News that one of his Ah Boys To Men actors, Noah Yap, had been busted for drug abuse, has left local film-maker Jack Neo in disbelief.
He could hardly believe his ears when The New Paper broke the news to him yesterday and asked if we were certain.
“I am very shocked and sad. How did this even happen?” Neo, 56, said.
“This is upsetting, especially because when Jackie Chan’s son, Jaycee, was caught for drugs, I took the opportunity to remind all the Boys that they should never, ever touch or dabble in drugs.
“Ruining your reputation is one thing, but it is also your health that you are risking.”
Ironically, the 22-year-old actor who rose to fame playing an army recruit, was caught while serving his national service.
Yap, who holds the rank of Lance-Corporal, was sentenced to nine months in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) detention barracks on Wednesday after being found guilty of drug consumption.
The Straits Times Online reported that he had taken cannabis, also known as marijuana.
Yap, who enlisted in the army on May 14 in 2014, was part of the SAF’s Music and Drama Company when he committed the offences. He tweeted last July that his ORD (Operationally Ready Date) was in May this year.
In response to media queries yesterday, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said the Subordinate Military Court had sentenced Yap under Section 8(b)(ii) of the Misuse of Drugs Act.
A Mindef spokesman said: “The SAF adopts a zero-tolerance approach towards drug abuse. Servicemen found abusing drugs will be disciplined and rehabilitated.”
Yap’s first brush with fame was as a YouTube personality. To date, his YouTube channel has nearly 75,000 subscribers and over 6.77 million views.
On the channel, the actor shows off his musical talent, doing covers of popular songs.
He also displays his comedic abilities in numerous parodies and commentary clips on topics like things you should not do during Chinese New Year.
But it was the Fly Entertainment artist’s role as boastful recruit I.P. Man in Neo’s hugely successful Ah Boys To Men 1 and 2 movies (2012 and 2013) that turned him and his co-stars, Wang Weiliang, Joshua Tan, Tosh Zhang and Maxi Lim into instant celebrities.
Their public appearances attracted huge crowds, especially young fans.
Yap, who also appeared in Neo’s The Lion Men (2014) and briefly in Ah Boys To Men 3: Frogmen (2015), won the MYCA Coolest Online Personality Award in 2013 from Ngee Ann Polytechnic and was involved in a National Environment Agency anti-smoking commercial , according to his Fly Entertainment bio.
He reprised his Ah Boys role in Ah Boys To Men: The Musical in 2014.
In an interview with TNP in April 2014 after he had unexpectedly received his enlistment letter, Yap said he wanted to maintain a low profile.
“I will do as I’m told. In real life, I’m very obedient. I don’t want to give my army mates the impression that I’m making a fuss about anything,” said the actor, who quit his theatre studies course at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in 2013 to pursue showbiz full-time.
He had also said he wanted to “experience the army just like everyone else”.
Fly Entertainment told TNP yesterday: “Noah Yap is sorry and very regretful for what he has done.
“He knows that he has disappointed the people who have supported him from the beginning of his career, including his family members.
“We at Fly Entertainment take a strong stance against drug abuse and will work with him closely towards his rehabilitation.”
Noting that drug abuse among youngsters has increased in recent times, Mr Freddy Wee, who works with former addicts, said prominent figures, like Yap, should be more careful with their actions.
“These are the people that fans look up to and by setting a bad example, it leaves a negative impact on society,” said the deputy director of halfway house Breakthrough Missions.
Statistics released in February by the Central Narcotics Bureau showed that new drug users arrested last year were aged below 30 and that among first-timers, cannabis had become the second-most abused drug.
Yap’s Ah Boys To Men co-stars could not be reached for comment yesterday.
– Additional reporting by Maureen Koh
This article was first published on March 4, 2016.
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