Truth Behind Delay of The New Government Integrated Programme Junior College (IPJC)

Note: The following petition was submitted to various Members of Parliament (MPs) sometime during the third week of July 2015.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this letter.

As this matter has escalated into a multi-agency issue, we deem it necessary to highlight it to your various Ministries. A total of 156 parents have signed this letter.


On 1 Sep 2010, MOE issued a press release announcing the set-up of a new Government JC to admit IP students from Catholic High School, CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School and Singapore Chinese Girls’ School when they reach Year 5 in 2017.

In 2012, students in Primary 6 who attended DSA talks were sold the value proposition for this new IP Programme (with no track record yet) which included a conducive new JC campus “to be located in the Bishan vicinity”. For subsequent batches, the location was specified to be “located along Sin Ming Avenue, near the junction of Marymount Road”(refer page I-36 of Choosing Your Secondary Schools for admission to Secondary One in 2014 and page I-36 of Choosing Your Secondary Schools for admission to Secondary One in 2015 booklets).

New LTA requirement-explanation or excuse?

There have been two delays to the completion of the promised JC campus. This will eventually lead to the JC being ready for the first batch of students only in 2020. This will be 10 long years after the JC was announced. We think that it is ridiculous that it would take 10 years to build a school in Singapore. This delay will affect around 1300 students and their families.

The first was a delay from 2017 to 2018. This resulted in the need for a holding site for the first batch of IP students. Up to now, we still do not know the reason for this initial delay.

Then on 13 April 2015, we had another rude shock upon learning that there would be another delay of a year and a half to end 2019 due to “a new LTA requirement”. Even the new JC Principal, Mrs Wong Mei Heng and the three secondary school principals were caught unaware.

Parents pushed for a dialogue and after repeated emails, letters and calls, and after much delay, the MOE finally called for a Q&A session on 25 May 2015. At this session, it was finally revealed that the delay was due to the Cross-Island Line (CRL) construction. It is strange that it took a total of 6 weeks for such a simple explanation to be made known. At every level, there seems to be an unwillingness to be transparent.

In writing to you, we would like to highlight that this new argument does not hold water and is totally unacceptable, whether one views it from a planning perspective or from a technical engineering aspect. To be blunt, it has been used as a weak justification for the easy and convenient way out.

A. Planning-Is it definitive?

According to what we have been told, the CRL cuts across a larger part of the site reserved for the new JC campus. As such, it is vital to ask if the CRL would inevitably affect the new IPJC structural foundation.

The fact is, the CRL is currently undergoing detailed engineering and environmental impact assessment (EIA) study, with expected completion only in 2016 (see references).

Thereafter, the Government would assess the most effective CRL alignment (which passes through the rich biodiversity in Central Water Catchment), and probably conduct public discourse on some scale before it proceeds to make annual budgetary provisions for its construction according to the planned implementation phasing of the 50km rail line.

As the situation stands now, in terms of master planning, there is some scope for flexibility that LTA can exercise by requesting the engineering consultant to entirely avoid the new IPJC site foundations. The overall impact of such a requirement being imposed on LTA’s engineering consultancy work is unlikely to affect the overall construction costs of CRL significantly, because construction costs are more tightly correlated to the prevailing inflation rate and resource contracting costs in the future.

Furthermore, the implementation phasing of the 50km CRL is subject to future economic developments such as the KL-SG high-speed rail development leading into Jurong, and the (comparatively) slower population growth rate which underpins the long term rail network expansion.

It is therefore unreasonable and premature for LTA to assume a definitive alignment and implementation timeline and ignore the immediate adverse societal impact when conducting national planning in its ivory tower. It is a long time till 2030 and there are several implementation phasing permutations for CRL. There are, without doubt, many uncertainties and unforeseen circumstances ahead for the CRL before it is completed by 2030.

Perhaps due to deliberate ignorance or incompetency of some agencies, the impact on the society, students and parents due to LTA’s definitive positioning, has been totally disregarded.

The authorities should look beyond the short-term financial benefits or the most convenient avenue. Priceless intangibles such as the loss of public confidence in the government, the “lost identity” by at least 3 cohorts of students who would not have the chance to step into their promised new campus and the failure by educators to impart values of honesty, integrity and transparency to the next generation must not be ignored. Most of all, by so easily discarding and reneging on the promise of the new JC, the relevant agencies are setting a dangerous precedent in how a responsible Government should act.

At this juncture, we want to raise a poignant declaration made by MOE DS Mr Lim Boon Wee on 25 May 2015 to the approximately 400 parents present, that “a new school site regardless of where the location will certainly take 5 years to build” and therefore there would be no way for the JC building to be completed on time. We want to remind Mr Lim that in this modern society, more complex megastructures such as the Resort World Sentosa (RWS) and the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) were completed in 3 years, as have been countless high-rise HDB blocks, shopping malls and condominiums. Does MOE with its decades of school building experience, really require 7, 8 even 10 years to construct a school which it had already planned for back in 2012 or even prior? If this is true, it will be a total letdown on the efficiency of the Singapore Government.

Suppose for a moment we agree with Mr Lim that the JC building would really take 5 years to build, with the announcement in 2012 that the JC building would be ready in 2017, why didn’t the authorities commence the building programme immediately back then? There was even a public notice issued on 22 October 2013 by the current tenants of the site, Nature Park Pte Ltd, that it would continue its golf driving range operations till end-2015. This would suggest that in 2013 there was already the secret intent to complete the JC only in 2020!!! In the meantime, parents were told otherwise in annual DSA recruitment talks and publications!!!

