no reply has been received by the Prime Minister’s office nor any of the ministers.