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Former drug addict turns over a new leaf and now wishes to enjoy life’s simple pleasures
22 October 2015

Featuring the work of photographer Kerry Cheah, the article showcases the life of Mr Ng Lai Hock. Left behind but not forsaken, imprisoned but not defeated. Currently under HCA Hospice Care, Mr Ng Lai Hock, 59, quit his drug addiction of 30 years and perseveres to face the remaining time. Extremely grateful for his spared life, he shares his trials and triumphs.

Ng was jailed seven times and suffered 24 strokes for different offences, ranging from drugs to theft and robbery.

“24 strokes of the cane is no joke. I remember the pain and torment I had to go through the years of imprisonment,” says Ng. “My buttocks were torn and swollen. It makes me scared just thinking about the pain.”

As young as 20, Ng would try all means to get the drugs he wanted.

“It was an addiction that destroyed my life for 3o years,” says Ng as he recalls the expensive $25 drugs he purchased. “It used to cost only $7-$10 when I first started.”

Whenever he was released from prison, the influence from his peers tempts him, leading up to his sixth imprisonment. Unfortunately, he fell ill and was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. The impact of the news consumed his spirits. He knelt and prayed desperately asking God for mercy.

“Thank God I was transferred to Breakthrough Mission halfway house and released after serving seven months. My medical bill which amounted to $300,000 was also fully paid.”

However, the remorse was short-lived. He succumbed to temptation and returned to drugs. Fearing getting caught, Ng absconded from submitting his urine test due each week. He left the comfort of his home and was on the run for nine months.

He battled the hot sun and rainstorms taking shelter at nearby park benches or secluded stairways. His backpack was all he had. He showered in public toilets and fled whenever he saw a group of Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) officers in the vicinity.

“Thinking back, it was a horrible period. Not a moment of peace,” says Ng as he recall the bad memories of being on the run. Eventually, it all came to naught. Ng got caught in November 2014 sniffing heroine in the toilet of a market in Clementi.

It was so painful that Ng wanted to kill himself.

“I ask myself why I am still alive. Just let me die,” says Ng, who attempted to kill himself by slashing his throat several times with a pen knife.

He survived but his cancer returned. Ng’s cancer cells were spreading throughout his body, he is now a terminally ill patient.

I do not want to die in prison like my dad did.”

Helpless, he sought the doctors for advice and submitted a letter to the courts asking for leniency and early release from what could have been a nine-year imprisonment.

In January 2015, the judge dropped all charges against Ng on compassionate grounds, given his medical conditions. Words could not describe the overflowing joy.

Ng would not have been able to breakthrough his addiction and live such a meaningful life without his church brothers and sisters like Mr Sim Choon Seng and Ms Li Ping. With their help, he reconciled with his sister whom he had lost touch with. He is also thankful for having a caring wife who carried the burden of raising the family single-handedly in his absence.

“I know it is definitely not easy for my family after so many failed attempts to change. I am grateful that they accept and allow me home to stay,” says Ng as he locked his hands together as a sign of prayer. “Not by words, but I hope someday my actions will touch them.”

Since his referral to HCA Hospice Care, Nurse Amy journeyed, encouraged and witnessed the change in his life. He is now able to receive palliative treatment and care in the comfort of his home.

“Of course I would prefer to pass on at home! At least I can get to rest and enjoy life at home with my family,” says Ng. “HCA Hospice Care has been really sincere, genuine and helpful, making it possible for my stay at home.”

Ng felt that he has not done any good deeds. Thus, he pledged to donate his organs to the Singapore Organ Transplant Unit.

“It would be beneficial for educational and research purposes,” says Ng as he proudly took his Organ Transplant Pledge Card out from his wallet.

Is he ready to leave? Ng replied, “Not looking back, I live and leave with no regrets. Focus on the good and not the sickness. It’s my time to share and encourage with the little I’ve left. Nothing else matters.”

He describes his last days as the most joyful and peaceful season of his entire life compared to the worries and struggles he had in the past. He lives independently, travelling around, sharing the hope and peace he found even towards the end of life

“There is so much more to life. I’m glad I had a second chance. I would rather die a meaningful death then live a meaningless life.”

If you’ll like to send Mr Ng Lai Hock a word of encouragement, drop us an email at communications@hcahospicecare.org.sg. Subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter to read more patients’ stories and updates!