Changes to law 'aimed at beefing up anti-drug war'

The law will also provide for the setting up of a Community Rehabilitation Centre for young addicts who are not yet hardcore abusers to live and be counselled.

Singapore's war against drugs is waged on many fronts and must stamp out both demand and supply, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean on Wednesday.

The death penalty is one of a range of weapons being used in this war and the changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act are meant to strengthen the anti-drug regime and adapt to the new strategies of the drug syndicates.

By giving couriers a chance to tell on their syndicates and save themselves from certain death, the aim is to make it difficult for the syndicates to operate. And even as they may adapt, "we would have at the very least increased the risks and complications for syndicates", said DPM Teo as he wrapped up the debate on changes to the Act.

Beyond the death penalty, there are other key weapons in Singapore's arsenal. These include educating people about the harm of drug addiction, imprisonment of long-term drug addicts who repeatedly fall back into the habit, and Central Narcotics Bureau's unrelenting efforts at seizing drugs and arresting offenders.

"It starts with public education, but we have also put in place strict laws with severe penalties, coupled with strong enforcement.

"The new measures proposed in this Bill will enable us to help drug abusers who themselves have shown commitment to get off drugs and stay away from drugs.

"And we are introducing new offences and increasing penalties for those who target the young and vulnerable, so we don't create another generation who are enslaved to drugs," Mr Teo said.

"Offenders have a high certainty of being caught, and of facing severe punishment, including death," he added.

In addition, the law passed yesterday will make it illegal to organise drug parties. Those found guilty can be jailed up to 20 years and caned.

The law will also provide for the setting up of a Community Rehabilitation Centre for young addicts who are not yet hardcore abusers to live and be counselled.

"Taken in totality, these amendments will make our regime tougher against repeat offenders, introduce new offences especially against those who target the young and vulnerable, and enhance the effectiveness of the death penalty regime.

"We will also give CNB officers more power to deal with emerging threats and improve their monitoring capabilities," said Mr Teo.

Individuals and society, he added, also have a responsibility in fighting the drug menace.

Referring to an anecdote Nominated MP Eugene Tan told the House on Monday about his students appearing to be receptive to drugs, Mr Teo said he hoped the Singapore Management University professor had helped his students see that experimenting with drugs is dangerous.

"Experimenting with drugs is not like trying bungee-jumping or sky-diving - drug-taking is illegal and it can only lead one down the path of addiction, and damage one's health and mind, as well as one's future and family."


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