Singapore's National Statement Delivered at the 62nd Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) in Vienna, Austria - Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs
Published: 16 March 2019
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Singapore congratulates Mr Chair on your appointment as the Chair of the 62nd CND.
At this year’s CND, we will take stock of the implementation of international commitments to jointly counter the world drug problem.
In the last decade, the international community has made important commitments through three complementary and mutually reinforcing drug policy documents. They are the 2009 Political Declaration and Plan of Action, the 2014 Joint Ministerial Statement and the 2016 UNGASS Outcome Document.
Singapore is firmly committed to the spirit and recommendations in these documents. We also affirm our support for the CND as the United Nations body with prime responsibility for drug control matters.
These three international drug control conventions are the cornerstone of the international drug control system. There is no doubt - we have an established consensus. We also have a framework for joint action. Their effectiveness depends critically on the universal acceptance and application of this framework. We must not waver or lose precious time trying to renegotiate another new policy document. It is a distraction we cannot afford.
Of course, there is a no one-size-fits-all solution for everyone. States must have flexibility to implement drug control policies most suited for their national circumstances. However, states also have an obligation to act within the framework of international drug control conventions. This has been and must remain our promise to each other.
Just last week, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) released its Annual Report for 2018. The INCB has repeatedly warned countries about the risks if they legalise cannabis and cannabis-related products. Such policies also contravene the international drug control treaties. They will only set us back, and bring us closer to total defeat.
SINGAPORE’S APPROACH TOWARDS DRUGS
Drugs destroy lives. They rob people of their right to live, work and play in a safe environment. This right should be protected and not undermined by our failure to take effective actions against the drug problem.
This is why Singapore is big on harm prevention. We do not think it is wise to let the problem grow, and then try to reduce the harm it causes. Prevention saves victims and their families from unnecessary pain.
Earlier this year, we amended our Misuse of Drugs Act. It is now a crime to actively introduce a drug trafficker to another person, knowing the trafficker is likely to supply him with drugs. We have also made it a crime for an adult to expose children to these substances, or permit young persons to consume them.
We have also strengthened drug rehabilitation. We invest heavily in evidence-based programmes to help abusers give up their drug habits and reintegrate into society. These programmes include psychology-based initiatives, family programmes and skills training. After completing the rehabilitation, abusers will be put on a community-based programme and receive post-release support and supervision.
We work with community partners to support abusers in areas such as skills training, job support and counselling. The Singapore Anti-Narcotics Association, which is one of our NGO partners, has put up an exhibition at this CND to showcase its programmes. I encourage you to visit the exhibition.
Our anti-drug approach is strongly supported by the public. In a public perception survey on Singapore’s drug-related policies last year, 97.8% of participants agreed that we should continue to maintain tough laws to keep drugs out of Singapore.
REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
Singapore also recognises the importance of international cooperation. Working with UNODC, our focus is supply reduction. In 2017, we jointly hosted a regional training programme to combat the growing challenges posed by new psychoactive substances (NPS).
We also worked on demand reduction. Last September, we hosted another joint regional training workshop on reducing recidivism through rehabilitation and reintegration. We will continue to do more capacity-building by conducting a regional workshop on preventive drug education in the second half of this year.
We cooperate internationally for drug enforcement. Last year, we held 19 joint operations with our foreign counterparts to disrupt drug supply networks.
Singapore will continue to work closely with our ASEAN counterparts, and be a constructive partner with the UNODC and relevant international organisations, to counter the world drug problem.
In conclusion, Singapore’s approach towards the drug problem has worked well for us and is effective, with the drug situation under control.
Ultimately, we must all ask ourselves what kind of world we want for ourselves, our children and their children. Is it a world where millions of lives are lost every day because of drug abuse? Or a world where we can thrive, free from the scourge of drugs?
Let us make the right choice and recommit to our established consensus and framework for joint action. There is no time to lose.