From hateful to grateful: Thanks, dad, for helping cops put me in jail - four times
It is never easy for a parent to admit publicly that his child has turned bad.
It is even more difficult to report him to the police, knowing that his child would end up in jail.
But that was precisely what one father did - not once, but four times.
Why? His son would not stop taking drugs.
Mr Eddie Ang, 43, used to hate his father for tipping off the authorities about his drug-taking habit.
Now, that hate has been replaced by gratitude, declared Mr Ang in an interview with The New Paper last Tuesday.
His father's tough-love approach has changed his life. Mr Ang is now a housemaster at charitable organisation The New Charis Mission (TNCM) which runs a halfway house for ex-offenders at Jalan Ubi near Geylang Serai.
He now aims to inspire other abusers to stop taking drugs.
Mr Ang will never forget the first time the police came to his four-room flat in Yishun and arrested him.
He was consuming heroin in a bathroom when he glanced up and saw two police officers peering down at him from a gap at the top of the bathroom door.
He said: "I was only 20 at that time and was 'chasing the dragon' (inhaling drug fumes) at home almost every day.
"I was shocked when I saw the policemen. I was more shocked when I found out it was my father who had tipped them off."
He said he had to spend six months in a Drug Rehabilitation Centre (DRC) after his first arrest.
But it did nothing to change him.
Until around 1999, he was in and out of DRCs and prison seven times, mainly for drug-related offences.
Mr Ang, who got married in 2011 and now has a 16-month-old son, said: "Back then, I hated my father for informing the authorities four times on different occasions.
"Even though we lived in the same flat, to me, he was invisible. I ignored his presence even though we used to be close. I spoke only to my mum and one of my sisters who was then staying with us."
Mr Don Wong, founder and executive director of TNCM who has worked with ex-offenders for more than 20 years, told TNP that parents seldom tip off the authorities about their child's drug offences.
"Maybe only one in 100 parents would do so. I think most parents do not want to see their own children in jail. They would only inform the authorities as a last resort," he said.
Mr Ang, who has two brothers and six sisters, was last released from prison in 2001 after serving a four-year sentence.
His addiction began with ganja, or marijuana, when he was just 13 years old.
He used to hang out with the older teenagers in the neighbourhood. They introduced him to the drug which he soon smoked nearly every day.
He dropped out of school at 16 and performed odd jobs, earning about $800 a month.
"Every cent of what I earned was spent on ganja. By then I was smoking it every day at home. My parents saw the drug paraphernalia in my room and advised me to quit.
"But I refused to listen to them," he said.
After completing his national service at 20, the bad hats in his neighbourhood introduced him to heroin. He was soon hooked.
Mr Ang said: "I was jobless after NS so I would steal from my parents to pay for my drugs. My dad, who worked as a contractor, locked up his money in a cupboard and I would pick the lock to open it. I must have stolen hundreds of dollars from my parents."
After pushing him countless times to quit drugs, Mr Ang's father finally made the painful decision to inform the authorities.
His mother, however, was more protective. He said: "A few times, my mother would find out from my dad that he was going to call the police about me. She would phone home to tell me to leave the flat and I would quickly slip away."
But he was never able to escape the police for long.
Mr Ang decided to turn over a new leaf shortly after his last release from prison. He finally realised that his life was going nowhere.
He said: "In 2004, I decided to live at the Agape Halfway House as I wanted to leave my life of crime. I returned home once a week and decided to mend ties with my father.
"I finally acknowledged him. We chatted and now I understand that he informed the police because he wanted me to change. We are very close now."
His sister, Ms Marius Ang, 40, said she is very proud that he has changed.
The housewife, a mother to two boys aged eight and 10, said: "We were very close but I grew to hate him later when he took drugs. He made my mum cry and my dad upset.
"But we are very close now, after he changed for the better."
Mr Ang added that his father, who is now 86 and frail, has agreed to live with him and his wife when they move to their new flat in Punggol next year.
His mother died in 2008.
"I'm glad she died after seeing me change for the better," he said.