Dunman Badge Change Cross-Swords

November 12, 2008 · Posted in Rant Corner 

Dunman Secondary School Banner

Despite the official announcement to make it public that Dunman secondary school will have a new badge (or logo) last week; the situation remains unrest. Just today, I have received an email from the petition organiser, Tan Shao-Yi, that the matter is still in discussion; with emails exchanging between the school committee, DSA and ex-students.

The email is as follow below (you may have to start reading from bottom up). Note that, email addresses have been stripped as part of data privacy protection.

Hi Bernard, Yong Siang,

I am afraid I cannot agree that the “school setting new directions and[the] landscape [it now operates in]” offers a good reason to have the school badge changed. I hope we are not getting confused with “visions”. The school may update its vision for the reasons that Mrs Wee has mentioned but certainly not for the school badge. Even if the school badge was not changed, Dunman could still continue to seek out new directions and to adapt its curriculum to cope with the new environment (really, has there a big change in the environment it operates in anyway? Its mission is still to educate I am sure).

From the e-mails exchanged, it leaves me the impression that the DSA was not consulted but merely informed of the school’s intention to change. As I have mentioned in my note to the school and to the DSA, the DSA had a myriad of instruments at its disposal—the website, Facebook and many other online facilities—that would have enabled it to conduct a poll in an inexpensive fashion to see if the old boys and girls agreed to the change. The General Secretary even used these tools to engage the alumni in inviting them to the 45th anniversary dinner, and to respond to our solicitation for petition supporters.

Really, it is quite disturbing that the change of the school badge, motto and school song could be reduced to just a single entry in the AGM minutes and not even deliberated on further through polls and/or EGMs. Unless we can demonstrate that the AGM attendees were a representative sample, I don’t think we can ignore the requests and pleas of the now 570+ voices on the petition to save the school badge.

For your reconsideration.


On Wed, Nov 12, 2008 at 2:02 PM, Szhcornan wrote:
Dear Bernard and Yong Siang,

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight a number of points:

1) When it comes to identity, it will never be a coffee-shop talk. Try add another star to our nation’s flag, or Moon or Jupiter or change the color, anyone can guess the effect.

2) If DSA had not been functioning proper to it’s implied responsibility of protecting the school’s identity, then what’s there to build or protect for the heritage? A bunch of old folks mending the post for retirement days?

3) If DSA had not been effective in gathering Alumni for years, it is not an effective excuse to say that this badge upgrading exercise was done in good faith. The reality is: Once out in the media, you gathered more than 500 dormant old timers! Had DSA tried desperately enough?

4) Some logic is flawed. If fate of the badge were to leave to those who are intimately involved in the running of the school, which are paid to do so, to carry out the re-branding exercise, then whoever runs the school in 10, 20 years time can make another change as happily as they wish? Which part of it makes sense? Where is the balance? If any?

5) I suggest that DSA did not really understand the old student’s rational in this. “Emotion(al) was mentioned numerous times. Were these old folks really that emotional? Why ain’t we saying that it was equally rational too? DSA or the school or the MOE had conveniently ignored the rationality of up-keeping identify, image and values? Where are the answer to these issues?

6) Yes, change we need. Don’t you folks learn a lesson or two from precedent cases out there in managing school’s identity change? Where is the poll/voting result of the DSA if we say DSA really represents the old Dunman folks? What’s the sample size of the poll and details? Do we say a hand full of DSA represents? So what if it was non-profit? Would non-profit a good reason for any possible lapse? Yes it’s thankless job, nevertheless I am thankful to DSA and it’s really hard on you to mend the fort.

7) “what’s done cannot be undone” – Yes, and what’s done can be rectified! What compromise we are taking about here? A trade? Just because much resource had been put in place? Not good enough a reason! Did we saw host Taiwan’s post brand was changed and reverted? Yes, we may make a fool of ourselves, but it shows our determination to fix things right too. We can all do it right if we are determined. Question is: Are we courage enough to face our mistakes and make an U-turn! We are setting examples to our current and future Dunmanites.

The matter is far from over. The determination to make thing right will set a tone for many years to come. Or are we simply wanting to bury the mistake and make it sounds like it had never happened?

Do we still insist that this itself was just an emotional outbreak? Nah. It is a mismanagement.

Best Regards

— On Wed, 11/12/08, Bernard QUEK wrote:

From: Bernard QUEK
Subject: RE: Dunman Secondary’s new school badge
To: tansy@zz
Cc: “Chin Huat GAN” , “Edelweis NEO” , “‘Khartini Khalid'” , szhcornan@zz, “‘Simon-Peter Lum'” , “Henry Goh” , “Jackson Li” , “Lawrence Low” , “Madeleine Teo” , “Yian Tay-Business” , “Yong Siang Ching” , alphonso1118@zz, bernardquek01@zz, “Bernard Quek” , “Bernard QUEK” , alphonso111zz, kristjl@zz, micmini@zz, “pongteoph”, “Valentine” , egotrip@zz
Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2008, 2:17 AM

Dear Shao-Yi,

I refer to the reply from my Vice-President that was send to you as shown in the preceding email.

Please allow me to further clarify that the school had in fact send a representative to attend our last AGM that was held on 19 April 2008. Mrs Wee Quek Jee Eng was the school’s representative present at our meeting. During the AGM she had raised the issue of the school setting new directions and landscape which entailed changing the school badge. In that sense, the DSA had been consulted on the new developments that are happening in Dunman School.

Being an ex-student myself, I really understand how you feel sentimentally and emotionally about the whole issue. Please be rest assured that DSA as a voluntary non-profit organisation will continue to engage the school to further the interest of our Alumnus. And, believe you me, this is not an easy task but in reality a thankless job that entail little or no returns, except for the satisfaction in being able to help our beloved Alma Mater to achieve it’s dream of being one of the top neighbourhood school of the future. If not for few ex-students who had experience a good relationship with the school, the official Alumni would have closed long ago. Hence, in furtherance of the overall interest of our Alma Mater, we sincerely would like to see closure to this matter.

May I take this opportunity to invite you to join the DSA and share with us your vision for the school. Please do not hesitate to call me should you need any further clarification.

Thank you and best regards.

TEL: 96373448

12/11/2008 12:37 AM

To “‘Tan, Shao-Yi'”
Subject RE: Dunman Secondary’s new school badge

Hi Shao-Yi,

It was definitely heartening to see passionate ex-students like you feeling so much about the heritage of Dunman School and speaking up on it. Most of the ex-students that I know would rather be involved in ‘coffeeshop talk’ instead of standing up to their opinions like you do.

Regarding the stance of the DSA pertaining to this issue, I have discussed this matter in detail with Mr Bernard Quek (President, DSA). As I was away out-station until Thu, 11/11/08, I had reacted emotionally after reading through the threads and had on impulse send an email to Mrs Neo to express my personal feelings on the issue. However, since then, I have been informed that actually the DSA has been in constant touch with the school on this matter while I was away out-station. I was informed by the President that there were no formal meeting with the school to discuss on the re-branding exercise but DSA were kept updated on the progress and implementation of the new identity. Hence, the change of badge was not ‘a sudden move’ as one might have thought, but have undergone the due process of consultation and necessary advice from MOE and the other school stakeholders on the directions that the school is heading and the new challenges the school would face in future. Therefore, in that sense, DSA was ‘consulted’ based on the e-mail and telephone exchanges between the school and the President of DSA. Having said that, though we were not physically involved in the vetting of the new badge designs, etc. the view of MOE and other stakeholders were taken into considerations. In the overall interest and better good of the school we had thought that it was best to leave it to those who are intimately involved in the running of the school to carry out the re-branding exercise. The DSA believes that the interest of the larger population of the existing student and ex-students would be key considerations in this re-branding.

Rest assured, Shao-Yi that the DSA sincerely understand your position to garner the general support of ex-students on this issue, as it is indeed a very emotional one to some and to others, even sentimental. The DSA do understand your concern and they are precisely the reasons for our official existence.

However, what’s done cannot be undone, but could be mitigated through perhaps a compromised solution, as what you have done and agreed upon at the meeting with Mr Gan Chin Huat and the School. In fact, the DSA are still in the process of engaging the school and we have agreed to meet the Principal on this coming Thursday, 13 Nov 08 at 7.00pm for an update of the progress of the school and other issues. Finally, we hope that the recent episode in the media has raised the profile and awareness of our Alumnus to the public and the school. We wish to gather more like-minded people like yourself in joining the DSA and bring our Alumni to another level.

Thank you and best regards,


—–Original Message—–
From: Tan, Shao-Yi [mailto:tansy@zz]
Sent: Monday, November 10, 2008 11:53 PM
Cc: Edelweis NEO; szhcornan@zz; Bernard QUEK; Khartini Khalid; gan_chin_huat@zz
Subject: Re: Dunman Secondary’s new school badge

Hi Yong Siang and alumni group,

I am responsible for organising the online petition. When Khartini, Mr. Gan and myself caught up with Dunman last week, we were under the impression that the DSA was consulted on badge/motto/school song change. Thus, we agreed to adopt the new school badge as it has gone too far into the change process to be unwound. However, from the e-mail thread it leaves me with the impression that the consultation of the various ‘stakeholders’ did not even complete and the change was pushed ahead?

Attached with this e-mail would be the cover letter that accompanied the petition when I delivered it by post to Dunman. May I know if the DSA has received it as I also enclosed in it a note from Yian Tay that the DSA agreed to the change; unless the ‘consultation’ really meant ‘informed’?


