By Liew Hanqing
HE THOUGHT he could get away with igniting a firecracker in school.
But a moment of mischief has cost the Singapore Polytechnic (SP) student a leadership position, and his CCA points.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an SP staff member told The New Paper that the student had bought firecrackers in Perak, Malaysia, while attending a leadership training camp from 30 Sep to 3 Oct.
"Quite a number of students had bought firecrackers and the staff told them to dispose of them before they pass through customs," he added.
But a student leader from one of the polytechnic's academic clubs ignored the instructions and smuggled a firecracker into Singapore.
The student and two friends later set it off at the Poly Centre on the campus. The Poly Centre is where the polytechnic's academic club rooms are located.
Said the staff member: "Unfortunately for them, the Current Affairs and Debating Club was having their camp at the time, and they made a complaint."
A spokesman for SP confirmed the incident.
Said the spokesman: "An investigation was immediately launched when the incident was reported. The student has admitted to the wrongdoing despite having been advised repeatedly by staff against purchasing and bringing such items into Singapore."
The spokesman said the student has been counselled and "is remorseful".
"We do not condone such misconduct and will take appropriate disciplinary actions against the student," the spokesman said.
Still, the staff member felt that it was a serious offence and the student should have been punished accordingly.
"Other students will talk about the incident - what kind of message is the polytechnic sending to its students if this student is let off too lightly?"
It is illegal to import, possess or let off fireworks in Singapore. If convicted, offenders may be fined up to $5,000, jailed up to two years, or both.
Educators contacted by The New Paper were divided on whether the student should have been punished more harshly.
A secondary school teacher felt the punishment was too light. She said: "It is fortunate that no one was hurt, but there have been cases where children were badly hurt in accidents involving firecrackers.
"The student should have been punished more severely to drum in the message that such matters are not to be taken lightly."
But another secondary school teacher felt the punishment was reasonable. He said: "What the student did was wrong, but he has already been stripped of a leadership position. That's good enough."
A junior college teacher did not feel the offence was a big deal.
She said: "The student is still young, and no harm was done, so to speak. It's not as if the student brought firearms into Singapore. The fact that he got caught was probably a good enough lesson for him."
This article was first published in The New Paper.