Ministerial Meeting to Form a Global Coalition Against Synthetic Drug Threats – National Statement by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Published: 07 July 2023

Mr Secretary,


Ladies and gentlemen,

1. Good evening from Singapore. 

2. I regret that I am unable to join you at this meeting, but it is my pleasure to address you through this recorded speech.

Synthetic Drugs Threat

3. The global synthetic drug threat is serious, and it is growing. 

4. The UN’s 2023 World Drug Report has highlighted that the cheap, easy, and fast production of synthetic drugs has radically transformed many illicit drug markets.

5. The report has also raised concerns with certain industries lobbying for more loosely regulated drug policies, to maximise their own profits, at the expense of public health. 

6. Globally, the proliferation of synthetic opioids has led to many drug overdose deaths, and countless more lives devastated by the abuse of such drugs. 

Global Drug Control Regime 

7. The three United Nations International Drug Conventions aimed at reducing drug abuse by controlling the supply of drugs, form the bedrock of the global drug control regime. 

8. We need to strengthen international cooperation, to reduce the supply of precursors and synthetic drugs.

9. However, solely focusing on reducing drug supply is not enough. We must also address the demand for drugs.  

Singapore’s Approach 

10. Some countries have used the language of human rights to push for harm reduction approaches. 

11. We appreciate that they may need to do this, based on their own specific situations. This is a matter of sovereignty. Each country must decide for itself, given its own specific situation. 

12. In Singapore, we adopt a multi-pronged, harm prevention approach, aimed at reducing both drug demand and supply. 

13. We reduce demand through:  

(a) Preventive drug education. We engage the public on the harm of drugs through extensive partnerships with the community; and

(b) Robust enforcement. Our law enforcement agencies are effective in detecting drug consumption activities; and also

(c) Rehabilitation and reintegration. For drug abusers, we put in place effective, evidence-based rehabilitation programmes to help them kick their drug habits and to provide them with psycho-social support for effective reintegration into society. 

14. We reduce supply through: 

(a) Strong laws. We have strong laws against drug trafficking that are enforced rigorously; through

(b) International cooperation. We work closely with other countries to disrupt transnational drug trafficking activities; and through

(c) Capacity building. We actively contribute to regional and international capacity building efforts, to raise our collective abilities to deal with the drug menace. 

15. Through these measures, we have managed to keep the drug situation in Singapore under control and keep our community safe from drugs.


16. We thank the United States for convening this meeting.

17. We welcome the formation of this Coalition which can complement existing multilateral and regional cooperation mechanisms under the Drug Conventions. 

18. Singapore stands committed to working with our international partners to contribute to this cause. 

19. Thank you.