Josephus Tan, a lawyer, grassroots activist, and generally cool dude with funky L’Oréal Paris hair, whose dramatic life as a reformed hell-raiser was turned into a TV series, wrote an encouraging Facebook note to kids receiving their PSLE results on Nov. 25, 2015.
The 36-year-old, also widely known as "Gangster Lawyer", took a picture of himself holding a 183 score and explained that PSLE was just one thing that shouldn't make or break children.
Here's the most poignant part of his "Uncle Joe" note:
It's neither the start nor the end of your beautiful lives. You might not understand this now but I know in time to come you will. If you can, treat this as just another piece of homework. No more, and certainly no less. That's really all there is to this PSLE.
You must be wondering now why am I telling you all these right? In my 36 years, I have the fortune of meeting some truly exceptional individuals who went on to excel in sports, music, business, finance, law, medicine, engineering, and academia without getting a good PSLE score when they were at your tender age of 12. Conversely, I have represented criminals who had done much better in their PSLE and are now currently serving time in prison.
But don't get me wrong here. I'm not suggesting that you should do badly. Neither am I saying that you're doomed for criminality just because you did well.
Kiddos, take all these from a man who passed his PSLE by 3 marks back in 1991 and was consequently sent to a rough neighbourhood school. It didn't define me then and certainly should not define you now.
And he is indeed saying this with more authority than most parents.
Josephus would know best as he had spent his teenage years as a gangster with a drinking problem and almost killed his girlfriend during a alcohol-induced rage.
After he quit drinking and turned his life around, against the odds, he attained his law degree and till date, has completed over 5,000 hours of pro bono work for youths and helped out at legal clinics around the island.
His epic turnaround gave him a new lease of life, picking up the pieces for himself and others, and was bestowed the Singapore Youth Award in July 2015.