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After breaking the law, can Terence Cao and Shane Pow continue their careers like Christopher Lee? Showbiz insiders tell us

After breaking the law, can Terence Cao and Shane Pow continue their careers like Christopher Lee? Showbiz insiders tell us
Shane Pow (left) and Terence Cao
PHOTO: ST Photos: Kelvin Chng

Local veteran actor Terence Cao was fined $3,500 today (May 25) for having 12 guests in his home for a party last October, despite phase two regulations only allowing up to five guests at any one time.

While that wraps up the incident of local celebs flouting coronavirus regulations, another actor's court case is still pending.

Shane Pow, 29, has been charged with drink driving and if convicted, it would be his second offence after his first conviction on July 30, 2014. He will appear in court again on June 3.

Mediacorp and its talent management arm The Celebrity Agency (TCA) has cut ties with him, saying they were made aware of his wrongdoing only after he appeared in court in April. Shane had filmed 30 episodes of the upcoming 130-episode Channel 8 drama The Heartland Hero, and following his dismissal, actor James Seah took his role for the remaining 100 episodes.

In a small entertainment industry like Singapore's, a small ripple can end up causing a stir. Can Terence's and Shane's showbiz careers survive the negative publicity and public anger?

Unlike Shane, Terence, 53, still has a contract with TCA, and for another reason, he also stands a better chance of making a quicker comeback post legal punishment, a media veteran told AsiaOne.

Harder for Shane Pow to return to showbiz

Ng Say Yong, the Chief Content Officer at mm2 Entertainment and a media industry veteran who has produced and directed numerous TV productions for close to two decades, said the main factor to consider is, of course, the crime that was committed, since there are different levels of severity. Committing murder, rape, and paedophiliac activities are career suicide.


Ng added: "However, if it's something against the law but no one outside of them is hurt, that is another level. There is still a chance for their careers to survive, especially for Terence.

"Even though he broke the law, it could have been committed in a moment of folly. If he's paid the price for it, be it a fine or jail time, he's been legally punished. Even for a non-celebrity, once they've paid the price, they should be given a chance."

It's a slightly different situation for Shane, on the other hand.

Even though no one was killed or injured due to his transgression, the offence of drink driving is still more severe than breaking social distancing measures, Ng said.


In fact, a veteran local producer-director that AsiaOne spoke with, who wishes to remain anonymous, felt that Shane's charge is a "very severe offence".

"This is his second time caught committing it. He should know better and he shouldn't have done it. His first conviction should have been a wake-up call not to do it again. So obviously, he hadn't learnt his lesson after that," he said.

"Shane also didn't inform his talent management about his charge, and I'm sure that infuriated a lot of people. Maybe there were people who were prepared to protect him, but after the news came out, they couldn't anymore."

Ng also explained, Shane would need a longer cooling-off period prior to a comeback. As drink driving poses a danger to their safety, the public will wonder if he's learnt his lesson. They would also want to feel that he is sufficiently remorseful and that he has paid the price.

Would producers and directors still cast them in their shows?

After a cooling-off period, directors and producers would also consider the celebs' attitude before casting them — do they appear like they've changed?


The director we spoke with said the reputation of the showbiz industry is "a fragile thing that we are all trying to hold on to and which is easily broken in these highly sensitive times".

He felt the two celebrities would need to do a lot more to earn back the trust from others and also people's faith in them before the industry invests in them again. "We are programme-oriented, it's not personal. Even if you are suitable for the role, if audiences feel turned-off seeing you, I won't use you."

Ng elaborated: "It's a commercial consideration, and the timing is important. It's harder for [their casting] to happen immediately after the case. Look at the celebrity bullying cases in Korea. They are not a crime, but they're bad publicity for the celebs. The moment the news comes out, sponsors pull out. It becomes commercially harder to justify casting them and harder to get sponsorship for a movie."

Be like Christopher Lee and Noah Yap

When it comes to local stars breaking the law, the most dramatic incidents have to be when Christopher Lee was caught drink driving and in a hit-and-run accident. In 2006, he was jailed four weeks, fined $4,500, and banned from driving for three years.

And in 2016, Ah Boys To Men actor Noah Yap was sentenced to nine months in Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) detention barracks after being found guilty of consuming cannabis.


Both are still active in showbiz, with Christopher's career getting stronger after his transgression. In recent years, he's expanded to Taiwan and even won Best Leading Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film in Taiwan's Golden Bell Awards in 2014.

To Ng, their recovery was because they accepted their legal punishment and were remorseful.

Referring directly to Shane, the anonymous director said: "Christopher learnt from his mistakes, repented, and did whatever he could to alter what people thought of him.

"He put in hard effort, kept a low profile, grinded [sic] away in his work, and earned everyone's respect. We see him in his glorious days now, but we don't know how hard it was for him back then. If you ask Christopher, he would say he won't dare to do it again.

"To Shane, let Christopher be a good example to work doubly hard."

ALSO READ: Noah Yap on being a role model after jail: I've fallen many times, but...

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