Arrest helped teen appreciate parent’s sacrifices

country road

A brush with the law was the pivotal point in Mr Alvin Lee’s life.

When he was 17 years old, he was arrested and detained for three days as a suspect in a rioting case, alongside some of his fellow gang members.

He felt ashamed and spent the time reflecting on his years of disobedience as a rebellious teenager who had flunked most of his subjects in secondary school and been expelled from ITE College Central in 2004. “Up to that point, I had not taken a step back to think about my father’s sacrifices. As a vegetable seller, he worked 12-hour days, which started at 3am. And here I was wasting my time with bad company.”

Instead of admonishing him, his father, who had bailed him out, asked him what prison food was like. “He did not scold me harshly,” said the 26-year-old. “Instead, he asked me softly and gently if we should head off to eat my favourite char kway teow from a nearby hawker centre after I told him prison food was terrible. I was moved to the point of tears. Instead of punishing me, he showed me love.”

Since then, Mr Lee has been determined to make it up to his father by getting his life back on track. In 2009, he enrolled in the ITE to study communications technology, graduating with a perfect grade point average of 4.0. Now in his final year at Singapore Polytechnic, where he is pursuing a Diploma in Computer Engineering, he wrote to The Straits Times’ Celebrating Fatherhood microsite to share his love for his ailing father, Mr Lee Thiam Hock.

The 77-year-old, who had a stroke two years ago, spoke of his pride in his son, saying: “I’m glad he’s now self-motivated. His destiny is in his own hands.”


Source: The Straits Times, 14 Jun 2013

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