“I can’t imagine how much I would lose if my life is going to end right now.”

Thinking back, I have gone a long way since my teenage years. When I was 15 to 16, I lost interest in my studies. I did not do well for a few subjects and was even made to drop one. I managed to pull through my ‘O’ levels with an average score. Design was something I would love to go into as a polytechnic course. Yet, my parents did not approve of me studying it. Eventually, I landed in a food technology course. With encouragement from my friends, I managed to complete my polytechnic course smoothly. I then went on to join a food technology degree course, which was supposedly quite tough. Moreover, it was a condensed version – an originally 4-year course which we were expected to complete in 2 years. It definitely wasn’t easy for someone like me who did not have much interest in this area. Nevertheless, I did not give up and I am about to graduate soon.

Right now at age 22, I find that I have accomplished much and I still have the chance of doing something I like in the future. I believe things do change even within a few years. I find the past me not determined enough and I did not set clear-cut goals for myself. Procrastination was also a serious problem during my Secondary school days. Experiencing different events and looking at different people have inspired me much and shaped my determination over the years. As long as I am alive, I do not want to give up on my interests! I can’t imagine how much I would lose if my life is going to end right now. No longer can I pursue my dream and aspirations. And no longer can I see my dearest family and friends again.

Written by: Goh Huibing

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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.

“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.

“It’s never too late for people to change.”

When I was 18, I was in my 2nd year of my pre-U days but working hard to get into University was the last thing on my agenda at that time. All I wanted was to be seen as this cool gal in school; I wanted all the attention I could possibly get.

I got the attention from guys definitely but that wasn’t enough. To be “cool” and accepted, I tried smoking, played truant, skip classes, spoke back to my teachers, vandalized school properties and I even slashed my wrists. For a period of time, I ate with my wrists facing down to the table to avoid getting noticed by my parents. I was rude to my family members each time they showed their concern. I repeated that year before eventually getting kicked out of school and blamed my parents for not sending me overseas.

Some may wonder but I am from a close-knitted family who shares everything… I just didn’t tell them about my new “activities”.

To cut the story short, I failed my A levels as a private candidate and didn’t get to the university. I went through depression at the age of 23 as I felt small without a degree and my pay was meagre and I started slashing my wrists again to “take away the pain” (but never to commit suicide).

Now, at 30, I have 2 diplomas from SIM and NIE (National Institute of Education) and currently pursuing a degree in counselling. This is also my 9th year as a teacher and I no longer regret my past coz it has moulded me to be who I am today. I’m rather old to be an undergrad but never too old! =)

I am who I am because of my past and because of that little hope that so many people believed in. My mum always tell me: “It’s never too late for people to change. It may take months or even years but people do change eventually.” =)

Written by: Huda

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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.

For a Singapore without the death penalty.