Saturday, Oct 20th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Monday, 30 July 2018 00:00

A New Lease of Life

Written by  Tan Siew Chern / KL & Selangor Translated by Connie Ong

A drug addict and drug trafficker in the past, Liew Yoon Hee’s life was transformed after he encountered Tzu Chi. Now, he carries out good deeds and inspires kindness in others. [Photograph by How Siew Heok]

“When I was young, I was rebellious, hot tempered, and disrespectful towards my parents…” said Liew Yoon Hee, who self-proclaimed himself a disobedient boy.


Born in 1976, Liew Yoon Hee is the youngest child among his siblings of four. He has two sisters and a brother, and his father worked as a construction contractor. Being the youngest child, he was pampered by his family.

At age 12, a curious Yoon Hee picked up smoking from his neighbour, who is two years older than him, thinking that it was cool. On one occasion, the “elder brother” even brought an innocent him to the red-light district to “widen his horizon”. Recounting that experience, Yoon Hee gave a helpless smile.

He said, “As a boy, I was smart in my studies, but things changed after I went to secondary school. Out of three months, I would skip school for two months.” As he always played truant and was disinterested in his studies, he was transferred from a public school to an independent school after a year. For the few years at the independent school, he repeated two years of studies. Because of his high absenteeism, his mother sought help from the police; he was brought to the police station and warned not to skip school. Despite all efforts, he discontinued his studies at age 14.

He started working, first as a construction labour, then a motorcycle mechanic, lorry driver, car painter, and direct selling. At age 17, he became the youngest direct selling manager in the company. With his early found success, his spirits were lifted and he was very spendthrift, especially in treating others to meals. He could spend double of what he earned, and remained cool about it. At age 18, he stopped working and enjoyed a free and aimless life.

“I did not work much after 18,” he claimed. He met with some bad influences, and was tempted to try ecstasy pills. That led him to drug abuse and ended up as a drug trafficker. Due to a deviated mind back then, he thought that it was none of others’ business for him to take drugs. He did not harm anyone, and was just supplying what others needed. That, to him then, was helping others. He said, “That time, I was a full-time bad guy. To earn fast money, I did what others did and what others dared not do.” The worst episode was, he used strong acid to produce drugs. It was a failed attempt; he got burnt by the chemicals and there are still scars on his arms.

Although his family knew that he was engaged in some unwholesome deeds, they were unaware of what exactly he did. His mother and sisters were helpless about it, but they did not give up on him. They sought help from a counsellor to guide him.

A drug addict would not only cause chaos in the family, but also to the society at large. The drugs caused him to have hallucinations, causing his mind to have unreasonable suspicions and tendencies to cause hurt and even desire to kill people. When his condition became worse, he would try to burn the house by igniting fire or using fire crackers, or climb up to the roofs and damage the wiring. His frequent abnormal behaviours caused much tension in the family.

When she had done all she could to help but to no avail, his second sister, Liew Chew Moi, who loved him very much, resorted to seeking the police for assistance. For four times, he was taken as a mental patient, and was sent to Selayang, Universiti Malaya, Klang, and Seremban Hospitals respectively for treatment. In 2014, he was sent to a drug rehabilitation centre. However, he took drugs again three months after being discharged from the rehabilitation centre.
 
Out of desperation, his clueless mother prayed to the deities and engaged “feng shui” (Chinese geomancy) masters to rectify the situation. She was heartbroken to discover later that her son was addicted to drugs.

The situation continued for years, until Yoon Hee met someone who made a significant change to his life.

A persistent wholesome friend

Because of drug addiction, Yoon Hee lost his self-esteem and credibility. His friends distanced themselves from him, leaving him in loneliness. Fortunately, he befriended a Tzu Chi volunteer later. Yoon Hee said, “The ‘brother’ always told me about Tzu Chi. He did not despise me or give up on me. Instead, he tolerated my mistakes and kept me accompanied silently. He would send Jing Si Aphorisms to me daily.”

However, seeing his stubbornness to stick with his bad habits, the volunteer said to him one day, “If you still think of me as a friend, please, heed my advice and quit it.”

Grateful of the volunteers’ persistent care and companionship at time when his other friends chose to leave him, Yoon Hee took the advice and was determined to quit drugs. He successfully got rid of his drug addiction in January 2015. He was surprised at his own determination and courage, and now he felt that it was actually his willpower. He revealed that one night that same year, he dreamt that the volunteer urged him to go to the Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall and become a volunteer. The next day, he quickly went to Tzu Chi to make a donation for the Nepal earthquake victims. That was his first step into Tzu Chi and a new lease of life.

He said, “I joined Tzu Chi to repay the brother’s kindness and love. I can’t let him down.”

After getting out of drug addiction himself, Yoon Hee thought about his friends who were still struggling with it. He took the initiative to share his experiences with them, and tried his best to convince them to not repeat his mistakes and start a new life. His sincerity touched two of them to get back to the right path in life.

He said, “I quit smoking on the day I was certified as a Tzu Cheng Faith Corps member.” Strange it may seem, as he was still smoking even after he successfully quit drugs. It was only in 2017, that he finally stopped his smoking habit of 29 years, since age 12.

