Published: 21 August 2023
Chairman and AMMTC Leader of Indonesia,
Your Excellency Chief of Indonesian National Police, Police General Listyo Sigit Prabowo
Excellencies and Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A very good afternoon.
1. I would first like to express Singapore’s appreciation to the government of Indonesia for hosting the 17th AMMTC and Its Related Meetings this year, and for your warm hospitality.
2. The AMMTC is an important platform to discuss and strengthen regional cooperation to combat transnational crime, and I am happy that we are able to gather here in person.
3. Transnational crime remains a key threat to our region’s peace and prosperity.
At the recent 42nd ASEAN Summit, our leaders reiterated the call for stronger collaboration among ASEAN Member States in tackling transnational crimes and safeguarding the security and stability of the region.
4. I am heartened to hear about the constructive discussions that took place during the 23rd SOMTC and Its Related Meetings, held in June this year in Yogyakarta, where SOMTC-Leaders and officials discussed how we can strengthen cooperation in combating transnational crime.
5. Today, I will touch on the key transnational crimes affecting Singapore and the region, namely scams and cybercrime, illicit drug trafficking and terrorism.
Scams and Cybercrime
6. Cybercrime, which includes cyber-enabled scams, is a persistent threat. According to a study conducted by the Global Anti Scam Alliance, around US$55.3 billion was lost to scams worldwide in 2021, an increase of about 16% from 2020.
7. In Singapore, scams have overtaken other crime types to constitute about 59% of overall crime. Last year, there were 31,728 reported cases of scams, a 32% increase from 2021. Scam victims in Singapore lost about S$660 million in 2022.
8. A whole of society approach is required to combat scams. The Government, the private sector, and the community, need to work together.
9. In Singapore, we partner with members of the community in our fight against scams.
(a) For example, the government organised engagement sessions with members of the community and co-opt them in our scam prevention campaigns. We engage different segments of the community to allow us to better understand the vulnerabilities of different target groups and co-create solutions and awareness campaigns.
(b) The Police also partner students from Singapore Polytechnic to develop an interactive card game that aims to raise awareness of common scam signs and the ways we can protect ourselves.
10. Besides working with the community, our government agencies also work closely with industry partners to protect our citizens from scams. For example, the Police have partnered social media companies and e-marketplaces to remove suspicious accounts and advertisements. This has allowed us to remove more than 3,100 accounts and advertisements suspected to be involved in scams in 2022.
11. Earlier this year, the Police set up a dedicated Scam Public Education Office to drive our anti-scam outreach.
The Scam Public Education Office will collaborate with public sector agencies, as well as private sector and community partners, to create and spread anti-scam messages, to target various segments of the population.
12. The Anti-Scam Command Office was also set up last year to enhance our abilities to disrupt scam operations and recover scam proceeds. The co-location of staff from major retail banks at the Anti-Scam Centre have also facilitated the swift tracing of funds and freezing of accounts suspected to be used to move scam proceeds.
13. We have also stepped-up international anti-scam enforcement. In 2022, the Police working with regional partners, dismantled 13 transnational scam syndicates and arrested more than 70 persons involved in scam cases.
14. With many scam syndicates operating across borders, it is critical that we strengthen our cooperation to target scams. We need to enhance our ability to take down scam syndicates swiftly and improve asset recovery efforts.
15. As the ASEAN Lead Shepherd for Cybercrime, Singapore appreciates ASEAN Member States’ continued support and cooperation in the cybercrime-related initiatives over the past year. We look forward to work with you to implement the work initiatives under the ASEAN Cybercrime Roadmap to further enhance ASEAN’s efforts in combating cybercrime, including scams, and improving the recovery of criminal proceeds.
Illicit Drug Trafficking
16. Next, I will touch on illicit drug trafficking. The drug situation in our region remains challenging. The East and Southeast Asian methamphetamine markets remain among the world’s largest, with 151 tonnes of the drug seized in 2022.
17. The drug situation has also been exacerbated by the availability of cheap synthetic drugs.
18. Singapore is concerned about the global shift in attitudes towards drugs. A particular concern is that our younger generation may be adopting a more casual attitude towards drugs. Misinformation about drugs like cannabis that are perpetuated on social media, can create a wrong perception among youths that these drugs are less harmful and addictive.
19. I would like to urge my fellow AMMTC leaders to remain committed in maintaining our collective zero-tolerance stance against drugs, and to work collectively in building a drug-free ASEAN. I would like to express my appreciation to ASEAN Member States for your endorsement of the Joint ASEAN Statement at the 8th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Drug Matters, slated to be delivered at the 67th Commission on Narcotic Drugs High Level Segment in 2024. Let us continue to reaffirm our commitment towards a Drug-Free ASEAN.
20. I would also like to take the opportunity to express my appreciation to ASEAN Member States once again, for supporting Singapore’s candidature at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) for the term 2024 to 2027. We look forward to contributing constructively at the CND. We will work together with you to safeguard and protect ASEAN’s common position on drugs at international platforms.
21. Finally, the threat of terrorism. We must remain vigilant to the threat of terrorism and violent extremism.
22. In Singapore, the self-radicalisation of individuals continues to be of great concern. Since 2015, 49 self-radicalised individuals have been dealt with under the Internal Security Act. 11 of them were youth aged between 15 and 20. Five of them had planned to carry out attacks in Singapore. This trend of youth radicalisation is particularly troubling.
23. As the terror threat continues to evolve, Singapore will continue to ensure preparedness by continuously enhancing our counter-terrorism capabilities. For example, the Police conduct regular exercises on counter-terrorism and other crisis response with various stakeholders, to improve our operational readiness against the terror threat. We would also continue to invest in new technologies to augment our capabilities.
24. We also work closely with religious and community partners and NGOs, to support our upstream efforts to prevent extremism from taking root in our society, and the rehabilitation of radicalised persons.
25. Regional collaboration and cooperation are vital in our fight against terrorism. We work closely with regional law enforcement agencies on operational exchanges to prevent, detect and disrupt terror activities. We also focus efforts on building the collective capacity of ASEAN’s counter-terrorism capabilities. Singapore has assumed the co-chairmanship of the Senior Officials Counter-Terrorism Policy Forum with Australia, which brings together regional partners to discuss counter-terrorism and security policy issues. We are also working together with UNODC and other ASEAN member states on a regional network for countering violent extremism.
26. Chairman and colleagues, to conclude, I would like to reiterate that it is critical that ASEAN member states remain united in dealing with the evolving transnational threats, particularly in addressing cybercrime and scams, drug trafficking and consumption, and terrorism.
27. Let us continue to work together to keep ASEAN safe and secure.
28. Thank you.