Father Sues ACS (B) Principal Over iPhone
(Update: An earlier version of this article referenced the BBC website, which has now been updated so as not to identify the parties involved. We have amended our article accordingly.)
By now, you should have heard about the father who sued Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) after his son’s iPhone 7 was confiscated.
The case has unsurprisingly been covered extensively by the mainstream and alternative media in Singapore. However, upon further investigation, MustShareNews gleaned that most news outlets like The New Paper and The Straits Times did not manage to find out one crucial thing about the identity of the father.
According to online legal documents we have seen, a lawyer who represented the father in court might actually be the father in question. In short, the father, whom we shall call A, might have represented himself in court.
It all started on March 8, when A’s son was caught using his phone during school hours, and his father wasn’t happy that it was only going to be returned after 3 long months.
It didn’t help that A was informed of this incident by the school on March 20, 12 days after it happened.
On March 21, A’s son had his phone confiscated by the school, but its SIM card was returned to him, along with a “Receipt for Confiscated Items” that said the phone would be returned to him 3 months later.
Fuming, A wrote an e-mail to the school, demanding that the iPhone be safely returned. Here’s what it said, according to lawnet:
I am writing to you to request that the phone be returned to [my son]. Firstly, it is my mobile phone and your retention of the phone amounts to the tort of conversion. Secondly, a 3 month confiscation is disproportionate to the offence. Thirdly, [my son] has assured me that he will not break this rule again. Fourthly, [my son] thought that he was allowed to use the phone as his classes had ended for the day.
He needs his mobile phone for a number of reasons and it is not acceptable that it be taken away.
When the father did not receive a reply after 2 days, things took a turn for the worse — a law firm issued the school a letter of demand, and according to court documents it was the father’s law firm.
So there’s a chance that the father in question is a lawyer at the law firm.
Failing to get a reply yet again, he commenced legal proceedings against ACS (B) on March 29.
Why Didn’t Anyone Realise This?
It’s not every day you have the media outlets in Singapore simultaneously failing to spot an important detail across their publications, so what could have been the cause of the confusion?
We think the cause can be traced back to the court documents of the case. The names of the plaintiffs and defendants weren’t mentioned. Hence, this would gave the impression that the plaintiff and lawyer were 2 separate persons.
In any case, District Judge Clement Julien Tan turned down the request, ruling that the principal was justified in not returning the phone, as the school rules were clear about the confiscation.
Even if the judge had ruled in favour of his son, the court fees would have far outweighed the “pain” in waiting 3 months for the phone to be returned, even though he did represent himself.
Whether ACS (B)’s punishment was excessive is up for debate, but the negative coverage stemming from netizens’ criticisms of his apparent helicopter parenting style would have cast him in a bad light as well.
Lose the battle, and the gloating from netizens would only be louder — his firm’s website currently appears to be inaccessible.
Oh, can we also propose to make the court documents a little clearer — was there any reason to censor the names of the plaintiffs and defendants, since both of them are way past the legal age?
It’s crazy to think that if not for a foreign media outlet, we might not have known the full story of what happened right here in Singapore.