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Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs defends firm drug policies amid criticism of minister’s speech

In response to Ms Teo Soh Lung’s criticisms of K Shanmugam’s abuse of parliamentary privilege, the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs defends its stringent drug policies, emphasizing their necessity to prevent “horrific consequences” seen in countries with lenient laws.



On 17 May 2024, the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued a response to criticisms by Ms Teo Soh Lung regarding Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam’s statement on Singapore’s drug policies, which was delivered in Parliament on 8 May 2024.

The former lawyer expressed her concerns in a Facebook post dated 12 May 2024, condemning the government’s approach as ineffective and accusing Mr Shanmugam of abusing parliamentary privilege.

In his parliamentary speech on 8 May, Mr Shanmugam described Singapore’s anti-drug efforts as a “war,” highlighting the immense human cost traffickers inflict by profiting from the drug trade.

He emphasized the grave consequences of the drug problem, characterizing it as a battle with a significant toll on lives.

Mr Shanmugam defended Singapore’s stringent narcotics policies, asserting their effectiveness and broad support among Singaporeans. However, he criticized certain groups for baselessly attacking these measures and assisting inmates in manipulating legal processes to evade just penalties.

“For instance, in May 2023 last year, Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act, or POFMA, directions were issued against 10 social media posts and two online articles for containing false statements about a capital sentence meted out by the Courts. Five parties – Transformative Justice Collective, The Online Citizen Asia, Andrew Loh, Kirsten Han, M Ravi – continued to make false statements alleging that a PACP was denied an interpreter during the recording of his statement. This, despite the Court’s clear statement to the contrary – a blatant, false attack on the criminal justice system.

Some of these activists have helped to file unmeritorious legal applications on behalf of convicted drug traffickers. Applications are often filed at the last minute and those who help with these applications often hide behind the PACPs and their families. In one case, there were seven post-appeal applications, all dismissed by the Courts because they were all without merit. Seven, one after the other, no basis, after the substantive appeal was dismissed. In the seventh post-appeal application, the correspondent’s email address – [email protected] – was provided by a family member to the Court.

This obviously does not belong to the family, but to perhaps an anti-death penalty activist. The Court dismissed that application, said it was a blatant and ill-disguised application to disrupt the carrying out of the sentence. In other words, a clear abuse of the process.

The person, with the email account by the name of Kirsten Han, if she was involved, was helping in the abuse of process.

Based on what the Court said, you can see what the persons who were assisting in the applications were trying to do.”

Ms Teo, a Singaporean lawyer and activist known for her vocal criticism of government policies, lambasted the ministerial approach, stating, “Minister Shanmugam and many PAP ministers are fond of misusing parliament. They know that whatever statements made in parliament are privileged. The parties wronged by them would not be able to respond.”

She further lamented the presence of former drug abusers in Parliament, saying, “I don’t know if they would be happy, proud and grateful to him for doing that. But there they were in parliament being entertained by the minister!”

In response, the MHA clarified the intent behind inviting former drug abusers to Parliament: “MHA invited former drug abusers to Parliament to celebrate their courage and resilience in their rehabilitation journey. They were moved by the tribute given to them in Parliament, and many are now helping other drug abusers to kick the habit as well. Their families were invited too, to recognise the critical role that they played in helping their loved one turn over a new leaf.”

Addressing the effectiveness of Singapore’s drug laws, Ms Teo argued that despite the harsh penalties, “the problem of drug abuse and drug trafficking has not been solved.”

She challenged the minister’s accountability, urging, “Admit that his policy is not effective and get to work.”

The MHA defended the strict drug policies, explaining, “The drug problem cannot be permanently ‘solved’, as Ms Teo seems to suggest. There will be people who will abuse drugs. What we can do is to try and reduce the number, and save as many lives as we can.”

The ministry also pointed out the negative outcomes seen in countries with more lenient drug laws, noting, “Countries which have adopted soft drug control policies have seen horrific consequences such as increased overdose rates and brutal drug-related crime and violence.”

The ministry’s statement also addressed the alleged misuse of legal processes, stating, “The MS laid out, factually, what transpired in some Court cases, where there have been numerous unmeritorious applications, to try and avoid the sentence being carried out.”

Mr Shanmugam waived his parliamentary privilege regarding the statements made. MHA states, “If Ms Teo or anyone else feels that the Statement’s contents are actionable – they can take action.”

The MHA concluded by reiterating its dedication to keeping Singapore safe from drug-related issues, asserting, “The Government will do everything it takes to keep Singapore safe and protect the lives of Singaporeans. To that end, we will do our utmost to keep drugs out of our society.”

