Parliamentary Speeches

Committee of Supply Debate 2021 on “Combating Drug Abuse; Strengthening Rehabilitation and Reintegration” – Speech by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development

Published: 01 March 2021

1.    Mdm Chairperson, I will speak on combating drug abuse, rehabilitation and reintegration, and immigration for foreign dependants. Some members today are wearing the Anti-Drug pin and Yellow Ribbon pin, to demonstrate their support of our national efforts in these areas. I thank members for doing so.


Dealing with Growing Areas of Concern in Drug Abuse

2.    The global drug situation continues to be worrying.


3.    Last December, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs narrowly voted to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which lists the most dangerous drugs.


4.    This may lead some to believe that cannabis is harmless, despite strong evidence to the contrary.


5.    More needs to be done to safeguard our zero-tolerance policy towards drugs.


Preventive Drug Education (PDE)

6.    Preventive drug education is our first line of defence.


7.    The Central Narcotics Bureau, or CNB, educates primary and secondary school students about the dangers of drugs through activities like talks and competitions.


8.    CNB continues to partner students from Institutes of Higher Learning to co-create projects, to encourage older youths to become anti-drug advocates. For instance, CNB worked with Ngee Ann Polytechnic students on a social media marketing campaign, YouUseYouLose, which reached almost 300,000 people.


9.    CNB strengthened its anti-cannabis narrative in 2020. For example, information on the harms of cannabis was pushed out as advertisements, and a short film on cannabis was produced and screened in cinemas.


10.    We will continue our efforts to counter narratives that downplay the harms of drugs. 


Rigorous Enforcement

11.    Mr de Souza spoke about halting the international flow of drugs. CNB works with regional counterparts to share intelligence and conduct joint operations to deal with transnational drug activities. The Home Team has strong enforcement measures at our borders to detect traffickers and drugs. In 2020, CNB seized about $11.6 million worth of drugs. The Home Team intercepted 568 parcels containing suspected drugs and related paraphernalia, many of which were online purchases.


12.    Mr de Souza and Mr Sitoh mentioned New Psychoactive Substances, or NPS. Currently, because of how NPS are listed in the Misuse of Drugs Act, there may be a time lag from detecting to listing a novel NPS.


13.    This year, we will amend the Act to regulate NPS based on their potential to produce a psychoactive effect, to allow CNB to take swifter enforcement action.


Strengthening Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Offenders

14.    Mr de Souza asked about rehabilitating youth drug abusers. Youths are placed on the Youth Enhanced Supervision programme or channelled to the Community Rehabilitation Centre or Drug Rehabilitation Centre, depending on various factors such as their assessed risk level. Each youth is matched to the most appropriate intervention programme to best support their rehabilitation. 


15.    Mr de Souza and Mr Zhulkarnain asked about the rehabilitation and re-integration of offenders.


Differentiated Treatment of Offenders

16.    In 2014, the Enhanced Drug Rehabilitation Regime, or EDRR, was introduced for first- and second-time drug abusers. This aligned rehabilitative interventions to the abusers’ risk of re-offending and level of dependency on drugs.


17.    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 DRC, instead of being charged in court and liable for Long-term imprisonment.


18.    Mr de Souza asked about the effectiveness of this calibrated approach. A Prisons’ study revealed that the two-year recidivism rate for drug abusers who went through the EDRR was 8 percentage points lower than those who did not. We will assess the effectiveness of the 2019 enhancements when we have sufficient data.


Community Support

19.    Effective rehabilitation and reintegration require strong community, family and vocational support. I will speak in Malay, about community support.

[Start of Malay speech]

20.    Masyarakat Melayu Islam telah mencapai kemajuan dalam memerangi dadah. Kadar penagih dadah Melayu bentan dalam dua tahun selepas dibebaskan telah merosot daripada 42 peratus bagi kohort keluar 2011 kepada kira-kira 30 peratus bagi kohort keluar 2018.


21.    Namun begitu, kita tidak boleh leka. Kita terus berusaha untuk menurunkan lagi bilangan tersebut. Menerusi kempen “Dadah Itu Haram”, Biro Narkotik Pusat (CNB) bekerjasama dengan pihak masjid dan rakan-rakan kerja masyarakat untuk mengadakan aktiviti-aktiviti jangkauan.


