Parliamentary Speeches

Committee of Supply Debate 2022 on “Combating Drugs and Securing Singapore” – Speech by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development

Published: 03 March 2022

Current State

1.    Sir, the Home Team continues to do well in keeping Singapore safe and secure. Prevention and rehabilitation play an important role in our successes.

Prevention and Reintegration

Upstream Measures to Deter Youth Offending

2.    Mr Vikram Nair asked about our efforts to identify and work with those who are at-risk of offending. Dr Shahira Abdullah asked about MHA’s efforts to prevent young individuals from offending and re-offending. 

3.    The Police and the National Crime Prevention Council have been jointly organising the Delta League since 2011. We engage youths through football tournaments, workshops and e-sports to imbue a sense of teamwork, discipline and social responsibility.

4.    In 2018, we set up the National Committee on Prevention, Rehabilitation and Recidivism (NCPR), to oversee national efforts to prevent offending and re-offending, and enhance the rehabilitation of offenders.

(a)    We piloted the Localised Community Network (LCN) in 2019 to provide support for children and youths who exhibit at-risk behaviours.
(b)    The Youth GO! Programme has been in place since 2012 and engage around 300 youths each month through structured activities to reduce risky behaviours, build positive relationships and life skills.

5.    Thanks to the hard work of the agencies and our partners, we have seen the number of youth offenders decrease by 28% over the past decade. Dr Shahira Abdullah asked about the percentage of youths who reoffend. 

(a)    The 2-year recidivism rate among youth offenders aged under 20, who were under the charge of the Singapore Prison Service (SPS), was 26.4% for the 2019 release cohort.
(b)    The 3-year recidivism rate of youth offenders aged under 16, who were on the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s (MSF’s) Guidance Programme, Probation or Youth Homes, was 14.9% for the 2016 release cohort.
(c)    We do not track if these youths’ subsequent offences become more serious in nature.

Supporting Reintegration

6.    Apart from upstream efforts, we also invest in rehabilitation and reintegration. Minister Shanmugam had spoken about rehabilitation in his speech. Our rehabilitation efforts would not be effective if the community is not willing to give ex-offenders a second chance. Dr Tan Wu Meng asked how we can improve job search prospects for ex-offenders, and further incentivise HR practices.

7.    Hiring ex-offenders is one of the most symbolic acts of acceptance.

8.    Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) has built a system of support to incentivise, recognise and empower employers to hire ex-offenders. 

(a)    Placement exercises are held in prison to match inmates with suitable employers prior to release.
(b)    YRSG provides Career Retention Support for ex-offenders. For up to 12 months, career coaches work with ex-offenders and their employers to set behavioural goals, and resolve work issues. Later this year, YRSG will launch the Friends of Yellow Ribbon network to galvanise individual community groups and employers to advance second chances.

9.    Currently, about 80% of ex-offenders assisted by YRSG are employed in lower-wage jobs. MOM will implement the Progressive Wage Mark (PW Mark) to accredit firms that pay progressive wages. The PW Mark will uplift lower-wage workers.

10.   Beyond employers, YRSG has put in place a Community Action Masterplan, to map out opportunities for the community to be involved, and better harness the strengths and aspirations of volunteers.

11.   Prisons partners community organisations and volunteers to  provide  pro-social support to ex-offenders when they are released into the community.

(a)    Under the Throughcare Volunteer Framework (TVF), volunteers involve them in activities after their release, and connect them to wider communities of support.

12.   In 2021, all 11 religious partners working with Prisons adopted the TVF. We are heartened by the strong support of prison volunteers and community partners.

Strengthening Approach to Combat Drug Abuse

Drug Situation

13.   On the drug front, the local drug situation remains under control. However, there are still areas of concern. Among them is the observation that there is a gradual slide towards increasingly liberal attitudes.

14.   To better protect Singapore from the scourge of drugs, we will strengthen the three pillars of our harm prevention efforts, tough laws and robust enforcement, preventive drug education (PDE), and rehabilitation and aftercare. We intend to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) to better regulate New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), expand PDE efforts to forge a national consensus of zero-tolerance against drugs, and enhance drug supervision to support former abusers in leading drug-free lives.

Tough Laws and Robust Enforcement

15.   First, Mr Christopher de Souza asked how the MDA could be made more flexible to deal with new variants of NPS.

16.   MHA will amend the MDA to introduce a new legislative framework to regulate NPS based on their potential to produce a psychoactive effect. This will allow us to be more responsive to emerging forms of NPS. We will share more details in due course.

