Unlocking Our Prisons

Freedom

I believe in second chances. Sometimes a third. Or fourth. Or until the love and passion that fuels forgiveness runs out. But I believe that we should give people who have been to prison a second chance because it is not just about the ex-offenders, but about their families too.

According to the World Prison Population List of 2007, Singapore has a prison population rate of 392 per 100,000. This number does not include those in drug rehabilitation centres run by the Singapore Prison Service. From the list, it seems, Singapore with a national population of about to 4 million, has the highest rate of prisoners in South East Asia. And if we compare it to the whole of Asia (41 countries in list), Singapore comes in second after Maldive Island. But if we look at the actual prison population, Singapore has 16,835 (excluding those in drug rehab) compared to Maldives’ 1,098 (sentenced prisoners only).

So I took part in the inaugural Ribbon Yellow Prison Run yesterday and I realized, more than my belief in the cause, I was running to unlock my own prisons. Don’t we all feel imprisoned by habits, possessions, people or ourselves sometimes? But yesterday, I discovered the imprisonment of an aging body.

The run had 2 routes – 5km and 10km. Being gung-ho when the run opened for registration 2 months ago, I signed up for the latter distance with Eugene. But closer to the date, we decided to do the shorter distance instead. However, during the run, I mistakenly took the 10km route and when I realized, I was too embarrassed to turn back. The 10km had an earlier flag-off while the 5km run started at 8:00am. By the time we started running, it was about 8:30am. When I turned into the 10km route after sharing 4km with the shorter route runners, I was the only one. There was a couple in front of me, and no one else behind me!

I ran and ran. And every time I turned a corner or went up a slope, I thought the end was in sight, but all I saw was another long stretch ahead. It must’ve felt the same for prisoners in their jail cells. For those with short or mid-term sentences, they can start counting down. But for those imprisoned for life or on the death row, I wonder what’s there to look forward to.

I pressed on. I was already too deep into the distance, there’s no turning back. I just have to complete it. Then I realized why the journey felt torturous. It was because my body wasn’t as fit as it used to be. It felt heavy. No matter how much my mind told it to think free and feel light, every step weighed a zillion ton. But the worst was yet to come.

When I reached the vicinity of the carnival where the finishing point was, I just couldn’t go further. There was about another 1km or more to complete but the outer sides of my right knee was stabbed by pain. I couldn’t even walk. So I took a shortcut and limped my way to the finishing point. I cheated. My right knee had imprisoned me.

I felt kind of lousy for not completing the run, but I guess, sometimes the true distance is not determined by where the end point is set, but by knowing that you’ve done your very best. Apart from age, I knew there’re probably some habits past and present that continue to imprison me and caused my knee to be the lock. What are your locks?

I think it is okay to have locks. But we must know where the keys are. And by accepting and not judging ex-offenders, we are their keys to unlock a second prison. If we can embrace local celebrities such as Christopher Lee and Benedict Goh who had been incarcerated, may we also accept the beauty of a lesser-known who tries again to find their place in life.

The Journey

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. universe8within
    Sep 07, 2009 @ 03:24:53

    Thanks for sharing …
    .. I must admit that I read English a zillion times faster than I read Chinese. So thanks for sharing in English even though ur Chinese is so much more powderful, IMHO 😎

    Reply

    • celebratelah
      Sep 10, 2009 @ 18:43:41

      Re: Thanks for sharing …
      hey jason… i type english a zillion times faster too! haha… but sometimes a certain language reflects a certain mood more adequately so i post in chinese when i feel it captures what i have in mind more accurately.
      there’s no need for you to thank me for sharing. rather, i should thank you for even being bothered to read my posts! heh heh… hope all’s going swell with ya and making a swoop at the recent stock market rallies :o)

      Reply

    • celebratelah
      Sep 10, 2009 @ 18:43:41

      Re: Thanks for sharing …
      hey jason… i type english a zillion times faster too! haha… but sometimes a certain language reflects a certain mood more adequately so i post in chinese when i feel it captures what i have in mind more accurately.
      there’s no need for you to thank me for sharing. rather, i should thank you for even being bothered to read my posts! heh heh… hope all’s going swell with ya and making a swoop at the recent stock market rallies :o)

      Reply

  2. universe8within
    Sep 07, 2009 @ 03:24:53

    Thanks for sharing …
    .. I must admit that I read English a zillion times faster than I read Chinese. So thanks for sharing in English even though ur Chinese is so much more powderful, IMHO 😎

    Reply

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