Published: 22 May 2018
My Parliamentary colleague, Ms Sun Xueling
Director CNB, Mr Ng Ser Song
Home Team and CNB colleagues
Partners and friends
1. I am very pleased to join you today at CNB’s Workplan Seminar 2018.
KEEPING SINGAPORE DRUG-FREE
2. Keeping Singapore drug-free remains an imperative for us. But it is no easy task. The situation around, the regional and international situation does not look pretty. The global and regional situations in fact, are worsening. Southeast Asia is home to the world’s largest methamphetamine market, and the second largest opium and heroin market. It is estimated that the trafficking of methamphetamine and heroin in the region generated more than S$43 billion annually.
3. New psychoactive substances remain a threat. Rogue chemists create dangerous cocktails of drugs and sell it to abusers, some of whom think that these substances are not dangerous. Well, they are seriously mistaken.
4. The global movement towards more liberal attitudes on drugs will only worsen the situation. There are growing calls for drugs to be legalised. Amidst these pressures, some countries that have traditionally held a strong stance against drugs have started to back down. But Singapore will remain firm in our zero tolerance stance.
CNB HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN ITS EFFORTS
5. We have an effective and robust strategy to keep Singapore drug-free. Much of this is due to the hard work of CNB and its officers. Over the years, CNB has been successful in implementing preventive drug education or PDE programmes.
6. For example, ssocial media outreach and anti-drug advocacy were established as new cornerstones of CNB’s strategy. Multiple social media campaigns have been kickstarted to counter misinformation. The United Against Drugs Coalition and the Anti-Drug Abuse Advocacy Network were launched, to rally organisations and mobilise community resources in public awareness campaigns to amplify the anti-drug voice.
7. CNB has also enhanced its efforts targeting youths. For example, CNB involves youths who volunteered themselves as anti-drug advocates. Last year, some of our youth advocates shared Singapore’s drug control approach with foreign delegates at the Asia-Pacific Forum Against Drugs. They had also proactively initiated an islandwide event to distribute items to spread the anti-drug message and commemorate World Drug Day.
8. In the area of supply reduction, tough laws and effective enforcement have kept traffickers at bay. CNB crippled 23 drug syndicates in 2017. More than 1,600 operations were conducted at our checkpoints to intercept drugs entering Singapore.
9. Our strategies are successful. Our tough regime protects our people from drugs. A majority of Singaporeans believe in the zero tolerance policy towards drugs. 89% of youths surveyed agree that our drug laws are effective. Drug abuse figures have dropped drastically from the 1990s. Our sense of safety is not threatened by the presence of drug abusers taking drugs, and traffickers peddling drugs openly.
10. Yet, not everybody agrees with us. There are calls for us to abolish the death penalty. Activists are asking for drugs to be legalised.
11. Our response to them is clear. Our approach has worked well for Singapore and we will continue to be tough on drugs. We recognise the harm and damage that drugs bring to our people. Every country has the right to choose the approach that is most effective and relevant under its unique context. And we will continue to do what is best and what works for Singapore and Singaporeans.
12. The efforts of CNB officers have significant impact on the next generation. Let me quote one example. Not too long ago, a female was arrested for drug trafficking. CNB officers also found out that she was the caregiver of a one-year-old toddler. The toddler was found in the company of a drug trafficker. The toddler was eventually handed to the care of Child Protective Service. Let’s imagine what would happen to the toddler, imagine if he continues to be taken care of by people who abuse and sell drugs, the kind of environment he grows up in.
13. Our CNB officers have been actively following up on this case. Director CNB updated me that the toddler’s own biological mother was arrested last week. She has been on the run, moving from hideout to hideout to avoid CNB’s detection. She is now four months’ pregnant, and despite that, she was tested positive again for drug abuse. To ensure our children in Singapore can grow up in a clean, drug-free environment, we must continue to be tough on drugs.
CNB’s TRANSFORMATION PLANS
14. CNB has ambitious plans to renew and strengthen its capabilities. I will speak of 3 key enablers in CNB’s Transformation Plans. First, technology. Second, people, and third, partnerships.
15. On technology, it is a force multiplier for CNB to augment its operational capabilities, improve work processes and optimise resources.
16. The Next Generation Reporting Centre is one good example of use of technology. The urine procurement process today is cumbersome and manual. Officers have to do the dirty task of handling urine samples, exposing them to health risks. It also takes officers away from doing other important work. CNB wants to automate the urine procurement process using robots. This makes the process more efficient and faster than manual handling. It is also a secure process, resistant to tampering and contamination of urine samples. This also reduces the health and biohazard risks faced by CNB officers as they come into lesser contact with the urine samples. I am happy to note that trials will start in July this year. It will be the first of its kind in the world.
17. The Integrated Drug Enforcement Administrative System II (IDEAS II) is another significant project for CNB. It will be CNB’s next generation unified investigation and case management system. It will transform the way officers work across the different stages of operations. Officers will be equipped with mobility applications on the field where there will be better link analysis and integrated screening capabilities. Electronic investigation papers will be interfaced with CNB’s partner agencies.
18. Second, people. CNB officers remain the key driver of CNB’s Transformation Plans. CNB has done much to prepare its officers for their roles. Upgrading of skills continue to be CNB’s key focus. CNB’s trainers have undergone professional programmes to refine their instructional methods. Mobile learning modules allow officers to refresh their knowledge, anytime, anywhere. CNB officers are better equipped to deal with the public more effectively.
19. On the third point, partnerships. CNB cannot win this fight against drugs alone. Forging strong partnerships with the public and private sectors, as well as the community is imperative. We need a strong network of partners to leverage their presence and reach, to push out anti-drug messages more effectively and to counter falsehoods that undermine our anti-drug efforts.
20. Many of our CNB partners are here today. Thank you for standing with us in this fight against drugs. Your support is key to our success. One of the partners who stood with us is Shalom Movers.
21. Shalom Movers has been active in the United Against Drugs Coalition since last year. They have encouraged their staff to attend PDE talks. Their COO Mr Gabriel Lam and staff were also featured in CNB’s Facebook series “Singaporeans Against Drugs”. More notably, at the recently-launched Drug Free Zone Campaign, Shalom Movers had mobilised 100 delivery vehicles to spread the anti-drug message. Thank you for “driving” our anti-drug cause.
22. We also need an active citizenry to be galvanised and empowered to advocate for a drug-free Singapore. The National Campaign Against Drugs is one platform that will promote advocacy. CNB will be doing a lot more to create awareness.
23. There will be a series of anti-drug events in the coming months: the Dadah Itu Haram campaign, DanceWorks! and CNB’s first-ever light-up event at the Marina Bay where the area will be lit up in green and white - colours which symbolise our united stand against drugs.
24. CNB will take a more ground-up approach. Projects and initiatives will be co-created with CNB’s partners. For example, ITE College West students have produced videos on drug abuse. These videos paint a real picture of how drug abuse has devastated families. In fact, one of the students was motivated to participate in the project, because of how his family was affected by drug abuse. He wanted to use the videos to spread the anti-drug message to more people.
25. Our fight against drugs will never be an easy one. As we deal with current challenges, new ones will emerge. It is important that CNB and its partners stay focused and remain committed to the vision of a drug-free Singapore. Let’s continue to invest in technology, upgrade our officers’ skills, and strengthen partnerships with the community.
26. Thank you, and I wish all of you a fruitful workplan seminar.