17.   Mr Derrick Goh asked how we address the use of the digital space for dealing drugs. The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) will continue with operations targeting traffickers and abusers who use encrypted messaging applications such as Telegram.

Preventive Drug Education

18.   Second, Mr de Souza and Mr Derrick Goh asked how we address liberalising attitudes towards drugs and strengthen resilience for a drug-free Singapore, especially among youths. Mr Raj Joshua Thomas asked about the impact of our efforts in spreading the anti-drug message.

19.   CNB has been leveraging social media to secure mindshare to build a drug-free Singapore. In May 2021, CNB released the short film ‘Down The Rabbit Hole’.  The film sheds light on the mercenary motivations of drug pushers and traffickers, who have profited at the expense of vulnerable and addicted persons.

20.   To involve parents and educators of youths, CNB published an information booklet on Staying Free from New Psychoactive Substances. This booklet provides tips on identifying tell-tale signs that their children are abusing drugs, and ways to help youths stay away from drugs. In fact, if you go to the CNB website, you’d be able to see many resources and information.

21.   We also engage on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. We proactively share information and photos whenever there are arrests, so that we can get people aware and involved. I hope you can support us and proactively share our messages, news and issues so that we can reach out to more Singaporeans.

22.   CNB also organises an annual video competition to provide a platform to engage older youths interested in video production. This allows youths to articulate their understanding of the harms of drugs and promote anti-drug messages through short videos. This year, CNB will reach out to more students through pre-competition workshops and provide opportunities for collaboration with CNB, to develop PDE resources for their peers.

23.   I am heartened that a Home Team Public Perception Survey conducted in 2020 found that more than 9 in 10 respondents below the age of 30 were aware of PDE efforts. We will continue to engage our people to forge a strong national consensus of zero-tolerance.

Rehabilitation and Aftercare

24.   Mr Zhulkarnain asked how MHA is working with the community to strengthen support for drug offenders and ex-offenders. I had earlier spoken about efforts to support the reintegration of ex-offenders. Former drug abusers will be subjected to supervision by CNB, to support them in leading drug-free lives.

25.   CNB will be enhancing its drug supervision scheme, to better support the reintegration of former drug abusers.

26.   Since 2019, CNB has been piloting Community Supervision Skills (CoSS) sessions, where CNB supervision officers will check in on supervisees and assess their residual reintegration needs. If necessary, supervisees will be referred to the appropriate agencies for follow up. I am pleased to announce that CNB will be rolling CoSS out progressively, with full implementation island-wide by March next year.

27.   Mr Murali spoke on the mixing of abuse while reporting for supervision. Currently, there are different reporting days for youth and adult supervisees, to prevent undesirable interactions and contamination. Further, supervisees are not allowed to communicate with each other during reporting, and are to leave the reporting centre once they are done.

[Start of Malay portion]

28.   I will now speak in Malay on the supportive role played by the Malay Muslim community in our fight against drugs. Encik Zhulkarnain menginginkan maklumat terkini tentang kerjasama MHA dengan masyarakat Melayu Islam dalam usaha memerangi dadah.

29.   Pada November 2021, sebuah rangkaian yang dianggotai 26 badan-badan Melayu Islam (MMO) dan 11 rangkaian bandar M³ telah dilancarkan untuk mengukuhkan kolaborasi dan sokongan bagi para pesalah, bekas pesalah dan keluarga mereka. Ini termasuk badan-badan Melayu/Islam seperti FITRAH, PERGAS dan AMP, yang menyediakan program-program intervensi dan jangkauan. Kami akan terus memberikan sokongan kepada MMO yang lain untuk membina dan mengembangkan rangkaian tersebut.

30.   Kempen Dadah Itu Haram (DIH) telah berlangsung hampir lima tahun dengan matlamat bekerjasama dengan masyarakat Melayu Islam untuk menyebarkan mesej hidup sihat, hidup bebas dadah. Kini, kami mempunyai lebih daripada 230 sukarelawan dan penyokong, bersama dengan 340 rakan kongsi yang dianggotai pelbagai MMO, kumpulan masyarakat, kumpulan berkepentingan khas, kedai gunting rambut dan tempat makan yang turut serta dalam kempen ini. Usaha mereka ini memastikan kempen DIH dapat memberikan sokongan kepada lebih daripada 650,000 peserta melalui lebih daripada 140 acara yang diwujudkan secara bersama. Untuk mengekalkan penglibatan berterusan di dalam situasi COVID-19, CNB telah menjalankan lebih daripada 20 acara maya dan hibrid pada tahun 2021.

