Pierre Png: I was a bully
Actor Pierre Png tells Camp Ace youths about his own misbehaviour when he was younger
Most of us know him as the henpecked brother of Phua Chu Kang in the popular TV sitcom.
But yesterday, actor Pierre Png confessed he used to be a bully, got involved in fights and teased girls in his younger days.
He revealed this to 26 youngsters at a sharing session yesterday during their stay at Camp ACE VII at the National Police Cadet Corps (NPCC) Campsite at Pulau Ubin.
The two-day camp, which ended yesterday, was organised by the Singapore Police Force and was catered to youths aged 13 to 18.
They are part of the Streetwise Programme, which aims to steer youths associated with gangs away from gang activities.
The camp helps instill self-confidence through team-based activities and self-reflection sessions.
Speaking to the media, Png, 41, said he chose to share his past in order to show the participants that he could relate with how many of them were feeling.
He said: "I wish to make them realise that everyone goes through the same thing and that they have a lot of support.''
"I feel that hearing these things from people who aren't paid to help but still make the effort to do so might make a bigger impact on the youths," added Png, who plays a brilliant but socially awkward forensic pathologist in the police drama Mata Mata: A New Era.
Also at the camp to share their experiences were two former gang members who have since turned over a new leaf.
One of them was Mr Kim Whye Kee, 35, who joined a gang when he was in Secondary Three, was active in drug and gang-related activity and served a total of 10 years in jail.
Released in 2008, he now has a fine arts degree from Lasalle College of the Arts and runs Beacon of Life, a self-help group for ex-offenders.
Mr Kim said he felt that the best way to get at-risk youths to step away from a life of crime is to expose them to the many other possibilities the world has to offer.
He said: "Young people don't like it when you force them to do things, they want to be able to choose for themselves
"Instead of just being anti-gangster, we should also show them all the things they can be and all the places in the world that they can go to, so they know there is so much more to life than being a gangster."
One of the camp's participants, who wanted to be known only as Peter, 16, said that he joined a gang when he was 13, as he was bullied by his seniors at school.
"They would take my pocket money and humiliate me. And when they bully you, you would think of fighting back."
He added: "I didn't think of telling my teachers about this at the time as they would only call their parents, at most. I thought back then that I should let them feel the same way I felt when they bullied me, that's why I ended up joining the gang."
Peter, who has left the gang, said that he learnt through the camp that he should channel his emotions into more meaningful things.
He said: "I learnt how to use my bravery and courage to do something more meaningful. Using your courage to get into fights is meaningless as it only ends up hurting both parties."