Yellow Ribbon success stories lauded

SINGAPORE - Former drug offender Reuben Narain has managed to remain drug-free ever since his release from prison 17 years ago.

But he admitted that putting his past behind him is still a struggle sometimes.

"It's like living life against the current. You get very tired," he said. "But you don't do it alone."

Mr Narain, now 65, works as a senior assistant counsellor at the National Addiction Management Service, and he is one of the Yellow Ribbon Project's success stories.

His journey was lauded by the Senior Minister of State for Education and Law, Ms Indranee Rajah, at the Celebrating Second Chances award ceremony yesterday, where he was acknowledged for his outstanding achievement.

The ceremony is held to recognise ex-offenders who have remained crime- and drug-free for at least three years after their release from prison.

This is the fourth time that the ceremony has been held.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ms Indranee said that the award recipients had "affirmed the trust of those who offered (them) help".

"Your success goes to show that nothing is impossible if you truly set your heart and mind to it."

At the ceremony, 140 ex-offenders received awards yesterday. Six awards were also given to individuals or organisations that have supported the Yellow Ribbon Project for at least three years.

Singapore Prison Service statistics for this year show that about one in four ex-offenders - 23.6 per cent - is detained or convicted and imprisoned again within two years of release.

A 174-page book was also launched at the ceremony to commemorate the Yellow Ribbon Project's 10th anniversary. It features the stories of 38 individuals involved with the project, and can be downloaded for free on the project's website.

Another ex-offender, Mr Robin Tay, received a certificate of merit achievement yesterday.

He had formerly committed drug trafficking and cheating offences, but was released from prison in 2007. He now works as a programme manager at a halfway house, The New Charis Mission.

Mr Tay said that the award was a "show of affirmation".

"I don't have to be ashamed of my background," the 37-year-old said. "It's become a stepping stone, instead of a stumbling block."

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