Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Calling all performers!

Do you have a band? A breakdance crew? A choir? A cheerleading squad? Are you a singer? A stand-up comedian? A clown? A unicyclist?

We are now looking for groups/individuals who would like to perform at Second Chances In The Park! We welcome anyone who is interested, regardless of age. However, due to the rules and regulations of Hong Lim Park, you do need to be a Singaporean citizen or at least a PR.

If you know of any performance groups, please pass this message on! We hope to recruit as many performers as we can to make Second Chances in the Park a fun kick-ass day for everyone! 

Please contact us by either filling the form under the 'About Us' tab on our FB page, or emailing


Meanwhile, to atone for not being in Singapore work alongside our awesome organising team, I have been wearing the Second Chances T-shirt all up and down Laos...

We will be selling Second Chances T-shirts (might not be exactly like the one I've got) for about S$12 soon, in a bid to fundraise for Second Chances in the Park. If you're interested, please leave a comment so we know how many we'll need to print!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"Vui Kong's story changed it all for me."

“I never really thought about it.”

That was the answer I gave my French teacher back in 2005 when he asked me if I supported the death penalty. I remember this exchange well, and have thought of it often this past year, sometimes with amusement and other times with shame.

I remember that he had been horrified. “How could you not think about something like this?”

I shrugged. I just hadn’t. I was 16, I’d just finished my O Levels and life was pretty good. I was making new friends in the first three months of junior college. I was going out shopping, watching movies, doing things teenagers do. I didn’t have the time to think about such serious, dreary, faraway things. I figured that I didn’t need to. I wasn’t planning to murder anyone, or traffic drugs, so it wasn’t ever going to affect my life.

In the 5 years since that exchange with my teacher, almost all my convictions have been put to the test. I kept finding myself in situations I had previously assumed with complete confidence I would never find myself in.

Between 2005 and 2010 life taught me this lesson: whatever has happened to someone else could just as easily happen to you. Don’t be too quick to dismiss or judge a person, because one day that person could be you.

On the 15th of March this year I was introduced to the siblings of Yong Vui Kong, and saw Vui Kong himself at his appeal. Although we come from completely different backgrounds and experiences, when I saw him the first thing that crossed my mind was, “Oh my God, he’s my age. A little twist of fate, and that could be me sitting in the dock.”

Vui Kong’s story changed it all for me. Seeing him that day, the impact and implications of the death penalty finally became real to me. And once I saw that it was a real thing affecting the lives of real people, I could not help but feel that the death penalty was wrong.

I started to read every news article I could find about Vui Kong’s case. I read up on past cases. I read up about the use of the mandatory death penalty in Singapore. I read the Misuse of Drugs Act. I read books about the death penalty in Singapore, as well as in other countries. I read Amnesty International reports. I read No Choirboy: Murder, Violence and Teenagers on Death Row by Susan Kuklin, a collection of stories of youth sentenced to death in America, told in their own voices. I wanted to understand as much as I could about every aspect of the death penalty: ethical, logical, legal, practical, etc.

In this way I learned more about compassion, forgiveness, mercy and humanity than I would have ever been able to learn in a classroom.

Together with Damien Chng, I set up We Believe In Second Chances because I sincerely feel that people can change, if only they were given the chance. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone deserves a chance to show that they are more than their worst acts.

As a young Singaporean, We Believe In Second Chances is a way for me to let my voice be heard. It is an opportunity for me to show my country that even though I am young, I am concerned about what is going on in society. And most importantly, it gives me a chance to try to save a life.

I really hope that you will join me.

Kirsten Han

Second Chances In The Park
Date: 19 December 2010
Venue: Speaker's Corner, Hong Lim Park
Time: 4pm – 6pm

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Second Chances in the Park: The work begins!

Over the past week Damien and I (plus our amazing network of wise gurus and supporters) had been discussing Second Chances in the Park almost exhaustively in person, over email, FB chat and SMS. But this morning we had our first official team meeting.

I was feeling a little stressed out and worried before about all the logistics of the event, feeling like I was in over my head. However, after meeting up with everyone today and talking over all the issues related to the event that we could think of, I left the meeting feeling not only reassured by also super-excited about 19th December!

So I'd like to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to those who came to the meeting today. I would also like to thank those who were unable to attend the meeting, but have nevertheless pledged their time, skills and energy to helping Damien and I organise Second Chances in the Park.

These volunteers had come across our Facebook page and sent us emails asking how they could help, out of kindness and goodwill. It is heartening to see Singaporeans – especially young Singaporeans – coming forward to support Second Chances, and to be willing to commit their precious free time to helping us with this event.

So keep watching this space as we update you on our progress towards the main event - Second Chances in the Park, 19th December 2010.

- cheers, kirsten