Category Archives: ‘Then and Now’ Series

“I feel as if my life is just about to begin.”

My name is Kim, and I am 22 this year, just like Yong Vui Kong.

I have by no means had any run-ins with the Law, but I am not a perfect person. There are things in my past, just as I am sure others have, that I am deeply ashamed of; I have done things that have grieved those around me, and there are things I wish I could erase completely from the archives of my life.

But I stand as a testament to the fact that (1) people change (sometimes in ways almost inconceivable), (2) sometimes people just require time and circumstance to mature, (3) going through rough patches, stumbling, falling, picking yourself up, falling, and then picking yourself up again can do so much to make you a better person at the end of the day, and (4) as disgustingly cliché as it might sound to you, change is really all about the process, and not necessarily what’s tangible at present.

Three years ago, when Vui Kong was 19, he was convicted of Drug Trafficking, and given the death sentence. He has since then, spent three years in prison.

Three years ago, I was in the hospital, sick with an Eating Disorder. I was depressed, lacked purpose in life, and pretty much felt like dying half the time.

Take another three years away from that, and the 16-year-old me was a horrible, rebellious, recalcitrant secondary school girl. I spent most of my time in and out of the principal’s office, had way too many one-on-one “sessions” with various teachers, the discipline mistress, and school counselors who tried to make me see the importance of studying and not mixing with the “wrong crowd”. I smoked, played truant, vandalized, shoplifted, used fake IDs to get into clubs, got drunk one time too many, and did a whole host of other things I think I’d spare you the details of.

I spent a large part of this afternoon clearing out old blog posts (some of which were privatized, for obvious reasons), and I balk at the person I used to be. Some of the things I did, some of the things I thought, are almost alien to me now. I have no clue what possessed me to even think the things I did, before.

I have now (since more than a year) fully recovered from the Eating Disorder, am furthering my studies overseas, have a clear idea of what I’d like to be/do in the future, and am savouring every moment of it.

If not for the various forms of authority that had so kindly pardoned me and given me a generous share of second chances, I would not be here today. I thank God for the grace and mercy He has bestowed upon me- via the different people in my life, and I can only pray Vui Kong experiences the same.

In so many ways, I feel as if my life is just about to begin. Surely, Vui Kong’s cannot be coming to an end?

Written by: Kim

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This piece was written as part of We Believe In Second Chances’ Then And Now series, where people share their personal experiences and reflect on how they have changed from when they were young (or younger), or how second chances have helped them.

If you would like to share your own story, please do. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you live or how “boring” you think your life is – everyone has his or her own experience and everyone has a story. There is no word limit, and don’t worry about your language/writing skills – this is not a composition test!

Please send in your pieces to webelieveinsecondchances@gmail.com.

“Please give Yong a second chance in life too.”

I grew up in a lower-middle income family in Singapore and my parents were always busy at work just to make ends meet. My elder brother used to bully me and we often fought when we were young. Whenever my dad comes home, he would beat the hell out of the two of us whenever we got into an argument. Sometimes, my dad returns home drunk and would turn violent on my mum with broken furniture and blood everywhere.

I hated being at home and I got to know friends in the neighbourhood who had similar family problems. We smoked, joined gangs, got into fights and drugs both selling and consumption. Having seen my cousin in the same gang got killed during a gang fight over mistaken identity, I gradually distanced myself from the gang but still got hooked to drugs.

On 21 Nov 1999, I had a very bad trip on ecstacy and suffered fits and psychosis, my friends had no choice but to inform my parents who in turned called the ambulance. I was admitted to hospital for 5 days, totally insane and speaking a different language. Police came and my dad pleaded for a second chance because of my insanity and due to the fact that I would be graduating from a polytechnic in a few months’ time.

I have no idea why the police didn’t take any action against me even though clinical records clearly showed I got involved with drugs. Perhaps it was due to my father’s plea, I have no idea, even until now and I don’t talk about it anymore.

It took me a few weeks to recover and it was a very tough few weeks. It was the most terrible experience of my life. I am 30 years old now, earning a good income to support my parents, wife and son.

I do not think I deserve the second chance anymore than Yong. Please give Yong a second chance in life too.

Written by: Jamie Mygraine

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This piece was written as part of We Believe In Second Chances’ Then And Now series, where people share their personal experiences and reflect on how they have changed from when they were young (or younger), or how second chances have helped them.

If you would like to share your own story, please do. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you live or how “boring” you think your life is – everyone has his or her own experience and everyone has a story. There is no word limit, and don’t worry about your language/writing skills – this is not a composition test!

Please send in your pieces to webelieveinsecondchances@gmail.com.

>”He deserves a second chance.”

My story is hard to talk about but I will tell you…

I have suffered from depression, anxiety, panic, and a lot of other issues ever since I was about 2 years of age. I have never felt close with my parents (family). I was adopted when I was a few weeks old. I guess I never felt that blood connection, and we are very different people.

I have always been sad and liked to keep to my self. Art, Music, Animals and Singing have always been my passion, and that’s all I ever wanted to do.

