"Help Unlock the Second Prison !!"
Ah Sam was the typical teenager. He neither excelled in his studies nor failed his exams amidst Singapore's hyper-rigorous-
His kindergarten teacher loved him for his bright eyes, sunniest grin and "To Market" song. He was the class monitor and used to tell the teacher which pupil did not behave during recess time.
That was then..... now, Ah Sam started to skip school and hang out in the malls. He tried his first puffs of cigarettes in the mall's toilet cubicles with them. Ah Sam loved them for their apparent independence, carfree happiness and the "boldness", his teenage impulses yearns badly for what they seem to stand for.
His work began to drop. He put a hole in his ear lope. He could not stand homework. School was a torture. The school mates designated him a bad boy and the school office knew him as the recalcitrant delinquent. So, although he actually resented these strange looks, but at the same time, there is a kind of covert pride in the attention and fear he instilled.
Very soon, the school informed his mother that it could no longer tolerate his repeated stealings of his school mates' MP3s, purses and now, the AVA's microphone. Ah Sam's mother felt slapped in her face. Her little boy was her little boy !! He is the boy who loved to cling to her just as he did on his first day in primary school. She wanted to cane Ah Sam. To cane him so hard, never mind the cane splits his flesh..... but then, Ah Sam was a picture of distant coolness.
That night, Ah Sam had a bad fight with his father. His father was punched and suffered a broken nose. His parents applied a "Out-of-Parental-
At the Boy's Home, Ah Sam was beaten up the first night to teach him the unofficial rules so rampant amongst the boys. Instead of the country's education curriculum, he learnt the seedier side of things .....
His release from Boy's Home offered him so much opportunities to put into practice what he picked up from the other boys.
Within 6 months, he was into prison. Taking ecstacy. Ah Sam's over 18 then.
His mother wept in court and even his father cried to see Ah Sam being lead out of the court and into the deep, blue van of the Singapore Prison Servce, in handcuffs. Weeks later, they talked of how to tell the relatives Ah Sam had gone abroad to pursue Computer Science. Ah Sam's younger sister was warned to keep to the story.
When they visited Ah Sam in Changi, Ah Sam promised to be good when he came out next year. He was a first offender. He had counselling from some volunteers and the officers. He really saw the folly of his life: the theft, the defiance, the supposed ecstacy of Ecstasy. They were the opposites of the squatting toilets the inmates slept beside. The dyed hair was shaven "botak".
The reconciliation was heart-felt and complete and even though Ah Sam was physically separated by the impenetrable, thick glass pane, he clearly saw his father and mother as what they really were in his life: pure love and sacrifice.
He wanted to tell his mother how he missed her fried tomatoes omelette and the green bean soup. He recoiled as he knew he had given his parents more than enough pain.
The day came when he could leave. The officer at the gates told him that they wished never to see him again !!
Once out, he faced the pressure of night classes to re-take his flunked "O" Levels, and the incessant questions from his relatives. He avoided them like poison. He tried to look for work but his striking tattoos were never helpful. Sometimes, he drank from the train stations' sink to save the S$0.80/- per cup tea.
He lied on the garden bench to rest sometimes too when he hid there from his mother. His mother, desperate for him to get a job, resorted to nagging and whining. All these were like sharp glass pieces slashing into his livinng flesh. "Why can't you just try !!?? It must be your attitude !!" / "If only you were more like your sister !!"
He managed to land a job as a delivery man 3 and a half months' later, despite so much discouragement. He tried his best until one day, the bitchy office clerk told the boss that the office had, ever since Ah Sam came, been losing pens, liquid paper and even loose cash. Ah Sam was sniggerd upon and cold words blown across his face every time he stepped into the office to hand in the day's delivered documents. Finally, he was told to leave as the company could not trust a thief. The boss further told him that he should have listened to Jenny during the interview that ex-convicts were not to be trusted.
Ah Sam knew it was useless to defend himself. He resigned and left for home.
"Why you come back so early ?? Why can't you think properly ?? Your father' near retirement and the house needs up-keeping you know !! I am wrong to have given birth to you !! Why don't I die now in front of you; maybe then you will feel happy !!"
Ah Sam stalked out of the tirade and back to his favourite garden bench. He saw squealing boys tumbling over the soft grass, running after the pink-dotted ball. He was like that, wasn't he ??
What happened ??!!
He felt trapped and lost..... lost in his second prison.
Every year 11,000 ex-offenders walk out the prison gates with a burning desire to change. This bright flame has now been further fueled by the launch of the Yellow Ribbon Project in 2004 by President Nathan. To keep this fire burning within them, the organisers, CARE Network, needs to join hands with the community and other government organizations to create a stable social platform on which reformed offenders and their families can start life afresh. The "Keys" needed to release them from this second social prison lies with family, friends, employers and the community. Let's give them the KEY.
( See: http://www.yellowri
Please ask around your family / colleagues / friends to support this very worthy cause ...... !!
Email bb at contact@casotac.
to support the former prison inmates to re-join society at just S$2/- per Yellow Ribbon .....!!
The Yellow Ribbons are ready for collection at Camden Education Center --
Camden Education Center's address is available at www.camden.edu.
[ To request the ribbons to be posted to you, please offer S$1/- extra in addition to the S$2/- for the envelope and stamp !! ]
A) Cash - Camden Education Center ( call 64686835 before coming !! )
Camden Education Center's address is available at www.camden.edu.
B) Crossed Check to "Charitable Assistance Society"
[ Posted to 170 Upper Bt Timah Road, Bt Timah Shopping Centre, #B1-27, S(588179) ]
C) Funds Transfer: DBS Current Account - 022-900386-5 ( Email to alert upon transfer )