On Assignment
A Young Life, Now Back on the Right Path
With love, support and a will to change for the better, mistakes made in one’s youth can be overcome.

“I called her Meemee, like ‘mummy’,” said Jane 26. She was sharing about her aunt, a mother-figure who cared for her during her childhood whenever Jane’s parents were at work. Sometimes Jane would stay with her aunt for five days a week, until her parents brought her home for the weekend. 

When Jane turned 13, she moved back home for good, but her parents were absent from home for extended periods. This affected her sense of self. “I saw how my peers were doing better than I was,” she recalled. “They seemed very happy, unlike me.”

12 July SPS CARE Network Exoffender  Jane Tan
Jane’s journey of rehabilitation involved taking responsibility for her actions and resolving to change for the better. PHOTO: Desmond Ang

With little supervision at home, Jane began to stray. “I was given a lot of freedom,” she said. “I began mixing with the wrong company and got involved in rioting; I wanted to feel the adrenaline rush and do things that were against the law.” 

Accepting Responsibility and Embarking on Change

For these offences, Jane was arrested at 13 and sent to a Girl’s Home for two years. But the prospect of rehabilitation remained far away. In May 2011, Jane was sentenced to the Reformative Training Centre (RTC) for 18 months after she was found guilty of forging Government documents. 

And that was when she finally resolved to mend her ways. “The moment I stepped into prison, I knew I had to change,” she said. 

One major reason for Jane’s transformation was that her aunt had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. “Even though she was undergoing chemotherapy at the time, she continued to support me,” said Jane. “She never criticised me, even when I was first released from the Girl’s Home. And when my parents told me I’d never change, she was there to give me support.” 

Committed Volunteers, Understanding Supervisors

Determined to make up for lost time, Jane completed her GCE “O” Levels during her time at the RTC and receiving Distinctions in Science, Mathematics, Principles of Accounting and Mandarin. “All my peers had graduated, but I didn’t have a proper certificate,” she said. “So I worked hard, and got help from certain self-study courses from committed volunteers.”

It has been five years since Jane was released from the RTC, and she has only looked forward. Having taken on a retail job, she was given the opportunity by her supervisor to take on other responsibilities. She’s now working as a Visual Merchandising Executive and studying for a part-time Diploma at a polytechnic.

“I told myself that I had to save enough within three years to complete my studies,” she explained. “Getting a Diploma is one of my aunt’s wishes, so that I can have a better future.”

CARE Network
Find out how the CARE Network is bridging barriers with ex-offenders through the use of technology.

Read the speech by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Mr Amrin Amin at the CARE Network Workplan Seminar 2018.
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Desmond Ang
  2. 12 July 2018
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