Last Friday (27 Jul), MindChamps Preschool issued a controversial letter to the parents of children attending at the school. It was condemned by netizens for its allegedly elitist and discriminatory content regarding the application for the grassroots leadership of the River Valley Neighbourhood Committee (RVNC).
In the letter, it said that parents of children attending MindChamps Preschool "have been given priority access to sign up as grassroots leaders with River Valley Neighbourhood Committee".
According to the CEO of the preschool, signing up as grassroots leaders, will allow them to "receive recommendation letters for schools within our [River Valley] precinct, for example River Valley Primary School". He added that "in order to be an active grassroots leader", parents are required to "participate actively in their program and organize up to two activities or major events".
He also said that the primary aim of the priority access is "to help ease the stress during the Primary 1 enrollment exercise", on top of giving back "to society" as well as to "foster greater synergy [...] amongst Singaporeans".
With mounting criticism coming from netizens, RVNC then quickly went into damage-control mode on Sunday (29 Jul) by posting a statement on its Facebook page, saying that while MindChamps sent the letter "with good intention to encourage parents to contribute to the community", the information cited in the letter was "inappropriate and inaccurate".
It added that the letter was "prepared solely by the school", without consulting it, thereby distancing itself from any responsibility with regard to the debacle.
Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira also quickly distanced herself from MindChamps, telling the media, "It was unfortunate that MindChamps sent out a factually inaccurate letter to parents." RVNC has "no such arrangements with MindChamps or any other organisations", she added. Ms Pereira is the grassroots adviser for River Valley area.
However, past Facebook posts show Ms Pereira being close with [email protected] Courts, having them to participate and perform at grassroots events.
MindChamps co-invest a fund with Temasek
A check on the Internet shows that MindChamps, in fact, has a very close working relationship with the government. In particular, it is a close partner of Temasek Holdings.
In Apr this year, MindChamps PreSchool entered into a partnership with a Temasek Holdings unit by co-investing in a fund for international franchisees.
The MindChamps PreSchool Global Fund will invest, directly or indirectly, in local education funds to buy and set up schools run under the MindChamps brand.
The holding company to manage the fund will be 70 per cent owned by MindChamps, with the rest held by Palace Investments, a subsidiary of Temasek's Pavilion Capital Holdings.
Temasek is said to commit some US$50 million to the fund. MindChamps is expected to earn profits from the operations of the investment manager, which will receive annual management fees from the MindChamps PreSchool Global Fund.
Temasek's Pavilion Capital CEO Tow Heng Tan praised MindChamps, "Preschool education is a growing sector due to rising demand from the middle-class population globally. MindChamps is an established brand in Singapore. We are pleased with the opportunity to work closely with them to internationalise through expanding their network of overseas franchisees."
According to information from Bloomberg, Mr Tow has been also a Board Director at CapitaLand Township Holdings Pte Ltd since September 16, 2004. He has been a Non-Independent & Non-Executive Director of Keppel Corporation Limited since September 15, 2004. He serves as Director of International Enterprise Singapore.
He also served as a Non-Executive & Independent Director of ComfortDelGro Corporation Limited since February 18, 2003 until 26 April 2017, and served as an Independent Director of Comfort Group Ltd since September 16, 2002.