At the Committee of Supply (COS) Debate in Parliament on 1 March 2021, Ministers of State for the Ministry of Home Affairs Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim and Desmond Tan shared about the Home Team’s efforts in combating drugs, supporting the rehabilitation of ex-offenders and enhancing partnerships with the community. Here are five highlights from their speeches.
1. Dealing with Growing Areas of Concern in Drug Abuse
The global drug situation continues to be worrying, and more needs to be done to safeguard Singapore's zero-tolerance policy towards drugs. In terms of Preventive Drug Education, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) educates students about the dangers of drugs through activities like talks and competitions. CNB strengthened its anti-cannabis narrative in 2020 and will continue to counter narratives that downplay the harms of drugs.
This year, we will also amend the Misuse of Drugs Act to regulate New Psychoactive Substances based on their potential to produce a psychoactive effect. This will allow CNB to take swifter enforcement action.
2. Strengthening the Rehabilitation and Reintegration of
In 2019, the drug rehabilitation regime was further enhanced to commit third-time and subsequent drug abusers who are not charged with any other criminal offences to the Drug Rehabilitation Centre, instead of being charged in court and liable for long-term imprisonment. A recent study by the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) revealed that the two-year recidivism rate for drug abusers who went through the Enhanced Drug Rehabilitation Regime was eight percentage points lower than those who did not.
Effective rehabilitation and reintegration require strong community support, family and vocational support. For families of inmates who need support, SPS will make referrals to Family Resource Centres or other social service agencies. This year, SPS and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) will also strengthen coordination and information exchange with FSCs on inmates with family members in need of support. This will ensure timely access to FSC resources.
Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) has charted a career masterplan to train inmates for careers in key sectors. YRSG has also mapped out a skills masterplan under which it has developed pathways for inmates to continue to acquire skills after release. Under a new Train and Place and Grow initiative, partner industries and training providers will offer employment and continuous upgrading through a work-study arrangement after inmates' release.
3. Partnering Stakeholders to Combat Scams
In 2020, more than 15,000 cases of scams were reported, a 65% increase from 2019. The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has re-organised its resources, setting up the Anti-Scam Centre in 2019. Through the Transnational Commercial Crime Task Force, SPF has also partnered foreign law enforcement agencies in Malaysia, Macau and Hong Kong to tackle cross-border scam syndicates targeting victims in Singapore.
The Inter-Ministry Committee on Scams will also deepen its partnership with the community and private sector stakeholders to combat scams.
4. Engaging the Community on Policies and Legislation Related to the Private
The new Security Agencies Competency Evaluation (SACE) framework will enable security agencies to harness technology and augment critical areas such as training; operations; and command, control and communications. This will set new benchmarks for the industry.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) takes a very serious view of the abuse of security officers, and will amend the Private Security Industry Act to include new offences to address the common types of verbal and physical abuse that security officers face when carrying out their duties. These offences will also carry harsher penalties compared to similar offences against the general public.
5. Enhancements to Road Safety
To better protect elderly pedestrians and students, we will increase the penalties for motorists who commit offences at pedestrian crossings or offences that endanger pedestrian safety in Silver Zones and School Zones.
Ashley Tuen and Soo Jun Xiang
2 March 2021