Central Narcotics Bureau Workplan Seminar 2024 – Speech by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development

Published: 10 July 2024

Director, Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) Sam Tee,

Working Committee Members of the Inter-Ministry Committee on Drug Prevention for Youths,

Partners of CNB, 

CNB and Home Team Officers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


1. A very good morning to all of you. I am so happy to see so many of you here today for CNB’s Workplan Seminar.

2. Over the years, I have witnessed first-hand the passion and belief of CNB officers as you pursue your mission of a drug-free Singapore. It is a very difficult mission, but our officers have always carried it out with unwavering conviction, diligence and determination. 

3. It is a dangerous and high-risk job, but our officers are clear on their mission to keep Singapore drug-free, and are passionate to be part of this effort and CNB. I feel proud of our officers. I think we are blessed and fortunate to have them. I want to appreciate them and I hope you can join me in giving them a big round of applause.

4. I am also happy to see many anti-drug advocates, volunteers and other partners here with us today. I’m told that there are about 600 attendees from MOE and partners from other organisations. Your attendance is as much a testament to your collective desire to keep Singapore drug-free, as it is to CNB’s belief that it needs to work alongside the community, if we are to be successful in our fight against drugs.  

CNB’s Achievements in 2023

5. If you look at the global drug situation, it continues to worsen. Around the world, we see a growing amount of news and reports of drug cartels and drug violence, and often, innocent people getting hurt. Just last month, the head of Europol’s narcotics department said that cocaine production has been “skyrocketing”. He added, “Bombings, killings, professional assassinations, shootings [are] happening almost every day in [the] European Union”, as a result of narco-violence. 

6. Closer to home, a record of 190 tonnes of methamphetamine were seized in East and Southeast Asia last year. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that, “Organised crime groups [are] lowering the production costs and scaling up production by using non-controlled chemicals”. This is a worrying trend, because it means the supply of drugs will grow and will be harder to control, the drugs will become cheaper, and more people will have access to drugs. 

7. Despite these challenges, CNB has done well to keep Singapore relatively drug-free. Last year, it made significant drug seizures, with an estimated market value of about S$15 million. CNB also disrupted 25 drug syndicates, a commendable achievement.

8. Besides tackling supply, it is equally important to address the demand for drugs, through upstream prevention, and supporting recovering abusers to stay clean. CNB has been reviewing its supervision regime, based on rehabilitation science and research, and to adapt to the changing demographics of abusers. It launched the pilot trial of Supervision 2.0 last year, which leverages technology and streamlines processes to make supervision more effective, but also more efficient and less disruptive for the supervisee. For example, hair analysis testing or HAT will be the default testing method for CNB supervisees. As HAT has a longer detection window, this allows for the reporting frequency to be reduced to once every three months, instead of twice a week under the urine testing regime. 

9. CNB and the Singapore Prison Service are pushing the boundaries further, and are now jointly evaluating an instant hair test kit together with HTX (Home Team Science and Technology Agency). Today’s hair testing requires 30 days to turn around the results. The initiative would be game-changing, enabling instantaneous determination of drug consumption, using the more hygienic approach of testing hair rather than urine. The immediate results would enable CNB officers to make decisions on follow-up in a more timely manner. I invite attendees to view the exhibition on this project outside the auditorium, during the reception later. 

Growing Concerns: Liberal Attitudes Towards Drug Use Among Youths

10. Despite CNB’s success in keeping the local drug situation under control, there have been more cases of youths engaging in drug trafficking and abuse, and their age has also been on the downtrend. In the first four months of 2024 alone, 16 drug offenders who were under the age of 16 were arrested, compared to 24 such arrests in the whole of 2023.

11. These trends point to the changing attitudes of some of our youths towards drugs. Survey data reflects this too. The most recent National Drug Perception Survey showed that two out of ten adults said that they agreed or felt neutral about the statement, “Drug taking is fine as long as it doesn’t harm other people”. In contrast, a higher proportion, three out 10 youths, felt that drug taking was fine as long as it did not harm others. Youths, more than adults, seem to take the stance that drug abuse is a personal choice and therefore acceptable. This difference is even more stark, when the question posed involves cannabis – only 79% of youths agreed that cannabis should remain illegal in Singapore, compared to 91% of adults. 

