Speech for 2M Masagos’ Opening Address at the
CNB Workplan Seminar 2015
Strengthening Our CNB Core, For A Future-Ready CNB
Mr Ng Ser Song, Director, CNB
Government and Non-Government Partners
I am pleased to be here with all of you today at the CNB Annual Workplan Seminar 2015.
Overview of Drug Situation
- As we plan for the year ahead, let us first take stock of the drug situation today. I will highlight three major trends that will have an impact on our fight against drugs:
- First, the significant increase in drug supply both globally and regionally. We need to continually be on guard against drug inflows, either for transhipment or for import to Singapore.
- Second, many countries have been unable to keep drug abuse in check. They have given up the fight, and are trying to solve the downstream effects of drug abuse by adopting harm reduction measures. Others have legalised cannabis consumption to alleviate prison overcrowding.
- Third, in Singapore, younger drug abusers below the age of 30 now make up a larger proportion of drug abusers arrested, with more abusing cannabis and coming from institutions of higher learning. These trends are indicative of the misperceptions that our youths have towards drugs. Based on our preliminary findings from focus group discussions with youths, more seem willing to experiment with drugs, especially when they are overseas and think that they are beyond the reach of our laws. Many also think that cannabis is a “soft drug”, based on what they read on social media.
Zero-Tolerance Against Drugs
- Against this backdrop, it is crucial that we retain society’s support of our zero-tolerance stance against drugs. Zero-tolerance means that we strongly reject the scourge of drugs and do not condone its presence in our society. We tackle both drug supply and drug demand, taking a tough stance against those who wish to profit from drug trafficking. At the same time, we rehabilitate those who consume drugs, while taking firm action against repeat abusers.
- Our tough laws and effective enforcement have kept our streets free from drugs. They deter organised crime syndicates from producing drugs in Singapore, and keep drug abuse low.
Singaporeans enjoy these benefits and strongly support our policies. We must retain the community’s trust and support and continue working towards a drug-free Singapore.
- We must also ensure that the next generation understands the significance of zero-tolerance, supports it, and does not fall prey to drugs. I currently co-chair, with MOS Sim Ann, a Task Force on Youths and Drugs which was set up to tackle the youth drug abuse problem head-on. We will release the Task Force’s findings and recommendations later this year.
CNB’s Role in Education, Enforcement and Engagement
- CNB plays a crucial role in our fight against drugs. CNB enforces our tough drug laws and supervises drug offenders after their release from rehabilitation centres and prisons. However, CNB’s work in education and engagement is just as critical. Indeed, CNB is more than just a law enforcement agency. I’m glad that your new mission and vision statements reflect this. I hope all CNB officers commit the new mission and vision to heart. The new mission and vision are also appropriate, given the theme of this year’s workplan seminar, “Strengthening Our CNB Core, For A Future-Ready CNB”. Even as CNB strives towards operational excellence today, CNB need to look ahead and aim to be future-ready in its education, enforcement, and engagement efforts.
- Given that CNB officers are at the frontlines in the fight against drugs, they also play a critical role in the area of Preventive Drug Education or PDE. CNB officers must reach out to and mobilise the community to support and advocate our clear stand against drug abuse. Our top priority must be to protect and save our youths from drugs, and quickly and decisively correct any misperceptions on drugs. We must reach out to youths and help them understand that “soft drugs” do not exist and that drug use is never one-off. CNB officers know, first hand, the misery and tragedies that drug abusers and their families experience. Hence, all of you here can share this message and stories with great credibility and conviction.
- PDE is not new to CNB. For many years now, CNB has been reaching out to primary and secondary schools. Those outreach efforts have been good, but we need to expand our PDE efforts to students in ITE, polytechnics and universities, as well as to NSFs. We have to regularly review the PDE content to ensure it remains relevant and engaging, and to find new and effective ways to reach out to youths. The issue of drug abuse by itself may be unfamiliar or seem irrelevant to youths, as not many will encounter such issues in their daily lives. The challenge is to overcome youths’ apathy towards anti-drug messages.
We will also need to broaden our PDE outreach to parents, educators, and school counsellors to raise their awareness of the symptoms and risks of drug abuse. They are our valuable PDE partners. Effective early intervention is possible only when we work together with them to detect and discourage drug abuse.
- On enforcement efforts, we must continue to be on top of emerging drug trends. I am glad that CNB has kept a close watch on music events, following the deaths of several youths and young adults from suspected drug overdose at such concerts in the region last year. Another trend that we should continue to monitor is that of youths experimenting with drugs when they are overseas, as they think they are beyond the reach of our laws. CNB performs checks at our various checkpoints, including the airport, and has taken action against individuals found to have consumed drugs overseas. We will work with the Institutes of Higher Learning to remind our youths when they go overseas for exchange programmes or overseas study trips, not to experiment with drugs and to say no to drugs.
- We will also ensure that our laws remain relevant to deal with the evolving drug threat. New Psychoactive Substances (NPS) are difficult to regulate as new varieties are constantly being created to circumvent laws.
