COVER GRAPICS: Phoebe Leow. PHOTOS: CNB
Over the years, the Central Narcotics Bureau
(CNB) has put in place rigorous enforcement, education and engagement efforts to achieve their vision of a safer, drug-free Singapore. However, these efforts will be futile without the support of our communities who are our strong ally to help spread the anti-drug message within their own circles of influence.
Following the Dadah Itu Haram (DIH) campaign which was launched in April 2017 for the Malay-Muslim community, the Bothaiporulai Ethirthu Nirpom (BEN or ‘We Stand United Against Drugs’), was launched in September 2019 to reach out to the Indian community.
Meet two members of the BEN team: ASP Arjun and SSS Hemma!
Assistant Superintendent (ASP) B Arjun, Senior Investigation Officer, CNB Investigation Division
Co-lead of CNB’s Indian Community Outreach (ICO) team which manages the BEN Campaign
Senior Staff Sergeant (SSS) Hemma Palan, Enforcement Officer, CNB Checkpoint Division
Member of ICO
Please share with us your role in the BEN team!
My role involves engaging and collaborating with community partners, including primary and secondary schools to deliver anti-drug talks to students as part of CNB’s preventive drug education (PDE) outreach efforts.
Youths are one of the main targets of the BEN campaign as we would like to instil the harms of drugs in them while they are young, so that they do not fall victim to drug abuse.
Our ICO team may be small, but we are constantly trying to come up with innovative ways to reach out to the Indian community and create awareness of our PDE and anti-drug advocacy efforts.
These include reaching out to gyms such as Sculpt Singapore and Gifted Fight Academy, collaborating with the Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA), Hindu or Sikh temples, Indian eateries and media platforms like MediaCorp Radio’s Oli 96.8FM.
What is the BEN campaign?
ASP Arjun and SSS Hemma during the Oli interview on 23 Jun 2021, in the lead-up to the annual International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, to raise further awareness on the harmful effects of drugs.
The BEN campaign was launched to promote a culturally relevant community-based approach against drugs. This allows for more targeted engagement with each community in Singapore as messages can be tailored to be more relatable within that specific community’s cultural context. It also allows CNB to have more meaningful relationships with community partners in our fight against drugs.
CNB’s partner restaurants putting up a sticker with the BEN logo at the campaign launch in 2019.
The campaign involves face-to-face engagement with the public, as well as partnerships with volunteers, community groups such as SINDA, the Hindu Endowments Board, tertiary institutions like National University of Singapore and Singapore Polytechnic, homegrown enterprises, and media personalities who warmly step forward to lend a hand.
Most recently, we kickstarted the second run of our football mentorship programme with SINDA Football Club (FC), with the aim of promoting a healthy lifestyle through sports and to provide an avenue for youths to seek peer support.
Launching the second run of “Getting the ‘Kicks’ from Football and Teamwork”, a football mentorship programme with SINDA FC, in 2022.
We have seen the success with the DIH campaign which garnered positive feedback from the community, showing that we are heading in the right direction for a targeted form of engagement. It is also heartening that volunteers and partners continue to approach us for future collaborations, and share our drug-free vision.
Welcoming new partners Sculpt Singapore and Gifted Fight Academy on board the BEN campaign in 2020 and 2021.
One of the most memorable campaigns for us was the very first BEN campaign outreach at the Deepavali Bazaar in 2019. Partners and volunteers of the campaign engaged the patrons of the bazaar by giving out Deepavali goodies like murukku and festive packets.
Traditional snacks for Deepavali 2020 care package.
We wanted to organise an outreach during Deepavali Bazaar in 2020 following the success of the 2019 Deepavali Bazaar, but we could not do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, the BEN campaign collaborated with two key partners, SINDA and the Indian Restaurants Association Singapore, to distribute Deepavali snacks and care packages with anti-drug messages to the community in line with safe management measures. The care package distribution enabled us to reach out to 1,500 and 1,900 families celebrating Deepavali in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
This year, we continued to collaborate with SINDA to distribute BEN collaterals at the Project Give Deepavali bazaar to spread anti-drug messages.
Teamwork makes the dream work!
Volunteers packing snacks with anti-drug messages for Deepavali 2021 goodie bags.
The officers involved in the BEN campaign are enforcement officers or investigation officers who take on BEN engagements as secondary portfolios. Thus, our ICO officers have to balance our core duties, families, alongside the BEN community outreach efforts. While it does get tiring sometimes, each of us firmly believe in the cause, and that’s what keeps us going.
We have received positive feedback from family members and friends who were eager to hear more about CNB’s work after listening to the radio broadcast on MediaCorp Radio’s Oli 96.8FM. This recognition is a boost to our efforts. The vision of a drug-free Singapore as well as the camaraderie among the ICO team are what drives us to push CNB’s BEN campaign to another level.
All smiles at a BEN outreach event in 2019.