Launch of CNB's Interactive Book 'Be Careful, Max!' - Opening Remarks by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development

Published: 26 January 2022

Ms Tan Lee Jee, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of PCF Sparkletots,
Friends from PCF Sparkletots,
CNB colleagues,
All of you who are watching this morning,

A very good morning and happy new year!

Launch of CNB’s Interactive Book

1.   I am very happy to be here with you to launch ‘Be Careful, Max! – an interactive book about stranger danger for preschoolers. The book features animal characters to get kids interested, to be aware of the danger of being approached by strangers who may share harmful products with them.

2.   This is a targeted approach where we work with preschoolers and move upstream with educators, and so forth.

3.   This book is the result of the close collaboration between CNB and a group of graduates from Nanyang Polytechnic. I want to thank Natalie Tan, Rachel Moo and Sophie Lim for doing this.

4.   We also worked closely with educators from MOE’s Preschool Education Branch. They acted as advisors to the project team, to ensure that the book would be suitable for preschoolers. This was very important to ensure that the book enhances learning, and preschoolers can learn different values while enjoying the learning.

5.   If you look at the book, it is not just about how students can pick up good values, but also about how students, our children, can also learn about issues relating to healthy behaviours growing up. In the book, you do not see the sharing of drugs explicitly, but it brings up good values and some elements of growing up safely, in a healthy environment.

6.   Teachers will be able to read the stories to preschoolers, point out the animals, which makes it more fun for learning.

7.   We also focus on how families, parents and educators can play a part. We find that it is important for families and educators to come forward to play a part, and share some of the meaningful opportunities where they can spend time with their kids, and look at things in a very positive way and help their kids to grow up healthy.

Growing Liberalism among Youths in Singapore

8.   If you look at the global trends around the world which relate to drug use, you will see increasingly liberal attitudes towards drug use and policies. This includes the process of decriminalisation and legalisation of drug use. This is worrying because it will affect the way our young children feel, the way our people have access, and how they will respond to drugs.

9.   That is why we need to go upstream in this process. We need to educate not only about the harmful effects of drugs, but also about the effects of drugs on individual families, and how parents can play a part.

10.   When you look at some of the surveys done by the National Council Against Drug Abuse, you see a liberalisation of attitudes towards drugs amongst the young, especially those below 30 years old, which show that they are not as concerned about the harmful effects of drugs. As such, they feel that they are able to handle drugs and manage addiction. But in reality, that is not so.

11.   You will realise that when one goes into drug addiction, one may suffer more and more as their addiction goes deeper.

12.   That is why we want to continue working together with educators and parents to go upstream, to bring awareness to the preschool level. We hope that the preschool students and children will not only have an interactive and fun time reading the book, but at the same time, learn to be careful, pick up healthy habits, and avoid getting themselves involved in unhealthy activities as they grow up. This is where how 'Be Careful, Max!’ will help.

The Role of Family and Educators

13.   We want our youths to have support from educators and parents. It is important for them to get motivation and support from parents. Otherwise, they will go towards harmful avenues in trying to solve their issues. In my conversations with inmates, I found that some were serving time as they were advised to solve their problems with drugs. However, after they have taken it, they realised that drugs deepened their problems instead of solving them. In this way, parents play a very important role in providing that support, helping the kids, and providing positive environment so that the children will feel that is the right place to seek help. It is important for parents and educators to play this role.

14.   CNB has also produced information resources such as toolkits and booklets which both educators and parents can use, and these are available on CNB’s website. I think it is important for us to share such information kits. I have been sharing them on my social media too, so if you want to know more, you can visit my social media or CNB’s social media, where we often share some of the information relating to the harms of drugs and cases where we have arrested people involved in drug activities. We want each and every one of us to play a part in this.

15.   I hope we can work together because our children and youths are our future, and we have a duty to invest in their well-being so that they can thrive and flourish in a safe and healthy environment.

Concluding Remarks

16.   While we want to continue our existing efforts, today marks the launch of the book and sends a strong signal that we are going upstream. We want to prepare our young to not only be aware of the harms of drugs, but to also help them develop resilience to say no to drugs, to say no to people around them who want to bring harm to their lives. Instead, we want them to say yes to healthy living, say yes to many more good opportunities in their lives, and say yes to a brighter future.

17.   Parental involvement is essential as we are our children’s first teachers. On this note, I thank the parents for supporting us in this book launch. I also thank PCF Sparkletots for their support, and our Nanyang Polytechnic graduates for supporting our anti-drug cause.

18.   It is important for us to continue this journey so that we can develop a drug-free Singapore. We want to see how we can nurture a drug-free culture in Singapore and secure a bright future for our youths.

19.   On that note, I thank everyone for joining us this morning and I thank those of you who are out there, supporting and contributing very important efforts in our journey for a drug-free Singapore.

20.   Have a good day ahead.