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Much to learn from ex-convicts who 'don't make it'

It was inspiring to read Mr Sunny Swee's story ("Ex-convict helps others stay out of trouble"; last Sunday).

Stories like this have been published in the media from time to time. But what is not covered are stories where former offenders and addicts do not turn their lives around. As a counsellor, I believe that the public needs to read about the unsuccessful stories as well as the successful ones, as there is much to learn from the former.

There are many reasons why many "don't make it" - they may have been disowned by their families; their destructive behaviours were enabled by their families; they faced discrimination; or they were overwhelmed and unprepared for the transition from prison to society. These are issues that the public needs to know about.

The Government and voluntary welfare organisations are helping, but their efforts do not go far enough. There are too many one-size-fits-all intervention approaches. Each individual is unique and it requires tailored approaches to help such individuals to re-integrate.

Ultimately, only the former offender can rewrite his own narrative, but a supportive environment is also extremely important.

Kuharajahsingam Karalasingam

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 13, 2016, with the headline 'Much to learn from ex-convicts who 'don't make it''. Subscribe