By Elysa Chen
HE MADE friends with some men while playing basketball near his home a few months ago. Little did he know the trouble he was getting himself into. His "basketball buddies" turned out to be members of a gang.
Over the last few weeks, the teenager claimed, he has been receiving SMSes from them in which they threatened to beat him up if he refused to join their gang.
Fed up, his father, a businessman in his 40s, decided to meet the gang leaders at a coffee shop near his home on Saturday night to tell them to leave his son alone.
He refused to reveal his son's age.
He took two friends with him. One allegedly showed up with a metal rod.
Both the man's friends were later arrested by police officers, the father told The New Paper. The father was not arrested.
One was charged yesterday with possession of an offensive weapon. Investigations against the other man are ongoing.
When TNP met the teen,who declined to be named, and his father near their home in Hougang on Sunday night, the small and thin young man said he got to know the gang members while playing basketball near his home a few months ago.
It was only later that he found out they belonged to a gang.
He said: "I knew too many of their secrets, but I didn't want to join them. That's why they wanted to beat me up."
The elder of two children added: "If I fight them, it will be ugly. I will become chicken chop."
While he insisted he was never part of the gang, he admitted hanging out with them on a few occasions.
Once, he claimed, they visited one of the gang leaders in hospital.
His father said in Mandarin: "My son went to a few of their gatherings because they threatened to beat him up if he didn't go along.
"Now, just because he went to see their leader, he's one of them? How can that be right?"
Last week, he accompanied his son to one of the gang's gatherings.
At the basketball court where the meeting took place, the father saw a stocky man in his 20s with tattoos on his arm, who appeared to be one of the group's leaders.
He said: "I was very angry when I found out that they were threatening my son.
"I hate it when those who are bigger pick on those who are smaller. My son is only a kid."
When he confronted the group at the basketball court last week, he said the gang members, who included teenagers and men in their 30s, did not seem pleased.
The man, who is of slim build, said: "They were scared of me because I was older than them, so they did not do anything to me."
He added that he warned them to stay away from his son.
"I wanted to pull my son away from the gang as soon as possible. I didn't want to wait till it was too late and something happens," he said.
So he decided to meet the gang's leaders at the coffee shop on Saturday.
Though police are now looking into the matter, the father said he is still fearful for his and his son's safety.
During our hour-long interview on Sunday night, a group of teenagers was seen near their home.
They loitered in the area for about 10 minutes before dispersing.
The father said: "I have told my son not to leave the home if he is on his own."