Wanted School Owner Invited for Questioning

The Ministry of Education has drafted a letter of invitation to Michael Yu, the scandal-wracked owner of two Singapore Interna­tion­al Teaching Consultancy schools in Cambodia, to answer ques­t­ions regarding their operations, an official said Thursday.

News reports are continuing to flood out of Vietnam regarding an ar­rest warrant issued for Yu after all of SITC’s branches in Vietnam closed abruptly last month and he disappeared.

Authorities in Vietnam say he is sus­pected of defrauding teachers and students out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to The Associated Press.

“We are concerned, but so far Mich­ael Yu is good in Cambodia,” said You Virak, deputy director of the Ministry of Education’s higher ed­ucation department.

“We will send the invitation to [SITC] to clarify how the Cambod­ian school is running,” he said.

Recent media reports have stated that Vietnamese authorities and In­terpol are searching for Yu.

According to a Vietnam News Agen­cy report, Yu left Vietnam for Cambodia on Jan 9.

Keo Vanthan, first deputy director of Interpol at the Interior Min­istry, said he was unaware of any ar­rest warrant and did not know wheth­er Yu was in the country.

“If [Vietnamese officials] suspect that he is in Cambodia, they might con­tact us,” Keo Vanthan said.

A Vietnamese Interpol official told AP on condition of anonymity that Yu holds passports from Tai­wan, Singapore and Burkina Faso.

Hem Heng, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said he was unaware of the case. A Vietna­mese Embassy official said he also knew nothing about the case, while an SITC official in Phnom Penh did not return phone calls or reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

Brandon Davis, a Canadian national living in Phnom Penh who worked as a teacher at SITC’s head office in Ho Chi Minh City last year, said he was told in July 2005 that Yu was no longer in charge of the schools.

“There was one point when pay was delayed by a day. A meeting was called for all foreign staff. We were told that SITC was under new management,” Davis said.

“It was very much a feel-good, don’t-worry-about-the-doors-closing meeting,” Davis added. “We were told that Michael Yu had noth­ing to do with SITC anymore.”

But despite Yu’s reported departure, Davis claimed that the school’s standards remained less than perfect.

“SITC was the perfect get-rich-quick school. Their marketing de­partment was much bigger than their education department,” he said.

“They had huge marketing campaigns offering one year courses for $100,” he added. “As long as there was a foreigner in the classroom then they were happy. There was no curriculum.”

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