SAY no to drugs, gangs and gambling. This was the message Hong Kong action superstar Jackie Chan's late father had for him.
Yesterday, he delivered it to hundreds of screaming students at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), where he was unveiled as Singapore's first celebrity anti- drug ambassador.
The 61-year-old's son Jaycee Chan, 32, was released in February after serving six months in jail in China for letting other people use his Beijing apartment to smoke marijuana. Jaycee, an actor himself, also admitted to having been a drug user for eight years.
The incident, which made headlines around the world, made Chan, who is doing his ambassador work for free, more determined to help young people stay drug-free.
He told the crowd in Mandarin: "I never thought that it would happen to my family. I was so ashamed and so angry...
"Don't ever think that you won't be hooked. When you take drugs, you harm yourself, your family and your country too."
Chan, who is also China's anti-drug ambassador, told the media that he tried to persuade his son to be an anti-drug ambassador too.
"But he's ashamed... he doesn't dare to come out and face the media. I told him, 'Everyone makes mistakes, I made mistakes too, you need to get back up'."
He said that when he was in his teens, someone had tried to get him to sell drugs. "They talked about how much money they could make. They asked me to join them, but I said no because I promised my father not to do so.
"They called me a coward."
When asked about his view on the death penalty for drug offences, he said: "When you're dealing with drugs, you're hurting thousands of young children. You should get the right punishment."
Second Minister for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, joined Chan to launch a new mobile game, developed by NYP students and which teaches about the dangers of drugs.
"(Jackie) has decided to lend his star power to us because he knows too how difficult it is to fight this drug menace alone... I hope that he can inspire our youth to say no to drugs," he said.
According to the Central Narcotics Bureau, two-thirds of the 1,058 new abusers arrested last year were below the age of 30.
Mr Desmond Ho, a 21-year-old who worked on the app, said: "I was excited to meet Jackie, but I felt a bit awkward with so many cameras around. He is very charismatic, and I think he would be a good ambassador."
This article was first published on May 8, 2015.
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