Parliamentary Speeches

Committee of Supply Debate 2023 on “Tackling Terrorism, Combatting Drugs and Enhancing Rehabilitation” – Speech by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of National Development

Published: 27 February 2023

1.   Mr Chairman, the Home Team continues to do well in keeping our streets safe. 

Tackling the Threat of Terrorism

2.   However, terrorism poses a serious threat to our security. 

Operational Capabilities to Fight Terrorism and Terrorism Financing

3.   Mr Christopher de Souza asked about efforts to combat terrorism.

4.   International cooperation is critical to tackling terrorism and terrorism financing. We work closely with overseas counterparts to share intelligence on potential terror threats and conduct joint operations. We will continue to enhance collaboration through international platforms such as the Financial Action Task Force and INTERPOL.

5.   Within Singapore, we have implemented structures and processes to take swift action against terrorism financing. This includes the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Steering Committee, which coordinates efforts amongst Government agencies.

6.   We also work closely with private sector partners under the Countering the Financing of Terrorism Operational Group. This workgroup facilitates round-the-clock investigative collaboration, allowing us to investigate terrorism financing expeditiously.

Preventing Youth Radicalisation

7.   Youth radicalisation cases have increased significantly in recent years. From 2002 to 2014, only two youths, aged 20, were dealt with under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for terrorism-related activities. Since 2015, ISA orders were issued to 11 self-radicalised youths aged 20 and below.

8.   Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim asked about measures to address youth radicalisation.

9.   The Internal Security Department (ISD) has intensified its outreach.

(a)   In 2022, ISD organised close to 70 counter-terrorism or radicalisation outreach events in schools and Institutes of Higher Learning targeting students and educators. This includes workshops to train school counsellors  to identify signs of radicalisation and on early intervention. 

10.   The upcoming Online Criminal Harms Act, announced by the 2nd Minister earlier, will also give us powers to direct takedowns of online content facilitating radicalisation.

11.   As the threat of terrorism in Singapore remains high, we will continue to enhance our operational capabilities and expand our outreach. 

Overview of Drug Situation

12.   I will now address cuts on drugs.  

Global Drug Situation

13.   Globally, drug use continues to rise, posing challenges to keeping Singapore drug-free.  

Local Drug Situation

14.   Locally, while the drug situation remains under control, we are concerned with drug abuse amongst youths. While most youths support a tough stance against drugs, some younger Singaporeans take a more permissive attitude, especially towards cannabis. 

Strengthening Approach to Combat Drug Abuse

15.   Mr Gan Thiam Poh asked how we are preventing drug abuse. We will continue to strengthen our harm prevention approach to combat drug abuse. 

Preventive Drug Education

16.   Our first line of defence against drugs is a well-informed public. 

17.   Mr Christopher de Souza and Mr Derrick Goh asked about preventive drug education (PDE) for youths.

(a)   The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) will expand PDE efforts in schools. Secondary schools which did not do a PDE engagement in the last two years, will conduct at least one engagement in 2023. Moving forward, CNB is working with MOE to ensure all primary and secondary schools conduct at least one PDE programme annually. 

(b)   With TikTok becoming increasingly popular amongst youths, CNB launched its TikTok account last year, which regularly posts short videos of our drug enforcement efforts.  

18.   Mr Christopher de Souza asked about sensitising the public to the threat of drug liberalisation globally.

(a)   CNB highlights trends of concern in the global drug situation through various communication channels.

(b)   As part of the #CNBPerspectives Series launched in 2022, CNB took to Facebook and Instagram to share worrying trends from the World Drug Report 2022. In fact, I also posted things relating to this to support their effort. These include the increase of cannabis-use disorders in jurisdictions which legalise cannabis for non-medical use.  

(c)   We also educate our anti-drug abuse advocates about the increasingly permissive views other countries have towards drugs, and train them to speak up against drugs.
Tough Laws and Robust Enforcement

19.   The second pillar of our anti-drug strategy is tough laws and robust enforcement. 

20.   To deter Singaporeans and PRs from abusing drugs overseas, CNB has stepped up enforcement at the Checkpoints with the deployment of Saliva Test Kits from January this year. These kits, like the one I am holding here, they are light and compact. They offer a more efficient way to detect drug abusers at the Checkpoints. 

(a)   This month, CNB and Police started trialling joint roadblock operations to detect drug abusers. Saliva Test Kits will also be used.

21.   Mr Derrick Goh asked about enforcement against New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) and vaping. The speed and breadth at which NPS variants have appeared have often outpaced authorities’ ability to control them. On 24 February, MHA introduced a bill to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act to control psychoactive substances based on their capacity to produce psychoactive effects rather than their chemical structure alone. This will empower CNB to take swift enforcement actions against illicit activities involving NPS. Enforcement against vaping will be addressed at MOH’s COS.    

Rehabilitation and Aftercare

22.   The third pillar of our anti-drug strategy is enhancing rehabilitation.

23.   Mr Raj Joshua Thomas asked about efforts to reduce drug recidivism. CNB recently reviewed its drug supervision regime and has deployed suitable officers to take on specialist roles in supervision to enhance the rehabilitation process. 

24.   As I announced last year, CNB has been piloting Community Supervision Sessions, in short, CoSS, since 2019, where supervision officers help supervisees address financial, housing and other rehabilitation needs. 

(a)   A supervisee who has benefitted from CoSS is 46-year-old Mr. Aidil. After his release from the Drug Rehabilitation Centre (DRC) in 2021, Aidil was afraid of not being able to find a suitable job. Through CoSS sessions, Aidil was given career guidance and advice on his rehabilitation needs by his supervision officer. With this support, Aidil landed a part-time job within five months of his release. 

(b)   As the pilot has shown good results, I am pleased to announce that CoSS will be progressively rolled out to all supervisees by June this year. 

25.   Mr Murali Pillai asked about support for desistors with drug-abusing pasts. The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) has enhanced its Psychology-based Correctional Programmes (PCPs) to be more targeted for repeated drug abusers during their in-care period. These PCPs will cater more time to address negative attitudes and improve emotional regulation, as both factors contribute to repeated drug use.

Enhancing Rehabilitation 

Strengthening Support for Inmates, Ex-offenders and their Family to Reduce Long-Term Recidivism 

26.   Mr Murali Pillai, Mr Christopher de Souza, Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim and Mr Raj Joshua Thomas asked about efforts to reduce recidivism, and Mr Patrick Tay and Dr Tan Wu Meng asked about improving the employability of ex-offenders. 

27.   Singapore’s two-year recidivism rate is low and stable at around 20% for the 2020 release cohort. Our five-year rate is higher, at between 40% to 43%. Reducing long-term recidivism will not be easy. We must work with the community to offer offenders and drug abusers an eco-system of support, starting from when they enter our prisons and DRCs and continuing after their release. Let me share our strategy to support them. 

28.   First, by enhancing their skills and employment outcomes. Gainful employment allows ex-offenders to be financially independent and reduces risks of re-offending. In 2023, SPS and Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG) will continue to work with partners to help ex-offenders upskill and boost their longer-term career progression. 

(a)   In collaboration with the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), SPS has set up education hubs to enroll more inmate students. In 2023, SPS will work with ITE to run more short courses, such as the Computer Maintenance course, following positive reviews.

(b)   I am pleased to announce that YRSG is launching the YR Sandbox initiative to develop new career options in emerging sectors. YRSG will work with industry partners to hire releasing inmates and provide on-the-job training or work-study programmes. Potential sectors include skilled sectors like Digital, Built Environment and Agri-Tech.

(c)   This new initiative complements TAP & Grow – TAP meaning “Train and Place”. This scheme provides inmates with industry training in prison and potential job placement with a partner employer. 

