Ex-gang leader making good shows employer Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh is also the hero

The eatery is a well-known social-enterprise in Singapore.

Belmont Lay | May 07, 2017, 05:07 PM

Trending online this weekend is this following video, featuring Ah Leong, a former gang leader of 20 years, turning his life around:

The video has been viewed 400,000 times in one day so far.

This is perhaps the first time Ah Leong's story is featured. In the video, he said he gave up his life of crime and drugs so that his mother need not worry about him.

A timely Mother's Day message, if there ever was one.

More well-documented though, is the story of Ah Leong's place of employment, Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh, and its founder, Jabez Tan.

The eatery is a well-known social enterprise in Singapore that makes it a point to actively hire ex-offenders by giving them a chance to contribute back to society.

Its founder, Tan, 42, was previously jailed for 13 years and given 12 strokes of the cane for being involved in gang- and drug-related activities. He spent a total of 15 years behind bars.

Tan became a Christian in 1998 while in jail, which was a turning point in his life. He was released in 2002, but not before learning how to cook, where he prepared meals for death row inmates who were going to hang.

In 2011, he opened his first Soon Huat outlet in Jalan Kayu.

The eatery opened another outlet in Simpang Bedok in 2013. The next outlet was opened in MacPherson Road in 2014.

Today, there are five eateries bearing the Soon Huat name. More than half of the 40 staff members he employs are ex-offenders, many of whom are described as hardcore criminals.

Tan's commitment to protecting his employees extends beyond just offering them work.

In June 2014, the eatery published a clarification regarding one of its employees who was reported in The Straits Times to have been involved in a sham marriage while employed by the eatery.

Tan issued a statement personally to inform the public that the employee had served his six-month stint in prison and was re-employed again.

You can check out this other video from March 2016 with more stories of Soon Huat employees: