No let-up in drug battle, says Shanmugam
S'pore needs tough stance against drug scourge due to regional, online menace
Singapore's drug problem is under control but it could become troublesome, Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam told Parliament yesterday.
The tough stance against drugs, therefore, is still necessary, said Mr Shamugam, who was speaking on a motion about strengthening Singapore's fight against drugs.
Citing figures on the global drug situation - in 2014, there were 250 million drug abusers in the world and 200,000 die from drug-related problems each year - he said: "Globally, there is a softer stance towards drugs, selective arguments using pseudo science and glamorising drugs. They do create a challenging environment to keep Singapore drug-free."
Mr Shanmugam said that challenges that Singapore faces include the increased supply of drugs in the region and online transactions to buy drugs.
Drug abusers are also getting younger. The demographics are changing - over the past three years, 350 students from all levels (primary school to tertiary) and backgrounds were nabbed.
Drug abusers also included those who were "well educated with good jobs" - more than 70 professionals were caught last year, including accountants and engineers, said Mr Shanmugam.
The motion, tabled by five Members of Parliament - Mr Christopher De Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah), Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar (Ang Mo Kio), Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong), Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson) and Mr Vikram Nair (Sembawang) - sparked off a lively debate which ran for more than four hours yesterday.
The MPs called on the Government to continue applying tough laws to deter the trafficking of drugs into Singapore, investing in the rehabilitation of drug addicts and preventing a drug-tolerant culture from being established in Singapore.
Nominated MP Kok Heng Leun called for "more discourse" on the topic of the death penalty for drug traffickers.
He said: "I agree that it is important to have tough laws, but... capital punishment as a demonstration of the tough law and resolution to fight against drug problems is something that I can't support."
In response, Mr Shanmugam insisted that the death penalty is an important part in Singapore's comprehensive anti-drug regime.
"This fight is never won. We are in a difficult situation, close to drug producing countries and we have maintained the death penalty as a deterrence," he said.
"The quantity of drugs that you need to have in your possession before the death penalty kicks in is enough heroin to supply 180 people for seven days... this is a large number of people that you are going to destroy the lives of."