22.    Kementerian Dalam Negeri, iaitu MHA bekerjasama dengan agensi-agensi di bawah M Kuasa Tiga (M3), MUIS telah menubuhkan pejabat Pusat Khidmat Penjagaan Berterusan bagi Pesalah dan Keluarga, iaitu FITRAH untuk memberikan sokongan menyeluruh kepada golongan banduan dan keluarga mereka.


23.    Buat masa ini, para relawan FITRAH menjalani latihan untuk membekalkan mereka dengan kemahiran yang bersifat luas, seperti kaunseling, agar dapat menyokong penerima bantuan mereka. Kami akan mempertimbangkan saranan Cik Nadia untuk mempersiapkan para relawan untuk mendampingi banduan yang pelbagai latar belakang dan keperluan.


24.    Encik de Souza menyebut tentang inisiatif sokongan rakan sebaya. Melalui Rangka Kerja Relawan Penjagaan Berterusan, para relawan yang telah membina hubungan dengan banduan melalui program-program dalam penjara dapat terus menyediakan sokongan pro sosial bagi mereka selepas mereka dibebaskan.


25.    Terdapat kumpulan-kumpulan bekas pesalah yang bersatu untuk memberikan sokongan antara satu sama lain. Tahun ini, Rangkaian CARE akan menubuhkan rangka kerja untuk menyokong kumpulan tersebut, yang berfungsi sebagai rangkaian pro sosial bagi bekas pesalah.


26.    Kami akan terus bekerjasama secara rapat dengan kumpulan-kumpulan masyarakat untuk mengukuhkan usaha jangkauan dan integrasi semula.


[End of Malay speech]


Family Support

27.    Ms Nadia asked what more can be done to support families of inmates and ex-offenders.


28.    For families of inmates who need support, Prisons will make referrals to Family Service Centres (FSCs) or other social service agencies.


29.    This year, Prisons and MSF will strengthen coordination and information exchange with FSCs on inmates with family members in need of support. This will ensure timely access to FSC resources.


30.    Besides training volunteers who work with inmates, Prisons will extend training opportunities to those who assist inmates’ families. Together, our efforts to better support families will also help to reduce intergenerational offending. 



Career and Skills Development for Inmates and Ex-Offenders

31.    Mr Zhulkarnain asked about enhancing the employability of ex-offenders.


32.    Yellow Ribbon Singapore or YRSG, previously known as SCORE, has charted a career masterplan to train inmates for careers in key and growth sectors.


33.    YRSG has also mapped 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.


34.    In 2020, YRSG partnered organisations to offer training in media and precision engineering. This year, TAP and Grow will be expanded to the Logistics and Infocomm sectors. Training facilities for these sectors will be set up in prison.


Employment Opportunities for Ex-Offenders

35.    Under the Jobs Growth Incentive that was launched in September, ex-offenders are eligible for the higher tier of wage support. This has expanded the employment opportunities available to ex-offenders.


36.    Mr Murali asked about encouraging short sentence inmates to take advantage of the increased job opportunities.


37.    YRSG offers career guidance and job matching to all inmates, regardless of the length of their sentence. From 2018 to 2020, an average of 2,560 inmates received employment assistance prior to release each year. Of these, about 5.5% served short sentences, with the rest comprising long-term or DRC inmates. In all, about 95% of all who received assistance between 2018 and 2020 secured a job. YRSG and Prisons will intensify outreach to create greater awareness of the opportunities available and we will take your suggestions.


38.    Dr Tan Wu Meng suggested introducing a Yellow Ribbon mark to recognise firms that practise inclusive hiring of ex-offenders.


39.    We have been recognising such employers through the previous SCORE Appreciation Awards. 


40.    Nonetheless, a Yellow Ribbon mark could encourage more employers to partner with YRSG and offer more employment opportunities to ex-offenders. YRSG will explore this further, and I thank you for your suggestion.


Immigration Pathways for Foreign Dependents of Singapore

41.    On immigration, Mr Gerald Giam asked about permanent residence for foreigners with family ties to Singaporeans.


42.    Each PR application is evaluated holistically on a range of criteria, including but not limited to economic contributions, educational qualifications, and applicant’s ability to integrate into society. In general, PR applicants with family ties to Singaporeans are already considered more favourably to those without.


43.    Foreigners with family ties to Singaporeans who are not able to obtain PR but wish to continue residing in Singapore may apply for a Long-Term Visit Pass, work pass or Student’s Pass.



44.    Parliamentary Colleagues, thank you for your strong support. With your continued support, and that of all Singaporeans, the Home Team will continue to keep Singapore safe and secure. Thank you, Mdm Chairperson.