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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.