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Elizabeth Law
Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

Singapore

Ex-convict credits his supervisor's advice for his change in attitude

The New Paper | Elizabeth Law | Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

Mr Fariz Mustaffa has held his current job for eight months — the longest he’s ever stayed in a job.

Each work day, Mr Fariz Mustaffa, 30, leaves his Tampines home by 8am for the two-hour ride to get to work on time.

He travels by bus, train, and bus again, from Tampines to Alexandra Road, where he works at a furniture warehouse.

And he has stuck to this routine for the past eight months - the longest he has remained in a job - because of his supervisor, Mr Zamir Noor Halipah, 33.

Yesterday, the pair were highlighted in a speech by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Mr Lawrence Wong.

Mr Wong was the guest-of-honour at the Score (Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises) Appreciation Awards.

As a warehouse assistant for Poh Tiong Choon Logistics, Mr Fariz ensures the goods readied by the warehouse workers are in order before passing them on to colleagues for delivery to customers' homes.

Being able to remain on the job for the past eight months is a major achievement for Mr Fariz.

"This is the first job in my life that I've been able to stay on for this long," he told The New Paper yesterday.

While serving a one-year sentence for a drug offence, he was given the opportunity to apply for a job through Score. He picked Poh Tiong Choon, and company executives conducted an interview in prison.

Mr Fariz got the job shortly after.

Starting at his new work place in February, he said Mr Zamir helped him adapt to a new working environment.

A self-confessed job-hopper, he used to call it quits when he got bored. And he came close to leaving his job at Poh Tiong Choon shortly after joining.

But Mr Zamir sat Mr Fariz down and gave him advice on various issues, including his new marriage.

"My supervisor treated me and the other colleagues the same. He didn't give me special treatment. There was no double standard," said Mr Fariz.

"We even get scolded the same way."

Yesterday, Mr Zamir was given the Model Supervisor Award - nominated by the ex-offenders.

Now Mr Fariz has even more reason to stay at his job: His wife gave birth to a boy less than a week ago.

Mr Fariz, who has an 11-year-old son from a previous marriage, said: "I want to come to work because of my son. Recently, I've even started to work overtime so that I can feed my family."

Equally motivated is Mr Yeo Beng Tat, who started work as a steward at Resorts World Sentosa in 2011.

Then at the tail-end of a five-year sentence, the 44-year-old thought the integrated resort was something new and wanted to see it for himself. He got the job through Score's job bank.

Three years on, he has been promoted to a supervisor and has 20 people working under him.

COMMITTED

Despite the shift work and the 90-minute commute from his Yishun home, the former mobile phone salesman says there's no other place he'd rather be.

"It's a big company, but we learn to take care of one another. There's a sort of kampung spirit," he said.

The father-of-one, whose son will turn one later this week, also gave credit to the programmes he went through in prison, including an anger management course.

"I learnt my patience.

"There was difficulty adapting to society but my family and colleagues were very encouraging," he said.

"Most importantly, it's me alone. It was a mindset change I needed."

lawsm@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Oct 21, 2014.
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