Press Releases

MHA Statement in Response to Facebook Post by Ms Teo Soh Lung on the Ministerial Statement on Singapore’s National Drug Control Policy

Published: 17 May 2024

1. We refer to the Facebook post by Ms Teo Soh Lung (on 12 May 2024), regarding the Ministerial Statement (MS) on Singapore’s National Drug Control Policy. The Statement was made by Minister K Shanmugam on 8 May 2024, in Parliament.

2. Ms Teo’s post claimed that the Government’s drug laws and policies were ineffective, and that “the problem of drug abuse and drug trafficking has not been solved”. She claimed that Minister Shanmugam had “attacked various Singaporeans and organisations”, and had deliberately singled out a group of activists and accused them of misleading the public. She also accused Minister Shanmugam of misusing Parliamentary privilege, and said that former drug abusers and their families were in Parliament to be “entertained by the Minister”.

3. We regret these statements. In particular, we regret that Ms Teo thinks so poorly of former drug abusers who are seeking to kick the habit. MHA invited former drug abusers to Parliament to celebrate their courage and resilience in their rehabilitation journey. They were moved by the tribute given to them in Parliament, and many are now helping other drug abusers to kick the habit as well. Their families were invited too, to recognise the critical role that they played in helping their loved one turn over a new leaf. All of them were aware of the media coverage for the event. 

4. The drug problem cannot be permanently “solved”, as Ms Teo seems to suggest. There will be people who will abuse drugs. What we can do is to try and reduce the number, and save as many lives as we can. If we go soft on drugs, the consequences will likely be very bad, with a lot more suffering and deaths. The MS laid out the deteriorating global drug situation and its resulting harms. Countries which have adopted soft drug control policies have seen horrific consequences such as increased overdose rates and brutal drug-related crime and violence. The numbers and photographs referred to in the MS speak for themselves. 

5. The MS had also set out, factually, what transpired in some Court cases, where there have been numerous unmeritorious applications, to try and avoid the sentence being carried out. The MS also set out what the Courts have said. The Courts have said on multiple occasions that many court applications filed by or on behalf of capital prisoners, often at the last minute, were unmeritorious or amounted to an abuse of the Court’s processes. Some of these applications were aided by anti-death penalty activists. In one case, the Court found the application to be “nothing more than a blatant and impermissible attempt” to obstruct the carrying out of the sentence. The family involved in the matter gave to the Courts the email of an activist who was helping them; and the Minister referred to that. POFMA directions have also been issued to some of these activists, for falsehoods relating to these prisoners.

6. Ms Teo said that Minister Shanmugam had used Parliamentary privilege in making his Statement. She implies that in some unspecified way, the making of the Statement in Parliament, with Parliamentary Immunity, was wrong. Minister Shanmugam stands by what he said in Parliament, and expressly waives Parliamentary privilege for the contents of the MS, which is annexed to this statement. If Ms Teo or anyone else feels that the Statement’s contents are actionable – they can take action. 

7. The Government will do everything it takes to keep Singapore safe and protect the lives of Singaporeans. To that end, we will do our utmost to keep drugs out of our society.