Is this the level of competency in planning and execution that we expect from our public service agencies, particularly MOE and LTA? The inconsistencies,lack of transparency and most of all the poor excuses offered are in total contrast to our belief and vision of our honest, efficient and competent Nation.

B. Engineering-Is it insurmountable?

A secondary reason that was offered to explain the delay of the building of the JC was that the area suffers from soft soil conditions and would require more time for the preparation work. With regards to these “soft soil conditions”, please let it be known that soft soil condition is actually quite common in Singapore and is nothing new in the Bishan area. Many high rise buildings have been built in the immediate vicinity. When constructing a building on soft layers, pile foundations are normally adopted. These piles can penetrate through soft layers of soil, extending deeper to reach harder layers to support the building. Most of the new buildings in Singapore are supported by these pile foundations.

It would not be an issue for the CRL tunnel to bore near or underneath the new JC site at Marymount junction if the new JC buildings are designed for it. Even if both the east-bound and west-bound bored tunnels run underneath the new JC site, the pile foundation can be arranged in such a way to create a 12 to 15-metre corridor for vertically stacked bore tunnels to comfortably pass through the site with minimal disturbances. Any potential re-design, if any, should take no more than 6 months and certainly not a drastic re-design as claimed by MOE officials during the dialogue. Not forgetting, the tunnels may potentially skirt the new JC site altogether or dive deeper to avoid structural foundations of the JC and surrounding site. We also note that the CRL may indeed have to dive deeper than normal due to the underground section of the North-South Expressway at the section of Marymount Road adjacent to the site.

Next Steps

We wish to work with the agencies and we hope they will reciprocate by pushing for the promise to be delivered. It is perhaps timely to bring up the reminder of our founding PM Mr Lee Kuan Yew – “Under-promise and over-deliver. Deliver what you promise and more”. This is especially true in this situation as most of us parents committed our children to six years of this programme based on the promise given us by the MOE.

Just in case it is not already clear to the stakeholder agencies, we summarize a few of the possible solutions that can be explored expeditiously if the relevant parties intend to uphold the Government’s promise to deliver the new IPJC by 2017.

Keeping to Government's promise-what can be done, practically

1a. LTA to instruct the consultant to

-skirt around

-dive deeper

-stack tunnels

and avoid and/or minimize impact to IPJC structural foundations

Stakeholders: MOE, MOT (LTA), MND (URA)

1b. MOE to shift IPJC permanent site slightly to avoid tunnels, and/or design-in redundancy for (stacked) tunnel boring

Stakeholders: MOE, MOT (LTA), MND (URA)

2. Alternatively, use another piece of land in the vicinity to immediately build the new JC building.

Stakeholders: MOE, MND (URA), Ms Grace Fu to manage cross-agency coordination red-tapes


It should be crystal clear to us all that the so-called “reasons” for the delay of the new IPJC are not technical. It is due to poor planning and poor coordination. It is obvious that government agencies are still working in silos - the very reason why Ms Grace Fu has been given a new role to “bridge these inter-agency boundaries and serve the public in an integrated way”. The lack of ownership and professionalism, poor inter-agency planning and communication, and the appalling dis-connect with “the ground” as demonstrated by the senior government officials during the dialogue at MOE on 25 May 2015 are deeply disturbing to watch, and will only continue to fan the public angst. We now also know why it took so long to provide parents with information on the “new LTA requirement”. It was a downright lame excuse!

All this then begs the question, what is the REAL reason for the delay? Is there one?

We are of the view that the reasons offered for the JC delay are flimsy and inadequate. This is not a matter to be glossed over nor one to be swept under the carpet. Let us all deal with it face on. Within these explanations lies the credibility and trust of the various arms of the Government. Many hundreds of students and their parents are awaiting a decent solution to this unfortunate matter.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Parents from

Catholic High School

CHIJ St. Nicholas Girls' School

Singapore Chinese Girls' School

(Scans of Signatures of the 156 parents attached)

cc GPC for Education :

Mr Lim Biow Chuan

Mr Inderjit Singh

Mr Hri Kumar

Mr Baey Yam Keng

Mr Ang Wei Neng

Dr Intan Azura Mohktar

Ms Low Yen Ling

Ms Irene Ng

Mr Edwin Tong

Mr Zainuddin Nordin

Er Dr Lee Bee Wah

All parent signatories


1. MOE Q&A on New Government JC on 25 May 2015

2. Singapore Budget 2015

3. URA Master Plan 2014

4. Land Transport Master Plan 2013

5. Speech by MOT on Sustainable and High Quality Public Transport Centric Transportation System, at the Committee of Supply Debate 2015 on 11 March 2015

6. LTA receives (Nature Society) Cross Island Line Working Group’s Report,Channel NewsAsia, 2 February 2014

7. Code of Practice for Railway Protection (Oct 2004 Edition)

8. Handbook on Development and Building Works in Railway Protection Zone (Jan 2005 Edition)

9. Megastructures Marina Bay Sands, Singapore's Vegas (YouTube video)

10. Annex A (Alignment of North-South Expressway Version 3

11. Wikipedia: North-South Expressway (Singapore)


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