On Assignment
United Against Drugs
How very strong public support against drugs has been bolstered by community – and individual – efforts to support ex-drug-offenders and their families.

The figures are striking – in a public perception survey conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in 2018, Singapore residents showed strong support for our anti-drug policies:

- 98% of respondents agreed that Singapore should continue to maintain tough laws against drugs.

- 93% of respondents endorsed imprisonment as an appropriate punishment for drug trafficking offences.

- 97% of respondents agreed that drug abusers should undergo rehabilitation.

Conducted between July and October 2018, the survey involved face-to-face interviews with 2,000 residents aged 13 and above. From prohibiting the legalisation of cannabis to matters of rehabilitation, the survey found that public support to be exceptionally high.
 
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Siti Nurshafiqah is committed to helping ex-offenders stay drug-free. PHOTO: Natasha Razak

The Community Plays its Part
Among those who have seen the damage that drugs can do – to individuals, families and children – is Siti Nurshafiqah Ashur, 28. Having taught at a special education school for three years, she wanted to do even more. Now a Senior Case Officer with AMP Singapore, Shafiqah provides support to ex-drug-offenders and their families.

In 2017, Shafiqah received one of her most challenging cases. As part of AMP’s Development and Reintegration Programme (DRP), she met Sharil (not his real name), an ex-drug-offender at the Drug Rehabilitation Centre (DRC).

The DRP is just one of many community-driven initiatives that helps ex-drug-offenders reintegrate into society. “It’s about time we break away from labels that stigmatise ex-offenders,” said Shafiqah, “and the DRP is one small step in helping them find their place in society again.”

Never Giving Up

Things with Sharil got off to a rocky start. “Being the same age as him, I found it challenging to manage his case initially,” shared Shafiqah. “At our initial counselling sessions, Sharil was unwilling to open up as he felt that I came from a privileged background and wouldn’t be able to understand him.”

AMP Collage
As part of her job scope, Shafiqah conducts home visits, interviews inmates and their family members and also organises workshop sessions. PHOTOS: Natasha Razak

But Shafiqah didn’t give up, and reached out to Sharil’s wife as well. “She shared her husband’s experiences with me,” recalled Shafiqah. “With that knowledge, I was able to tap on the things that he found strength in.”

Shafiqah helped Sharil to realise that as the sole breadwinner of his family, he had to stop abusing drugs in order to fulfil his duties as a husband and father of four.

Standing Together Against Drugs
This simple message made the difference. Today, Sharil is out of the DRC and has set up his own company. He’s also volunteering with AMP to deliver essential items to needy families.

While each successful rehabilitation is its own reward, Shafiqah noted that every member of the community had a part to play in the fight against drugs. “It might be tempting to say that I helped Sharil become who he is,” she said, “but it was his willpower and his family’s support that helped him reach his fullest potential.”


2018 Public Perception Survey on Singapore’s Anti-Drug Policies
In 2018, MHA conducted a public perception survey to study Singapore residents’ perception of the drug situation in Singapore, and their support for Singapore's anti-drug policies. Click here to read the survey findings.

  1. by Natasha Razak
  2. 17 May 2019
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