Category Archives: Cases

“Human beings are all fallible.”

When I was 19… Wow, that was a long time ago! As I remember, when I was 19, life was such a bore. I was waiting to complete my National Service. I was keenly looking forward to University and excited about my entire life ahead of me. What a contrast with Vui Kong, whose life now hangs in the balance!

While I was also from a family of humble means, I was not really deprived. No hardships interfered with my schooling and my life was worry-free and varied and thoroughly enjoyable. True misery and deprivation I only tasted when I entered the army. But there was always the bright light at the end of tunnel: ROD! So there was always hope.

During my schooldays, I had my share of mischief. When I was 17, I fell in for a while with a rowdy bunch of boys. We had a charismatic leader who taught us lock-picking and shoplifting. We went around stealing some petty stuff, breaking and entering into offices in school, and even attempted to peek into the girls’ toilet! It was all done for thrills and we were smart enough not to get caught and also to know when things were getting out of hand. The group soon broke up after an argument with our leader.

The thing is, I faced no terrible hardships or challenges. And yet, in the folly of youth, ventured into petty crimes for the sake of thrills. Under more compelling circumstances, what else might I have done?

Human beings are all fallible. Youth all the more so. As a fallible person to another, we should extend sympathy and compassion. Thus, I firmly oppose capital punishment. I wish Vui Kong good luck in the fight for his life. I wish M. Ravi success in his valiant and noble campaign. And I hope this sad story will have a happy ending: that Vui Kong will have a chance to live to teach other young people of how he erred in his youth and made good of a second chance extended to him, and how Singapore and its legal officers finally found mercy in their heart to let him live.

Written by: Jonathan Teo

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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.

“A person who has a heart gives second chances.”

I share something in common with Vui Kong. I have run afoul of the law before.

I will spare you the details of what happened to me, but I’m admitting this fact so that those who are reading this will know that I’m not shooting my mouth off.

Yes, I did not face the death penalty, but like Vui Kong, I went through the whole process of going to court for hearings and the whole mambo jumbo nonsense of the legal system.

I’m sure Vui Kong will agree with me that the process is very tiring and exhausting.

But I cannot imagine what is going through Vui Kong’s mind when he’s going through this whole process with the word ‘death penalty’ hanging over his head.

I remember vividly the fear and nervousness whenever I have to stand before a judge. I wasn’t there for Vui Kong’s hearings, but I am also sure he shares the same feeling with me.

The toll that the trial took on my family was laid bare for all to see when my parents broke down after my sentencing.

It is different for Vui Kong’s family because of the media’s interest and spotlight on this case. There is no private moment for them to grieve after every hearing. One can only imagine how much they are suffering.

3 years is a long time. Unlike Vui Kong, I didn’t have to wait so long to hear my sentence. I was in a way given a second chance with a relatively light sentence.

3 years on, I’m thankful for the second chance that I received.

Because as a Cell Leader to a group of very young teenagers in my church, I’m able to teach them what is right and what is wrong to prevent them from walking down the path that Vui Kong and I once took.

I changed because I was given a second chance. We need to believe that Vui Kong will change too, after going through what he has gone through.

Is giving him a second chance too much to ask for?

To the judges, lawyers and whoever is involved in this case, all I can say is: A person who has a heart gives second chances.

Written by: Shawn Lim

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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.