It’s the kind of story that Oscar-winning movies are made of: A boy born in poverty and bullied as a kid inexplicably finds a sense of belonging with gangsters, eventually dropping out of school and joining one of the biggest gangs in Malaysia, before ultimately becoming a ‘tai kor’ himself.
An assault with a deadly weapon, however, leads to his arrest and a life sentence. Over the next 28 years of incarceration, he discovers religion and becomes a prominent figure among prison inmates and wardens. His redemption arc finally secures him a royal pardon and his freedom.
Now he’s committed to reaching out to those poor unfortunate souls in his community – troubled teens and runaways, drug addicts and the homeless – to steer them towards a better life.
This is the true story of Sam Kian Seng as chronicled in the book Kajang Redemption, written by Stephen Ng. You can read the full text of his interview with Star2 chief reporter Majorie Chiew here: Ex-Convict Given A Second Chance At Life Now Helps Others.
Since before his release on July 25, 2016, The Star has followed his story closely, even recording three videos about his incredible turnaround. Check them out:
Courage To Change: The Journey Of Sam
Sam Kian Seng was resigned to the possibility that he would die serving his life sentence. But on July 25, 2016, the 59-year-old was released from Kajang Prison after receiving a royal pardon by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong. Sam says his redemption came from his will to change, and that he owes his freedom to those who believed in him. Originally published on Aug 30, 2016
The Spirit Of Malaysia Saved Sam
Former convicted felon and Kajang Prison inmate Sam Kian Seng was given a royal pardon on July 25, 2016, after serving 28 years of a life sentence. Among those who campaigned for his release were prison wardens and The Star Media Group CEO Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai. In the spirit of Merdeka and Anak Anak Malaysia, Wong explains why the reformed gangster deserved to walk free. Originally published on Aug 30, 2016
Make Good On A Promise
Before ex-gangster Sam Kian Seng was released from Kajang Prison in 2016, he made a promise to serve his community if he ever became a free man again. Since his royal pardon, Sam has walked away from his past life and made good on his redemption story by reaching out to those struggling and surviving on the the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Originally published on Jul 2, 2017
You can also read Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai’s original columns from his On The Beat series over here:
Hope Within The Prison Walls: Sam Kian Seng, who has spent 27 years in prison and who is making a difference in the lives of his fellow inmates, harbours hopes of being a free man. Published on May 24, 2015
Saw Sam’s Redemption: A lesson learnt from Sam Kian Seng, who was recently pardoned, was to never give up. For me, it was very emotional to know that his biggest campaigners were the prison wardens. Published on Jul 31, 2016