On Sat, Nov 8, 2008 at 10:45 AM, CHING wrote:
Dear Edelweis,

This badge changing exercise is definitely a PR disaster that all can do without. But as an ex-student of the school and the present VP of DSA, we are split between standing by the school ‘officially’ yet seeing our alma mater changing her motto and badge without consulting even the DSA. ‘Careful consideration’ is definitely an overstatement on the part of the school, as we all know DSA is more of ‘informed’ then being part of the decision process. The ‘voice’ that was always mentioned is missing amongst the stakeholders, looking back.who represents the past and best speaks for us?

Please do not use the word ‘compromise’ just to appease us, we are not in the wrong hence need no accommodating. What you’ll need to do is to answer to all students, past and present, on how we should and are handling this situation. As long as there is an accountable decision, I’m sure all parties would come to an amicably acceptable agreement.

And honestly speaking, why would one think about revamping a school badge and motto? Are there any pressure, both from the social and peer to do that? Can it come up with a reason as concise as what szhcornan has broken down in her mail? Even the oldest military traditions and schools do not change..be it to keeping abreast of time and making it look modern and up to date? Are we doing it because we ‘feel’ a need to more than anything else? Is this an initiative by the cluster principal, the SAC or just the present teachers/principal? Would you please speak on this?

And we have to emphasized that the role of DSA is not just about Heritage Centre, we are here for a greater purpose, to represent and be the voice of the ex-students who still care about and want to be part of the school. In this whole exercise, our role and presence is wholly ignored, it would be appropriate that you would be able to give us an explanation after all the dust has settled externally.

This mail represents my personal stand and in no way any statement from the DSA.

Best regards,
Yong Siang CHING
Business Development Manager
Skype ID: zz
No. zz, zz
#zz-zz zz zz
Singapore xxxxxx
Tel: (65) 6xxx xxxx
Fax: (65) 6xxx xxxx
GSM: (65) 9xxx xxxx

This e-mail message may contain legally privileged and/or confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient’s, or the employee or agent responsible for delivery of this message to the intended recipient’s,you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, copying or use of this e-mail message is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please immediately notify the sender and delete this e-mail from your computer.

From: Edelweis NEO [mailto:Edelweis_NEO@zz]
Sent: Saturday, November 08, 2008 9:49 AM
To: szhcornan@zz
Cc: Bernard QUEK; tansy@zz; ysching@zz
Subject: Re: Dunman Secondary’s new school badge

Dear Szhcornan,
Thank you for showing concern for and interest in the school and sharing your views so freely. It is heartening for us to know that ex-Dunmanites feel so attached to the school. My staff and I would like to assure you that the change was carefully considered. We would like to extend our invitation to you to join our Alumni so that you can partake in the setting up of the Heritage Centre.

If you would like to come to the school to meet with some of your ex-teachers and I, we will be very happy to see you.



07 Nov, 2008 10:08 AM
Please respond to szhcornan@zz

To Edelweis NEO/MOE/SINGOV@SINGOV, tansy@zz, Bernard QUEK/SPF/SINGOV@SINGOV, ysching@zz

Subject Dunman Secondary’s new school badge

Good morning Edelweis and the Alumni Group, I was one of many graduates in 1989 Dunman Secondary when she was still at Haig Road. It was fairly interesting that after so many years, I only came to hear about her only when she came under the press spot-light, in such a manner.

To me, this badge “image upgrading” exercise had certainly yield a surprising image of other kind. It gave me an impression that it was poorly managed. While engaging the future was a right spirit forward, it was poorly managed in engaging the past. The whole exercise seems to conveniently ignored the alumni’s feeling attaching to the mother school.

Next, simply keeping the old school motto was not a compromise but an approach to entertain the emotion outburst by the alumni. Personally, I see the new badge design lacking in these area:

It did not effectively retain the basic color. Especially th prominent red was missing in the new badge.

The former badge itself contains 3 languages: English, Chinese and Malay. The new badge left only the English. Is there a need to put “SECONDARY SCHOOL SINGAPORE” for any good reason since it was without in the first place? This unique feature was unfortunately eliminated especially when the world is talking about the importance of Chinese language.

Lastly, it is not all without merit in the new school badge design. I liked the new shape of the badge, the lion and the torch looks great. Yet, doing nothing to improve it is regretful. It simply shows how we were all lacked of hindsight and determination.

These days, it is not easy for school to survive from mergers. I am very disappointed with the decision to keep the new design without making necessary amendment. If the decision to keep the new design was mainly due to significant amount of invested resource in the new badge, then I would have nothing left for the school and this letter would be my last engagement.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Best Regards


So, this is how it had started…

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