As the debate on Singapore’s drug policies continues, recent statistics from the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) underscore the challenges facing the nation.

According to data released on 14 February 2024, there was a 10% increase in the number of drug abusers arrested in 2023 compared to the previous year, with 3,101 individuals detained. Alarmingly, nearly 30% of those arrested were under the age of 30, including a disturbing rise in drug abuse among those under 20.

CNB director Sam Tee highlighted the troubling trends: “Singapore’s drug situation remains under control, but there are worrying trends. We are very concerned that drug abuse seems to be starting at a much younger age.”

Indeed, the youngest abusers arrested in 2023 were five 14-year-olds, reflecting a broader societal issue where drug abuse is initiating at alarmingly younger ages. A 2022 survey by the Institute of Mental Health revealed that the mean age of the onset of drug abuse was 15.9 years, with many abusers reportedly starting before turning 18.

The demographics of drug abusers are also shifting, with more than half of the new drug abusers in 2023 being under 30, and an 11% increase in female drug abusers from the previous year. The drugs of choice among those arrested were predominantly methamphetamine, heroin, and cannabis, with these three substances accounting for 94% of the drug abuse cases.

The matter of rising drug consumption, despite the death penalty and strict enforcement, is so serious that the minister addressed it in an interview with CNA938, stating, “It’s a major concern that we are seeing this coming. It’s not yet a big issue within Singapore, but if we don’t deal with it, it can become a big issue.”

Between 2014 and 2017, 11 people were arrested for using new psychoactive substances. This number increased to an average of 235 people per year between 2018 and 2022, according to Mr Shanmugam.

“If we don’t do anything, it will jump very high,” he continued, noting that the government is exploring ways to raise awareness about new psychoactive substances.

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Money laundering much, much safer.
No death penalty.
No harm to anyone’s health
No harm caused to family & society.

And certainly very profitable for Gov.

Carry on…

Shan probably, like all his political colleagues, is ONLY TERRIFIED when the day come and operate, in Parliament, the PAP Administration looses it’s 2/3 rds of yes man and prostitute women, like one who come to mind, throwing of files, so UNBECOMING of a female lawmaker.

And that time, the PAP Administration clutch on straws to defend the INDEFENSIBLE, NOT before they pass some laws to secure their money and banks statements.

True Blue Sheep 🐑 must and should realise and recognise the PAP Administration culture for all their mistakes past present future and ages to come is NO BLAME CULTURE which is officially to encourage risks, enterprise, innovation and stepping forward so to speak from interpretation of their, PAP vague vague lingo, like your HDB flat IS A STORE OF VALUE, which TILL NOW the PAP has So REALLY F itself SO DEEP when a $2 million F dollars HDB flat advertised DRAWS THEIR SCRUTINY and MISGIVINGS leading to their warning, ‘MISREP’ when actually ONLY they are entitled to bcz of… Read more »

What, now oppies are saying drugs are okay? Think before you write, don’t smear us oppies becomes a drug pusher. As said those lousy oppies are really nothing but parrot, only know how to howl and against for the sick of against. Not effective, reduce penalty, arrest the drug lord overseas, education blah blah blah. Talk is easy, really damn sick of this. Suggest a better solution lah, if so smart, else stfu. You know you made us oppies looks really dumb or stupid, pick one that suits. We going to lose votes with this approach, please spare a thought.

Make drugs FREELY available and you will make it uncompetitive for drug smugglers/kingpins etc … to do their business here. Drug users will just have to be registered, use it under supervision and have to attend counseling sessions.

I am still wondering when the bosses of the various crime syndicates (Or maybe there’s just one big mafia) that oversees the illicit drug market(s) in Singapore will be arrested, charged, and sent to prison (and maybe executed). Perhaps I have simply missed news of such events? Can anyone share if any drug lords within Singapore have been arrested and executed? So far, only drug mules have been targeted. If this is truly a “war” on drugs. This is the equivalent of, in an actual military conflict, striking a supply convoy once in a while while leaving the attacking forces… Read more »

Last edited 23 days ago by Blankslate

Make plenty of speeches. Long-winded. Seems repition of theories here and there.

Abuae of Power.

Abuse of Position.

I recuse. What’s the use when it’s only a MOUTHFUL of saliva without the SOLID actionable steps taken to SOLIDIFY what is been said, to CREATE an IMPRESSION that forms REALITY and IMPORTANTLY, that which be agreeable AND CLEARLY CAN BE SEEN by others beyond the recusal circle.

Please touch on Cigarettes and Smoking.