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President Halimah Yacob....read more

Friday, 20 August 2010

My prison job.

My job as a Prison Rehabilitation Officer

Before joining the airline I was a prison officer. I was 22 years old when I joined the Singapore Prison Service. Being a non graduate, I was paid $190 per month as a Prison Rehabilitation Officer.

The Prisons department posted me to the Reformative Training Center ( RTC) where young offenders were kept.
My training started at the grounds of the main Changi Prison. It was a 3 month stint,learning basic law to using guns and even judo lessons under the Singapore champion Moorthy a senior prison officer.
The Prisons dept. allowed me and other staff to share a house or what we called then the prisons' staff quarters.
I remember paying $10 as rent.
RTC is still standing there today at Jalan Ulu Bedok. I don't know about now but it was 'home' to around 300 inmates.
Some of these young inmates' sentences ranged from 1 year to as many years as the President of Singapore wishes.
The ones sentenced to 'Under The President's Pleasure' were usually young criminals who committed major crimes like murder,kidnappings or crimes that would warrant the death penalty. Yes, they were too young to face the death penalty and so confined under 'TPP' ( The President's Pleasure)







After my 3 months of intensive training, I was then rostered for duty as a full fledged Rehabilitation Officer in uniform.
Before this, I was in civis and did not get much respect from the inmates.
There was once incidence that took place while I was on duty in my civics.
From nowhere, one of the inmates threw a stone at me.When I turned around, all the inmates were laughing at me.I couldn't figure out who was the culprit. Some of them were taunting me.They were testing whether I had the guts to deal with them.This was at the basket ball court and I was the only staff there.
Whatever it was, I told myself, I could not let the situation passed off without me taking any action.
They would have jeered at me and call me an " ah kuah", a term in Hokkien meaning "gay" or crudely put, balless.
I had to act but then who was the culprit? I had to be decisive and showed these thugs that I was not afraid of them.
In a split of a second,I caught hold of the nearest inmate and punched him in his face. Blood poured out from his nose. I did not feel bad because he was one of those who taunted me.
I caught hold of another one and kicked him in his balls. He let out a painful cry and fell on the ground.
By this time, the inmates numbering about 20 stopped taunting and jeering me. They knew I was a no nonsense newbie officer.

Those days,43 years ago,the inmates understood only one thing and that was punishment by force. Today I was told soft counselling works on them.
From that day onwards, the inmates did show at least a little respect for for me and it made it easier for me.


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