Asia Minute: Cheating Scandal Rocks Singapore

Apr 17, 2018

Credit Alberto G. / Flickr

Investigators in Singapore have uncovered what they call a “highly sophisticated” cheating scandal involving standardized school tests. The case involves allegations of a network of organizers and half a dozen clients. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

A cheating scandal unfolding in Singapore sounds like a “Mission Impossible” movie. Students hunched over tests with tiny flesh-colored ear pieces connected to blue tooth devices tucked into the folds of their clothing.

Prosecutors say one of the operatives also took the test, turning on a hidden smart phone with a video connection; feeding it back to co-conspirators who looked up answers to the questions. Then they read those answers into the tiny earpieces of their clients—six Chinese students taking exams eventually leading to the equivalent of a high school diploma.

The scheme took place in 2016, and was discovered when one of the exam’s monitors noticed “unusual sounds” coming from one of the students.

One of the teachers pleaded guilty on Monday—while the rest of the people involved are on trial this week.

The accused all work as tutors for a private institution called a “tuition center”—basically a private school helping students prepare for standardized tests.

Students at Nan Hua High School in Singapore gather in the school hall.
Credit mailer_diablo. / Wikimedia Commons

The scandal has been met with indignation in Singapore, where many residents take pride in its reputation as a meritocracy.

Transparency International lists Singapore as number six on its “Corruption Perceptions Index”—that’s ten spots higher than the United States.