31.   Pada tahun 2021, kesemua 71 masjid merata Singapura telah menyertai Hari Antarabangsa Menentang Penyalahgunaan Dadah dan Pemerdagangan Haram buat kali pertama dengan memaparkan sepanduk DIH dan kain rentang di pekarangan masjid. Acara ini termasuk khutbah Jumaat yang khususnya disiapkan oleh MUIS tentang kepentingan larangan penyalahgunaan dadah dan juga meningkatkan kesedaran tentang bahaya dadah.

32.   Tinjauan terkini mengenai DIH amat menggalakkan. Ia menunjukkan sokongan padu masyarakat terhadap kempen ini dan kejayaannya dalam menyebarkan mesej antidadah kepada kumpulan yang ditujukan dalam kalangan masyarakat Melayu Islam. Kami sedang mengkaji kempen DIH untuk mengenal pasti titik pembelajaran yang boleh digunakan untuk meningkatkan jangkauan kami kepada kumpulan lain. Kami berterima kasih kepada masyarakat atas sokongan yang diberi untuk memerangi dadah, dan kami mengharapkan lebih banyak usaha kerjasama.

[End of Malay portion]

English Translation

28.   I will now speak in Malay on the supportive role played by the Malay Muslim community in our fight against drugs. Mr Zhulkarnain asked for updates on MHA’s collaboration with the Malay Muslim community in the fight against drugs.

29.   In November 2021, a network comprising 26 Malay Muslim Organisations (MMOs) and 11 M3 towns was launched, to strengthen collaboration and support for offenders, ex-offenders and their family members. This includes Malay Muslim organisations such as FITRAH, PERGAS and AMP, which provide intervention and outreach programmes. We will continue to reach out to other MMOs to build upon and expand this network.

30.   The Dadah Itu Haram (DIH) campaign has been running for almost five years, with the aim of working with the Malay Muslim community to spread the message of living healthy, drug-free lives. Today, we have more than 230 volunteers and advocates, together with 340 partners comprising various MMOs, community groups, special interest groups, barber shops and eateries, on board the campaign. Their efforts have seen the DIH campaign reach out to over 650,000 attendees through over 140 co-created events. In spite of the COVID-19 situation, CNB conducted over 20 virtual and hybrid events in 2021 to continue engagement.

31.   In 2021, all 71 mosques in Singapore participated in the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking for the first time, with the display of DIH banners and standees at their premises. The event also included a specially crafted Friday sermon by MUIS to discourage drug abuse and raise awareness of the dangers of drugs.

32.   It is very encouraging to note that a recent survey on DIH found that community support for the campaign is strong, and the campaign is successful in spreading anti-drug messages to its intended audience in the Malay Muslim community. We are studying the DIH campaign to identify learning points that could be applied to enhance our outreach to other groups. We thank the community for your support in the fight against drugs, and we look forward to more collaborations.

Handover of Healthcare

33.   Sir, I will now address Dr Tan Wu Meng’s question on ensuring proper handover of medical care for ex-offenders.

34.   In general, ex-offenders who need further follow up after release will be referred to Changi General Hospital’s specialist clinics for continuity of care. Prisons is exploring with SingHealth on facilitating follow up appointments at other public healthcare institutions which are closer to the ex-offender’s home.

Celebrating National Service

35.   Before I end, I want to highlight a special group of people – namely, our national servicemen, or NSmen.

(a)   Our NSmen serve alongside our regular officers, with the same dedication and commitment.

36.   Mr Desmond Choo asked about our plans to enhance the NS experience, and Mr Patrick Tay asked what more could be done for our Home Team NSmen.

(a)   SPF and SCDF will be adjusting operational requirements so that more NSmen, especially those with slight physical or medical limitations, can take on more front-line roles.

(b)   We are also looking at ways of improving the touch-points for our NSmen, for a more positive NS experience.

Commemorating NS55

37.   This year, we commemorate 55 years of National Service. It is timely that we will be officially opening the HomeTeamNS@Bedok Clubhouse at the end of the year.


38.   Sir, the Home Team will continue to work together with the community to keep Singapore safe and secure, and free from the harms of drugs. Thank you, Sir.