The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill was passed by Parliament on 15 January 2019.
Provisions That Will Take Effect on 1 April 2019
- The following provisions of the Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) (MDA) Act 2019 (“Act”) will take effect on 1 April 2019:
(a) Empowerment of Enforcement Officers to Collect Oral Fluids
- The Act authorises the collection of oral fluids (saliva) from a suspected abuser to detect drug consumption. The screening will be done using on-site testing devices to quickly identify suspected abusers for further tests and investigation. Failure to provide oral fluids constitutes an offence under the Act, and is punishable by a maximum of two years’ imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine.
(b) Ex-drug Abusers to be Required to Provide Urine or Hair Specimens
- The Act empowers the Director of CNB to order the following persons to present themselves for urine or hair specimen tests at CNB when required: (i) those who have previously been convicted of drug consumption or of failure to provide urine or hair specimens; and/or (ii) those who have been admitted to a gazetted drug rehabilitation institution (e.g. Drug Rehabilitation Centre (DRC)) or emplaced on a supervision order issued under the MDA. This ensures that ex-abusers stay drug-free, and allows for more timely interventions if the ex-abusers relapse. Failure to comply is punishable by a maximum of four years’ imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine.
(c) Mandatory Minimum Punishment for Consumption Offences
- Currently, there is no mandatory minimum punishment for first-time abusers convicted of drug consumption or failure to provide urine samples. The Act prescribes a mandatory minimum imprisonment of one year for a first-time conviction for drug consumption or failure to provide urine/hair samples.
(d) Previous DRC Admission and Other Convictions to be Counted for Enhanced Punishment
- Under the Act, repeat abusers are liable for enhanced punishment or Long Term (LT) imprisonment, whichever is applicable, for the following antecedents: (i) a previous conviction for drug consumption; (ii) a previous conviction for failure to provide urine or hair specimens; (iii) a previous admission into a gazetted drug rehabilitation institution; and (iv) a previous conviction for drug consumption under the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Act.
(e) Punishment for Abetment Offences
- The Act clarifies the punishments for abetment offences by specifying that the punishment for abetting an MDA offence in Singapore, from outside of Singapore, carries the same punishment as the primary offence abetted.
(f) Specify Powers for Search and Seizure of Vehicles
- The Act classifies different transportation devices into categories such as vehicles, vessels and unmanned craft, to make clear the different types of devices which may be seized and forfeited.
(g) Enhanced Powers of Arrests for Special Police Officers and Removal ofReferences to Vigilante Corps
- In 1976, MHA extended the powers of arrest under the MDA to special Police officers and members of the Vigilante Corps (VC) to assist CNB in its anti-drug operations. However, as not all special Police officers or VCs were involved in anti-drug operations, the Police would issue letters of authorisation to specify which special Police officers or VCs had such powers. Today, the majority of special Police officers are involved in ground patrols or operations which may entail the arrest of drug offenders, while VCs are no longer involved in drug operations. The Act therefore removes references to VCs in the MDA and their powers of search and arrest. It also withdraws the requirement for special Police officers to be authorised by a Police officer to exercise powers of arrest, and empowers the special Police officers to search ships, aircrafts, trains and other transportation devices.
Other Provisions to Take Effect in Second Half of 2019
- There are provisions of the Act which will only take effect in the second half of 2019. These include the introduction of new contamination and child endangerment offences; the increase in the maximum duration of detention for rehabilitation; the increase in the maximum duration of supervision; as well as the mandatory requirement for parents/guardians of youth supervisees to attend counselling. These will be announced separately.
 The Police Force Act and Criminal Procedure Code authorise special police officers to perform functions in the same capacity as regular police officers. Special police officers include (a) NSFs; (b) operationally-ready NSmen during the period of service; and (c) volunteers or ex-NSmen enrolled under section 68 of the Police Force Act as a member of the Special Constabulary during the period of duty. The VC was formed in 1964 for volunteers to perform some limited police functions, such as community patrolling. Today, the VC consists solely of NSmen who do not qualify as Police officers within the ambit of the Police Force Act, and are instead separately covered under the Vigilante Corps Act.