Video on reformed gangster gets 230k views
HE WENT from juvenile delinquent to award-winning recruit.
Tan Chow Ken's early teenage years were plagued with everything punishable - smoking at 13, playing truant weekly, failing in school, running away from home and joining a gang.
"On the rare occasions that I turned up in school, my teachers tried to advise me to stop the nonsense. But I just didn't give a damn," the 21-year-old tells The New Paper. But a near-death incident before his 16th birthday changed his mind.
Mr Tan recounts, on that fateful day, he was chatting with two friends at a Housing Board block.
"A man came out of nowhere and slashed me on the back of my head and twice on my back. I managed to turn just before the second hit and realised my attacker was a guy from a rival gang. The next thing I knew, I was running for my life."
He ended up at his friend's home before he was rushed to hospital. The trigger to change his life was the moment Mr Tan saw his mother at the hospital.
"I had never seen my mother in tears ever in my life until that day. It was then that I realised how much I had hurt both my parents."
After spending six days in hospital, Mr Tan was determined to "leave everything behind and start afresh".
His turnaround was the highlight of a six-minute video shared on cyberpioneer's Facebook page on Thursday night. The clip garnered more than 188,000 views, over 1,400 likes and 825 shares in just two days. As of 8.30pm yesterday, it had over 230,000 views.
While Mr Tan doesn't think the video made him "a star", he is surprised at the feedback he has received since it was uploaded. He says: "It is good to see that I made my family proud with the video."
In 2009, he joined Care Corner's Crossroad Youth Centre in Admiralty. Through programmes there, he learnt how to be patient and handle difficult situations amicably.
Soon after, Mr Tan took on a leadership role as a youth ranger where he helped other at-risk teens.
The change also helped him when he enlisted for national service. He emerged from the Singapore Army as his company's Best Recruit during his basic military training. There, he was selected for the Specialist Cadet School, where he graduated with a Silver Bayonet - an award given to the company's second-best cadet.
Mr Tan, who today manages a blogshop, is also studying construction engineering full-time at the Building and Construction Authority. Now that he is a father of a two-year-old girl, his priority is "to be a good father and a good husband".
His spouse, housewife Mabelene Tan, 19, says: "When he told me what had happened to him, I was surprised that he was still alive. I just can't picture my husband as that rebellious kid."
THE NEW PAPER