Recollecting those days when her family was constantly in chaos, Chew Moi could not help but sighed before she said, “That was really awfully terrible days in our lives.” Yoon Hee on the other hand said, “It was all thanks to the persistent support from my family that I had the strength to go on.”

Repenting in the public

In November 2017, Yoon Hee was certified as a Tzu Cheng Faith Corps member in Taiwan. In his Tzu Chi’s biography, he made a vow to be a Tzu Chi volunteer life after life. During his trip to Taiwan, he was most touched by the South African volunteers’ perseverance to carry out Tzu Chi’s missions in spite of the difficulties they faced. He pledged, “I will put Tzu Chi as my top priority. I will surely be there whenever Tzu Chi needs me.”

In Taiwan, Yoon Hee drew a scroll from a collection of Jing Si Aphorisms, and this is what he got: “There are two things in life that cannot wait: fulfilling filial piety and doing good deeds.” He found it incredible as it was like a pointer which showed him the direction for his future path. Previously, he thought that he should wait until he was rich to do good deeds, but now he thinks otherwise.

Not only does he fulfil his promise to undertake whichever role he is needed in Tzu Chi, but he also fulfils filial piety by bringing his mother to Tzu Chi and participate in recycling activities, home visits and volunteers’ training. He hopes that his mother will also become Master Cheng Yen’s disciple one day. He claimed, “I shall treat all elders with respect and care like how I would my parents; I shall cherish my peers like how I would my siblings; and I shall love others’ children like my own.”

His transformation brought great comfort to his family members, especially his sisters and his aged mother, who credited that to Tzu Chi. His mother said in relief, “I am finally relieved. He is very well behaved and filial now.”

Each time one reflects upon oneself and repents for one’s wrongdoings, one purifies one’s mind. Yoon Hee had on several occasions, shared and repented for his past wrongdoings in the public and sought for forgiveness from his mother. His sincere repentance often moved the hearts of the audience.

Until this day, Yoon Hee still receives a Jing Si Aphorism from the volunteer daily. They serve as his guidelines in life. Now, it is part of his daily routine to read the Jing Si Aphorisms and to do good.

Volunteering with a pure heart
 
“Kent, please come and help.” Whenever Yoon Hee, whom the volunteers fondly called as “Kent”, received such instant messages in the mobile chat group on a Saturday, he would be there at the recycling centre to help load the recyclables onto the truck. Come rain or shine, he always passionately completes the tasks at hand.

On one occasion, while sweeping the floor at the Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, Yoon Hee said self-mockingly to some fellow volunteers, “The dusts resemble my past wrongdoings. I must clean them.” Sometimes, he also helped with traffic control outside the Jing Si Hall. It is hard to imagine him being a drug addict before with all the positive energy he now has on him.

Be it physically demanding chores or caring for Tzu Chi care recipients, volunteers always feel much at ease with him around. Someone praised, “Kent has a pure mind. Whatever tasks entrusted to him, he will do it.”

He is finally awakened in Tzu Chi, after leading a confused life for 20 years.

In the past, he was engaged in drugs; whenever people see him, they would say, “He is up to some no good.” Now, he is involved in Tzu Chi; whenever people see him, they would say instead, “He is up to some real good.”

Everyone is born kind, but the external influence makes them different. One’s mind may be clouded at one point in life, but one can break through when the innate kindness within one is evoked. Yoon Hee is an example of such.

 

Liew Yoon Hee (front row, 1st right), started working at 14 years old. He became the youngest direct selling manager in the company at 17, but unfortunately, went astray later. [Photograph provided by Liew Yoon Hee]   Liew Yoon Hee successfully quit drugs and became a Tzu Chi volunteer in 2015.  He was certified as a Tzu Cheng Faith Corps member in 2017. [Photograph by Goh Chee Tiong]

Liew Yoon Hee (front row, 1st right), started working at 14 years old. He became the youngest direct selling manager in the company at 17, but unfortunately, went astray later. [Photograph provided by Liew Yoon Hee]
 
Liew Yoon Hee successfully quit drugs and became a Tzu Chi volunteer in 2015. He was certified as a Tzu Cheng Faith Corps member in 2017. [Photograph by Goh Chee Tiong]
 
Liew Yoon Hee assisted in taking care of a Tzu Chi care recipient. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]   Liew Yoon Hee repented for his past wrongdoings and sought forgiveness from his mother and sisters at a volunteer fellowship session. [Photograph by Ho Wei Mee]

Liew Yoon Hee assisted in taking care of a Tzu Chi care recipient. [Photograph by Chua Teck Ching]3
 
 
Liew Yoon Hee repented for his past wrongdoings and sought forgiveness from his mother and sisters at a volunteer fellowship session. [Photograph by Ho Wei Mee]
 
Liew Yoon Hee’s family credited his transformation to Tzu Chi. His second sister (1st right) expressed her gratitude profusely and his mother (2nd right) felt relieved that he is on the right path now. [Photograph by Ho Wei Mee]  

Liew Yoon Hee’s family credited his transformation to Tzu Chi. His second sister (1st right) expressed her gratitude profusely and his mother (2nd right) felt relieved that he is on the right path now. [Photograph by Ho Wei Mee]