She turned him around from a life of drugs and crime
Neither his parents nor the law could change this ex-convict.
But one woman did.
She came into his life as his counsellor and turned his unrepentant ways around.
They fell in love and got married in November last year.
Mr Jonathan Tan Siang Huat, 49, had been in jail a total of 17 years and endured 59 strokes of the cane for various offences, including robbery and drug abuse.
He ended up in a halfway house, where he met Madam Lilian Loo, 54, in 2006.
To Mr Tan, Madam Loo, who was then a volunteer counsellor, is a woman with a beautiful heart that is filled with love.
He tells The New Paper on Sunday in Mandarin: "She was very willing to help.
"As we (the drug addicts) didn't have much money, she would pay for food and buy things for us."
Reformed, he later left the halfway house.
But it wasn't long before temptation lured him back to his old ways.
Mr Tan recalls: "She felt that it was a waste. She was determined to put me back on the right path and urged me to change to another halfway house."
He ended up at The Helping Hand halfway house in 2008, where he slowly overcame his addiction.
Mr Tan says: "She is very good to me. She would visit me, buy food for me and encourage me."
He confesses sheepishly that he had always liked Madam Loo from the start, but thought she was married.
He says: "I would secretly pray that my future wife would be like her."
Then three years ago, he found out by chance that she was a divorcee with five grown-up children in their 20s and 30s, and with three grandchildren.
Mr Tan says: "I was very happy. This was an opportunity for me."
He started courting her by helping out at the elderly centres she volunteers at.
"I'd help her carry things. And she'd chat with the elderly while I sang for them," he remembers.
Madam Loo was resistant at first.
He says: "She didn't trust drug addicts like me because she felt we are unreliable."
But Mr Tan was undeterred and gradually proved that he had changed.
"I showed her through my actions over time. If I was tempted (by drugs), I would think of her," he says.
"I didn't want to disappoint her. She changed my life."
And to turn his life around, Mr Tan took up courses in landscaping. He learnt how to drive - not just a car but a lorry and a bus.
He learnt how to operate an excavator.
Mr Tan says with conviction: "Behind every successful man, there's a woman. I'm sure she's my soulmate."
With Madam Loo's encouragement and support, Mr Tan set up his own business.
Madam Loo, who is now a full-time social worker, has previously worked as a chef and has also owned a bubble tea shop.
Mr Tan's company, The Helping Hand Landscape Cleaning Services, has six staff members who are also ex-convicts.
He says: "In fact, we will not hire those who are not ex-offenders."
He believes he has been given a second chance in life and would like to give others a second chance as well.
"If I can do it, they can too. If they are willing, they too can do it. I help them by giving them a job and a salary, so that they can sustain their families," he says.
With some savings, Mr Tan bought a lorry and applied for a flat in Punggol.
On Valentine's Day two years ago, he proposed to Madam Loo.
With one red rose in his hand, he asked her: "Will you be my woman?"
Shyly, she accepted his gift and they held each other's hands.
Sharing their joy at their wedding were 800 guests, who are mostly friends and people whose lives the couple have touched.
That Madam Loo is five years older does not bother Mr Tan.
He says: "Age doesn't matter. What matters is her heart, the common goal we have and the love we feel for each other.
"We are very compatible and our hearts are together."
And her children don't mind his past.
He says: "They were very encouraging and gave their blessings because they felt their mother has finally found someone who can make her feel secure.
"Before this I have nothing. But now, there's nothing more I want. She has brought me a lot of hope and blissfulness."