(i)   TAP & Grow has been launched in the Precision Engineering, Media, and Logistics and Wholesale sectors. As of 2022, a total of 422 inmates have completed the training programmes. 

(d)   In 2023, YRSG will expand TAP & Grow to Food Services, which we expect to benefit up to 700 inmates and ex-offenders anually. 

(e)   Mr Murali Pillai asked about the Uplifting Employment Credit (UEC). It will provide time-limited wage offsets to encourage employers to hire ex-offenders. More will be announced at MOM’s COS. Currently, about two-thirds of ex-offenders secure employment within six months of release. We hope to improve this and will raise awareness of the UEC and other available support amongst employers.

(f)   Dr Tan Wu Meng asked about recognition for inclusive employers. In 2022, over 200 employers, community partners, ex-offenders and volunteers were recognised for their contributions towards second chances through the Yellow Ribbon Awards. Sir, I’d like to express my appreciation for NTUC in joining SPS and YRSG in engaging with inmates and ex-offenders to understand their concerns, priorities and aspirations through the #EveryWorkerMatters Conversations. 

29.   Second, by strengthening pro-social support in the community. The community, including ex-offenders themselves and their family, plays a critical role. Mr Christopher de Souza asked about enhancing post-release mentorship.

(a)   I am pleased to announce that SPS has piloted a new scheme for volunteers to assist in the case management of selected supervisees emplaced on Community-Based Programmes (CBPs). Volunteer Case Officers will guide the supervisees towards a pro-social life during and beyond the CBP.

(b)   SPS is working with community partners to launch the Desistor Network in April this year. Desistors who have stayed clear of crime and drugs will serve as mentors to recently released ex-offenders. This will also strengthen desistors’ sense of self as contributing members of the community. 

(c)   Mr Raj Joshua Thomas asked about follow-ups from the CARE Network Summit 2022 and expanding YRSG’s role. YRSG will continue to work closely with SPS and community partners via the CARE Network to tackle long-term recidivism. From 2023, the CARE Network will tap on the Desistor Network to co-opt desistors in planning and conducting programmes for ex-offenders.

(d)   Family support is also critical. Mr Murali Pillai asked about supporting offenders to mend family ties. To aid in their family reintegration, SPS works with community partners to provide family programmes to inmates, and befriending and other pro-social support to ex-offenders after release.

30.   Mr Christopher de Souza and Mr Raj Joshua Thomas asked about creating greater acceptance for ex-offenders and recruiting more volunteers to help with rehabilitation.  

(a)   The Yellow Ribbon Project’s (YRP) outreach has generated high awareness and support. Based on a 2022 survey, about 91% of respondents were aware of YRP’s objectives, rehabilitation challenges faced by ex-offenders, and the need to reduce stigma towards them.

(b)   SPS and YRSG have expanded roles and training for volunteers in areas of in-care and aftercare, including support for families. Collectively, SPS and YRSG have more than 4,000 volunteers supporting rehabilitation.

(c)   In 2023, YRSG will focus on showcasing inmates’ and ex-offenders’ talents and contributions to reiterate that ex-offenders can contribute to society.

(d)   Mr Murali Pillai asked about allowing desistors to perform at the National Day Parades (NDPs). We have been providing desistors with opportunities to showcase their talent at public events. The Yellow Ribbon Performing Arts Centre Alumni Band had performed at Red Dot August at the Esplanade for the past three years. So we will explore more opportunities.  

31.   Mr Raj Joshua Thomas asked about alleviating the impact of incarceration on one’s family.

(a)   Yellow Ribbon Community Project (YRCP) grassroots volunteers have engaged over 19,000 families since 2010, linking them to community assistance and ensuring their well-being. In 2023, we will strengthen support for inmates’ families by collaborating with more community resources, such as religious organisations, Social Service Offices (SSOs) and Family Service Centres (FSCs).

32.   Mr Patrick Tay asked for a review of the Registration of Criminals Act on spent offences. From time to time, MHA reviews the spent regime for criminal records. In our last review in 2021, we assessed that the existing regime continues to be appropriate to facilitate the reintegration of ex-offenders, in particular those who committed minor crimes. This position took into consideration the many initiatives to facilitate reintegration and reduce long-term recidivism. 

33.   Mr Patrick Tay asked about support for female ex-offenders. In September 2022, SPS set up a secular all-women halfway house, named Rise Above Halfway House (RAHWH). RAHWH provides gender-responsive interventions and facilitates social reintegration for the residents. As of February 2023, 31 female offenders have been emplaced to RAHWH. We will continue to support female ex-offenders and facilitate their reintegration.

34.   Next, Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim asked about collaboration with the Malay-Muslim community to better support inmates and ex-offenders. I will now speak in Malay about our community’s crucial role. 

Menggiatkan Kolaborasi dengan Masyarakat Melayu/Islam dalam Usaha Pemulihan

35.   Tuan, banyak badan-badan Melayu Islam (MMO) telah tampil ke hadapan untuk bekerjasama dengan SPS dan CNB di dalam usaha mencegah kelakuan jenayah dan berulangnya kelakuan jenayah, dengan menyediakan sokongan kepada pesalah, bekas pesalah dan keluarga mereka dari masa mereka di dalam penjara sehingga selepas mereka dibebaskan. Di antaranya adalah AMP, FITRAH, Jamiyah, Pergas, PPIS, Pertapis, Yayasan Mendaki dan masjid-masjid. 

36.   Izinkan saya berkongsi beberapa contoh bagaimana mereka telah tampil ke hadapan untuk menghulurkan bantuan. 

(a)   FITRAH telah menghasilkan program-program berasaskan agama yang berteraskan nilai bagi pesalah dan juga menyediakan khutbah solat Jumaat yang bersesuaian dengan keperluan pemulihan mereka. 

(b)   FITRAH telah berjaya mendapatkan sokongan daripada kesemua 71 masjid-masjid di Singapura untuk beri sokongan kepada pesalah, bekas pesalah dan keluarga mereka lebih daripada bantuan zakat. Hari ini, kesemua masjid-masjid tahu usaha FITRAH dan merujukkan mereka kepada FITRAH untuk mendapatkan sokongan seperti pendamping. 

(c)   Banyak MMO telah turut serta dalam usaha Singapura menyokong pemulihan pesalah. MHA mengiktiraf nilai-nilai yang terdapat dalam menyelaras kesemua usaha untuk membentuk sinergi yang lebih besar. Pada bulan November 2021, kami melancarkan Rangkaian Pemulihan MMO, yang menyatukan 26 MMO dan kesemua sebelas M³@Bandar. 

(d)   Sejak pelancarannya, banyak kerjasama telah dijalinkan. Contohnya, FITRAH telah bekerjasama dengan New Life Stories untuk membentuk sistem rujukan yang memanfaatkan kepakaran masing-masing. Rumah Peralihan Jamiyah pula telah bekerjasama dengan Kelompok Masjid kawasan Barat untuk menyokong penduduknya dalam usaha integrasi semula. 

37.   Memberikan sokongan kepada pesalah, bekas pesalah dan keluarga mereka bukanlah usaha yang boleh dilakukan oleh pasukan Home Team sahaja. Saya berterima kasih kepada MMO kerana bekerja rapat dengan kami untuk meningkatkan dan membuat perubahan dalam kehidupan benefisiari kita. . 

38.   Usaha dan sumbangan anda telah membantu mengekalkan kadar residivisme yang rendah dan menstabilkan jumlah pesalah dadah yang baru. Teruskan usaha  baik ini! 


39.   Sir, in conclusion, thanks to our Home Team Officers, Singapore remains safe and secure. We will continue to work with our community partners to combat terrorism, prevent drug abuse and support our inmates and ex-offenders. 

40.   Thank you sir.


1.   Additional Info on Saliva Test Kits (PDF, 32 KB)