12. I think this is largely because our youths are more exposed to misinformation online and from foreign jurisdictions, which perpetuate a benign view of drugs, and advocate therefore a more relaxed stance towards drugs. 

13. Over time, and across a generation, such liberal attitudes can corrode the society and its value system, and result in harms that are hard to reverse. In the US, some states which have adopted more lax drug control policies have witnessed an entire generation being hooked on very lethal and harmful drugs. For example, after decriminalising drug use and possession in 2020, the state of Oregon observed yearly fentanyl overdose rates grow by an estimated 1,500%, since before the pandemic. To curb widespread drug use, the state recently announced it would be reverting to recriminalising drug possession. The US Department of Health and Human Services reported that about one in four Americans, aged 12 years or older, or about 70 million people, admitted to using illicit drugs in 2022. This is a shocking statistic. 

Focus on Drug Prevention Among Youths

14. Prevention is our first line of defence. CNB has rolled out many initiatives to drive home the anti-drug message, including that drug abuse is not victimless but impacts the family and wider community. It has been organising roving exhibitions across the island to commemorate Drug Victims Remembrance Day. We have also developed a campaign microsite for people to make their promise to stay drug-free. To-date, we have garnered over 95,000 online pledges – an encouraging show of support.

15. I was at the exhibition at Northpoint City last weekend where I met many families and children who expressed appreciation for our efforts to bring the drug-free message to the community. The exhibition will be at Jurong Point this weekend, followed by Heartbeat@Bedok next weekend. If you are nearby there, I encourage you to visit it with your family and friends. It is a very interactive exhibition with lots of useful information – a commendable effort by the CNB. 

16. Parents have an especially important role to play because they are the key figures of influence and authority for their children. CNB has worked with the Ministry of Social and Family Development to curate preventive drug education materials, which have been incorporated into their Families for Life parenting programmes. These resources help parents to start conversations at home about the harms of drugs, and to teach their children to be discerning when presented with misinformation on drugs. These conversations need to start early, when the children are still young, and before they start experimenting with drugs, sometimes on the influence of friends and peers. 

17. CNB is also organising a Parents’ Conference towards the end of this year. Speakers will share their perspectives and provide parenting advice on ways to engage their children on the topic. In conjunction with this conference, young ex-abusers will publicise their stories on how their parents subsequently helped them keep away from drugs. There will also be insights from social work practitioners who work with youth abusers and their families, on what parents can do to protect and prevent their children from falling prey to drugs. 

18. Another initiative that will involve youth and parents is NCADA’s collaboration with Campus Legends, an annual inter-tertiary e-sports tournament. The collaboration aims to increase awareness of the drug-free cause among the gaming community. An inaugural parents’ seminar will be organised alongside the Campus Legends Finale in August, to build parents’ awareness of their role in preventive drug education. 

Mobilising Government and Community Partners

19. Preventive work cannot be done by CNB alone. It is a whole of society endeavour. CNB has been working closely with other Government agencies under the umbrella of the Inter-Ministry Committee on Drug Prevention for Youths (IMC) to grow the momentum and reach of our anti-drug efforts. Our DrugFreeSG Champions, nominated from the various IMC agencies, serve as ambassadors in their respective professional and personal circles. I want to thank all our Champions – and CNB’s other community partners present today – for being strong advocates and lending your time and energy to this important cause. 

20. I also want to highlight the role that the private sector can play in spreading the anti-drug message. It may be simple things, but they can go a long way. For example, Autobahn Ten Square combined key visuals from our Drug Victims Remembrance Day campaign and displayed them on the exterior digital screen of the building. Other partner organisations illuminated their buildings in green and white – the colours of the anti-drug movement – on World Drug Day last month. I welcome more companies to come forward and help us spread the message.


21. Let me conclude.  We must continue to stand guard and stand firm against drugs, so that as a society, we can remain safe and healthy. CNB will continue to do its part – through enforcement, education and engagement, and building on the partnerships that it has established. I hope that today’s Workplan Seminar will also result in fresh ideas and initiatives, to help us sustain this message and resolve. 

22. My sincere thanks to all of you, and let’s continue this journey to keep Singapore safe and drug-free. Thank you, and have a nice day.