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Aloysius Pang On Media Scrutiny After Drink Driving Charge: “My Picture Was Bigger Than The Marsiling Murderer’s”

The actor tells us in an exclusive interview how “mentally torturous” the media’s coverage of his drink driving charge has been on him and his family.

On this drizzly Friday morning (May 26), we’re with the cast of My Friends From Afar, Ch 8’s upcoming sci-fi drama, where Carrie Wong and Aloysius Pang play aliens who travel to Earth to start life anew. And we have an inkling that no one is feeling more in character today then Aloy himself. When he enters the studio, everyone turns to look at him like they’ve just spotted a UFO. He notices us, says hi and bows politely. He looks tired and worn-out, not surprising given the week he’s had. Last Thursday (May 18), the 26-year-old actor was charged in court with drink driving. Aloy, who decided not to renew his contract with Mediacorp in April, was accused of committing the offence along Jalan Ahmad Ibrahim towards Jurong Port Road at around 4.40am on May 8. He allegedly had 55 microgrammes (mcg) of alcohol in 100ml of breath — the prescribed limit is 35 mcg. He’ll be back in court on June 22, and he plans to plead guilty to the charge. If convicted, he can be jailed up to six months or fined between $1,000 and $5,000.

To say that Aloy has been under a lot of pressure the past week would be an understatement, especially in this clickbait-driven, viral news-generating era. If an act of charity from a star, like Nicki Minaj helping to pay for her fans’ tuition, gets magnified by the press, what say a misdemeanor? One only needs to look at Rui En’s recent headline-hogging brush with her neighbours to understand what we mean. But back to Aloy. The media scrutiny on him the past week was intense. Online news articles detailing his offence went viral, his name, often followed with unsavory comments, became a trending topic on forums, and the photo of him leaving the courtroom was splashed across the front pages of Chinese dailies. “My picture was bigger than the Marsiling murderer’s,” he says, adding that the non-stop media coverage has also placed a lot of stress on his parents. The boyish star, who teared up during our chat, tells us that the past week has been “traumatic and mentally torturous”. “I feel hurt for my parents. What they are going through now is because of me, and they don’t deserve it,” he says, tears welling up in his eyes. “I have been finding ways to be a better person. If you make a mistake, it haunts you for the rest of your life.”

8 DAYS: How have you been feeling the past week? We tried calling you but you didn’t pick up.
I’m sorry about that, I hope you understand. The past week was mentally torturous. It was really scary.  I was getting bombarded with unknown numbers — private numbers, office numbers, handphone numbers, and I don’t dare to answer any of them. I don’t know what I’ll get myself into if I pick up. I have a fear of my phone ringing now. But I can’t put my phone on airplane mode and ignore those calls because of work and stuff.

The verdict will be announced on June 22…
I already know what’s the worst that could happen. I’ve already accepted that. My fear is not the verdict. My fear is the media scrutiny. My picture that made the headline of the papers [when I went to court on May 18] was bigger than Marsiling murderer’s. [Ed: He’s referring to the recent case about a truck driver who murdered a Vietnamese woman in his Marsiling flat.]

Did you cry that day?
(Takes a deep breath and his eyes turn red) I hope people put themselves in my parents’ position. They had to see their son in the headlines for something negative, and that in itself is already a very traumatic experience. Watching them receiving phone calls [from people talking about my case], that’s the most hurtful thing for me. They forgave me and have been supporting me in whatever I do, but I feel that I haven’t fulfilled my position as a filial son. Then, the media just keeps bombarding and bombarding and bombarding. Reality is reality, and what’s done is done. In the last week, I felt really lonely. I felt all alone. I felt that everything was against me.

Surely your friends had texted you words of encouragement. 
Yes, there were so many messages from everyone. I guess that’s the silver lining. I got a lot of love from people around me and that became a source of motivation for me.

Do you feel like this year hasn’t been a good year for you?
I wouldn’t blame it on that. A lot of things that happened were because of bad decisions I made, and wrong judgement on my side. So I wouldn’t blame it on the year, I blame it on myself, on what I have done as a person. I need to start to make better decisions.

What lessons have you learnt in the past week?
There are too many lessons. I believe in revealing more of that on the date of the verdict. I believe you are going to cover that too, so I will talk more then. Until the verdict, I will remain mum about the case. 

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