More to benefit from tattoo removal programme

Mr Mohd Iswandy removed the tattoo on his left forearm with help from the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association.
Mr Mohd Iswandy removed the tattoo on his left forearm with help from the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Faint white lines are all that is left of a mean-looking devil tattoo on Mr Mohd Iswandy Aziz's left forearm.

In 2011, the father of two was a hardcore drug offender hooked on methamphetamines, or Ice.

While the 31-year-old managed to leave that life behind, his three tattoos are reminders of the past.

"Sometimes when I am waiting to take the lift, aunties wanting to take the lift would see me (with my tattoos) and walk away," said the logistics assistant.

With the help of the Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association (Sana) tattoo removal programme for former offenders, Mr Mohd Iswandy managed to remove the most visible of his tattoos at a fraction of the cost.

Under the programme, former offenders pay only 10 per cent of the total cost of a tattoo removal, or about $120.

It takes up to 10 sessions, each lasting nine minutes, to remove a tattoo depending on its size and colour.

So far, 18 former addicts including Mr Mohd Iswandy have benefited from the programme, which started last August.

With the help of a fund-raiser by the National Skin Centre (NSC), which raised $50,000 last Saturday through a charity walk, another 80 or so people will benefit from the tattoo removal programme.

Sana's chief executive Abdul Karim said that many of these tattoos are gang-related and can hurt the chances of a former criminal or drug addict in finding a job and re-integrating into society.

For Mr Mohd Iswandy, who has two daughters aged one and three, he said his decision to remove the tattoo was also a personal one.

He plans to remove his two other tattoos even though they are not visible when he wears his work attire.

"I don't want my daughters to grow up and ask me why I had tattoos and if I was a bad person," he said.

dansonc@sph.com.sg