DrugFreeSG Pop-Up at Suntec City - Transcript of Media Doorstop by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development

Published: 26 June 2022

Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim:

1.   As part of commemorating the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, we are having a DrugFreeSG Pop-up, like what you see today, as well as the DrugFreeSG Light-Up, which we will be having later, alongside many other events to engage the youth, to see how they can play a part in making Singapore drug free. 

2.   As you can see today, at this pop-up, we want to share about the harmful effects of drugs on the individual, society, as well as families in particular. And, we want to share with the public some of the specific effects of certain drugs that are commonly used by drug abusers and the people involved in drug abuse and trafficking. At the same time, we want to continue our journey in protecting our people from the harms of drug abuse and making them aware of some of the things that are happening around the world that may result in the liberalisation of attitudes with regard to drugs.

3.   I think this is an important journey, because as you can see over the years, although there has been a liberalisation of attitudes with regard to drugs, at the same time, we are raising awareness and getting more people onboard this journey towards a DrugFreeSG. Today, you see more young people coming together to work with us to enhance the awareness of anti-drug abuse, and they have come up with very targeted projects. For example, Singapore Polytechnic students have come up with programmes to reach out to their fellow schoolmates, to keep them away from drugs and choose healthy lifestyles instead.

4.   This year – and this is something that we are very happy about – we still have the light-up, and we have 35 partners who will be illuminating their buildings and structures. We have eight more partners this year, including community organisations such as Our Tampines Hub and Nee Soon East Community Club, as well as our public libraries. 13 [Community Libraries] shared information and held exhibitions to share about the harmful effects of drugs.

5.   Throughout this journey, we are aware that people have some knowledge or know that drugs are harmful. However, we want to develop resilience within the community. We want to develop a community where people know drugs are harmful, and they are able to say no to drugs. They will be exposed to information regarding the liberalisation efforts elsewhere, and this information may find its way onto their social media or they may come across it on the internet. And when they see that, I hope that they will say these [drugs] are harmful, and they will not be convinced that drugs are not harmful. I think this is what we want to develop. At the same time, I hope that our people, especially our young people, who may come in close contact physically with drugs when they are overseas, will not only know that it is harmful, but they will also have the ability to say no and stay away from it.

6.   So, we want to continue this journey. While we have been carrying out public outreach to say that drugs are harmful, we also want people to see that there are alternatives that can provide them with happiness and healthy lifestyles, and to stay away from the harms of drugs, because drugs cause harm to the individual, families and society. We can see how children are being neglected, because their parents or family members are affected by drugs. At the same time, the people who abuse drugs are affected, as it affects their livelihoods, the way they see things, the way they focus on their families and how they are able to sustain their lives. 

Question: As part of this year’s exhibition, are there any new substances/elements that maybe you want to educate the public on? I think there are some substances that have been more popular among drug abusers in recent years.

Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim:

7.   For this pop-up, we have tried to simulate the effects of when one takes drugs. For example, in the two simulated areas, they bring about the sense of giddiness, and the feeling of directionlessness, trying to figure out what is happening. When someone is on drugs, that person will have those kinds of feelings, and drugs will affect them physically.

8.   On the other hand, we also share about drugs that are commonly adopted, such as methamphetamine and New Psychoactive Substances. These are popularly adopted and used, and we want to show people the effects. These are the effects that we have seen and tested. Abusers have shared with us how it has affected their lives, and we want to share this more vividly with the public so that they are aware that it is not only about saying no to drugs, because drugs are harmful and drugs will cause lots of difficulties and bring harm to your family and society at large.

9.   That is why we must continue this journey with Singaporeans, because it is a shared responsibility. It is something that has been very pervasive worldwide, but we are very clear in our stance, because we care for our people, and we want to protect Singaporeans.

Question: My last question to you. Last week, you mentioned that Singapore is having more ambitious targets to reduce the five-year recidivism rate. How do you think an effort like this will play a part in improving the number?

Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim:

10.   In order to reduce the recidivism rate, I think what is key is to go upstream, so that more people are aware about the harms of drugs.

11.   Secondly, we need to help people understand what drug abusers go through in their lives, so that they will be able to give that support to their loved ones or within the community. That in itself is a journey that we will continuously try to develop together with the community.

12.   As such, we bring this pop-up within the community, so that more people will know that they can play a part in their families or with their friends, to stay away from drugs. Second, even for those who have taken it, we will support them in their rehabilitation journey. What is key is to help people understand what someone who is going through drug abuse will experience, and how they will be able to relate to it.

13.   This is consistent with our throughcare approach where CNB works closely with our other agencies such as the Singapore Prison Service to not only to eradicate drug abuse, but also to give support to our abusers, those who are going through rehabilitation, so that they will stay away from drugs and are able to get the necessary support to journey through and have better lives ahead.