I have learning disabilities (a disorder, as dyslexia, which affected me while in my school age). So I always got picked on, never had any real friends which made me refuse to go to school and stay home to do my art.

The school filed for me to go to court but I refused to go. I was in a deep state of depression. So I had a warrant out for my arrest. I was about 12 years old the first time I got in trouble and sent to a psychiatric hospital. They took me in handcuffs and brought me to court, I had no chance on explaining why I did what I did or what I was feeling. They placed me in a psychiatric hospital. I was unable to see my family or talk to them for days and no one told me what was going on.

Eventually they placed me on medication which in return caused me to have suicidal thoughts and then I attempted. Something stopped me. I don’t know why or what it was, but if that thing didn’t stop me I wouldn’t be here now to help Yong Vui Kong, Animal Rights and Human Rights. So I’m glad.

I was living there for about 6 months. They neglected to tell me that once you’re in the “System”, you cant get out until your 18 years old. I outgrew that placement and was transferred into a private residence for children involved in drugs, emotional/mental illness and the law. It was at that placement when I got involved with the wrong people. I took up smoking and drugs, as well as hanging around people who dealt drugs.

For over 4 years I was involved in all of that. Failed school, got serious with a loser ( I was naive to believe he loved me), I spiralled out of control. I got involved in a long term relationship with someone who was deeply ill, mentally. I was not aware of this until it was almost to late. I was engaged with this person for over two and half years. On and off.

They left the school illegally. I then got a call that they had been raped in her home by a guy they let stay over and that I should call them. Well, I did not call them. I promised them I would protect them, and so I left the school a few months before I was 18 to go be by their side.

I left illegally as well. I hid with them in NYC so I wouldn’t be found by the cops, for the summer untill I turned 18. I was high and drunk every day. almost ODed many times. Almost got arrested many times. We always got into fights. We broke up and I left their house. I became homeless (partly my fault).

It wasn’t until the cops found me sleeping in a park with other kids (homeless) and admitted me to another psychiatric hospital that I realized I needed to wake up.

I moved back with my parents. I left all the bad people. I became an activist for animal rights and human rights. I started eating healthier which took me on the path of vegetarianism.. a while after I became vegan.

I still felt lost. I needed to find a way to understand my inner self. I had no control of myself and my emotions. I needed something else. I was introduced to Buddhism. I took up Yoga/Meditation.

I have become a full time Activist/Volunteer. I have always believed in eveyone and everything being equal.

I was then alerted about Vui Kong From a good friend of mine who lives in Malaysia. Hearing and reading About Yong Vui Kong and how much we are alike opened my eyes and heart.

I immediately broke down in tears as I am now because that could be me, and he does not deserve this!

It hit me hard. He and his story touched me deeply. I feel for him, and his family. Reading his letters and his story has inspired me. He has come a long way, and turned into a more amazing being than he was before and than I ever was, or probably could be.

He has made me realize how dark I was in my past and how I need to change before its too late. And deep down behind my pokerface I was a scared, confused, and lost little kid who had no direction.

Buddhism and Yong has made me realize who I am as a person and what I’m meant to be, and do with my life. I’m meant to help others in need. Give back to people.

I never had someone like Yong to talk to… Someone to come to for guidance like I’ve heard people are doing with him now. If I did… I probably wouldn’t have gone down that road.

If Yong had someone like who he is now, back then, he probably wouldn’t have done what he did either.

I wake up at 6am every morning and check for updates on his case. I then do my yoga and meditation. And I pray to, and for him. I look to him for guidance. His words (letters) help me overcome great problems I encounter. His dream is the same as mine, which amazed me. He is a true Angel.

And now, I have become Vui Kong’s voice In NY and America. And I will not stop here. I have made it my life’s mission to fight for human and animal rights. Starting with Yong Vui Kong.

I will not give up on saving his life. I will not give up on helping make his dream of helping others, and fighting for the Anti- Drug Campaign come true.

Yong Vui Kong is not just a person. He is one of, if not the most selfless, caring, enlightened, strong and inspirational people I have ever heard of in my life.

He deserves a second chance.

This is giving Singapore a bad name as people; by murdering this person who if you let him could be the one to change the way drug trafficking is for the better. He could be the answer to all the problems. He can be these people’s savior.

If people can see how he can come from knocking on death’s door to enlightened and a teacher for other beings you would be better off.

Why shouldn’t Vui Kong be giving a second chance of life? The public needs to help Yong and the people of Singapore. We may be his only chance. Your voice may just be the voice they need to listen to.

Yong Vui Kong does not deserve this, nor do others in his situation. Saving one life will in return save many! He’s in a way saved mine. And I am blessed for getting the chance to know of such a person like Vui Kong. I will never forget him.

Written by: Elyssa Ivy

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This piece was written as part of We Believe In Second Chances’ Then And Now series, where people share their personal experiences and reflect on how they have changed from when they were young (or younger), or how second chances have helped them.

If you would like to share your own story, please do. It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you live or how “boring” you think your life is – everyone has his or her own experience and everyone has a story. There is no word limit, and don’t worry about your language/writing skills – this is not a composition test!

Please send in your pieces to webelieveinsecondchances@gmail.com.