Raffles Press can confirm that Mr. Chan Poh Meng, the current principal of Victoria Junior College, will replace Mrs. Lim Lai Cheng as principal of Raffles Institution at the end of the year. This officially brings an end to Mrs. Lim’s five years in charge of the re-integrated RI (six, as the principal of RJC), a development that Raffles Press managed to report on earlier this week. Mrs. Lim gave a short, but heartfelt address to the school during morning assembly on Thursday, informing the school that she “will be graduating with the Year 6s at the end of this year.”
“It’s perhaps a part of the colonial legacy that people feel they are better respected and admired if they can speak English well.”
– Mr. Chan speaking to the Straits Times in 1999 regarding the decline of Mandarin in Singapore.
Mr. Chan is an ex-Rafflesian, who studied at both the Bras Basah and Grange Road campuses in the 1970s. Much like Mrs. Lim, Mr. Chan started out as a GP teacher, and even has a strong Hwa Chong connection – he was with HCI as an educator for 16 years, leaving his eventual post as vice-principal of the school to become the principal of Outram Secondary School in 1998. While with Outram, he oversaw its transition to a $27 million new campus located atop York Hill. In 2006, Mr. Chan became the principal of VJC, a position he has held till this day. He was one of the main driving forces behind VJC becoming a seamless 6 year Integrated Programme school in 2012, via the Victoria-Cedar Alliance. Unknown to many, Mr. Chan also has an artistic side – he apparently acted as an “enigmatic VIP” in a 1991 bilingual production put up by Hwa Chong alumni!
“This is a vicious cycle. If the minority students do not come, they will never be able to experience what we offer and the image will remain, rightly or wrongly.”
– Mr. Chan speaking to the media in 1995 about non-Chinese students in Hwa Chong.
Raffles Press managed to get in touch with a number of students and alumni from VJC, who all expressed their surprise and sadness upon hearing the news. A J2 student shared, “I think he’s an amazing principal who takes the effort to know your name and talk to you every time he walks past you!” An alumnus of VJC who now studies in the United States said, “Mr. Chan is nice and approachable, and looks out for the student body. However he can be a tad too ‘soft’ though at times.”
Mr. Chan takes over at what could be considered a crossroads in RI’s 190 years of history, amidst growing calls for a more equitable educational system, and what has been a government-led shift toward a more expansive definition of success in Singapore. We would like to welcome Mr. Chan back into the Raffles family of schools, and wish him all the best as we forge ahead toward a brave new future.