In 2014, CNB classified 10 groups of NPS as well as 39 individual NPS as Class A controlled drugs, alongside heroin and cannabis. This means that the trafficking, possession or consumption of these NPS is illegal. On 1 May, CNB classified 14 more NPS as controlled drugs, as well as temporarily restricted the circulation of 18 other NPS.
- One of these 18 NPS, also known as “Spice”, has been linked to several deaths in the United States. We need to ensure that such substances are not circulated in Singapore and keep the NPS situation in Singapore under control. The hundreds of varieties of these NPS, with new formulations every month, mean that we must always be on the lookout for new variations of drugs.
- On the engagement front, we need to engage and work with like-minded partners, both foreign and local, who share our concerns about drugs. This is especially so given the robust debate expected on drug control policies at the upcoming UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in 2016. The 36th meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters, which Singapore is hosting in August this year, will be a good platform for us to strengthen our united ASEAN voice against drugs.
- Also in August, the National Council Against Drug Abuse will be organising the inaugural Asia-Pacific Forum Against Drugs. The forum will be a useful platform for Singapore to engage like-minded NGOs and government agencies, and exchange ideas in dealing with the scourge of drugs.
Strengthening the CNB Core
- . For CNB to perform all these roles effectively – in education, enforcement and engagement – CNB has to continually strengthen its core. Even with the increase in resources that will be made available to MHA, CNB needs to continue to develop its officers to their fullest, use technology and systems effectively and take community partnerships to the next level.
- First, CNB officers must be well-rounded and versatile. Officers have to be able to perform a variety of roles, work effectively with other Home Team Departments and with their overseas counterparts. This will also put them in a good position to counter the rapidly evolving modus operandi of drug abusers and traffickers.
- Next, CNB must leverage technology to do the things that technology does better so that our officers can be deployed in areas where their instincts and judgement are critical.
For example, once CNB fully implements the application of Business Analytics to manage drug supervisees, it will be able to design and calibrate supervision cycles for abusers based on risk profiles, rather than on drug antecedents alone. This allows CNB officers to focus their attention on higher-risk supervisees. Supervisees are also incentivised to abide by their regimes and work towards reducing their reporting frequency. The same benefits also apply when CNB emplaces more low-risk supervisees on the hair supervision scheme, which has a lower reporting frequency than urine supervision. This is possible now that CNB have developed hair analysis protocols for drugs other than opiates, including methamphetamine, cannabis, and ketamine. Overall, these changes enhance our productivity, without compromising our effectiveness.
- Finally, we must take community partnerships to the next level. DPM Teo and I both spoke about this during the recent Committee of Supply debates. Tackling drugs is a job that we cannot do alone. We believe that people are innately willing to help others and do their part for the community. Hence, CNB must find ways to enable and link our community partners up to strengthen support for the work that CNB does and amplify our PDE footprint. One example was CNB’s collaboration with Nanyang Polytechnic to organise the Singapore Games Creation Competition 2014 based on an anti-drug theme. The top entries have been uploaded on the competition website and CNB is exploring bringing some of them, which are designed by youths, for youths, to the mobile platform for greater outreach.
- Ladies and Gentlemen, in March, we went through a period of National Mourning following Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s passing. I thank all CNB officers who took part, in one way or another, in the events of that week. As you carry out your duties as CNB officers, remember that your vision of a drug-free Singapore is critical to our broader MHA vision of keeping Singapore safe and secure. This is an important foundation on which Mr Lee built our nation. Just as Mr Lee and our pioneer generation of leaders constantly planned ahead for the future, we need to stay vigilant and be alert to changes in drug trends. CNB’s efforts have kept our streets largely free from drugs and our children safe from drugs. Let us keep it that way, through upstream education, effective enforcement, and engagement of strategic partners.
- I look forward to continue working with all of you as we strive to make Singapore a drug-free society. I wish all of you a fruitful workplan seminar ahead. Thank you.
SPEECH BY MR NG SER SONG, DIRECTOR CNB, FOR CNB WORKPLAN SEMINAR 2015, AT POLICE CANTONMENT COMPLEX, 4 MAY 2015 (MONDAY) AT 10.00AM
Mr Masagos Zulkifli,
Minister, Prime Minister’s Office
Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs
Distinguished guests, Home Team colleagues and fellow officers
Good morning and welcome to CNB’s Workplan Seminar 2015. I thank you all for gracing this event.
Looking back on 2014 – Key Achievements
- In 2014, CNB has maintained the intensity of our enforcement efforts. We arrested 3,085 drug abusers, conducted 52 major operations, including 20 island-wide operations, taking out 21 drug syndicates. 108 joint sectoral operations were conducted with Police land divisions and 1,747 joint operations with ICA. On the last day of 2014, with ICA’s help, we managed to seize nearly 9.3kg of heroin at Woodlands Checkpoint, the largest haul uncovered in 2014.
- In February this year, we arrested a Singapore drug syndicate leader in Johor Bahru. The syndicate was responsible for supplying about 4.5kg of heroin, 500g of Ice and 1kg of cannabis per week to local drug traffickers. We have worked over a two years period, with Narcotics Crime Investigation Department (NCID) of the Royal Malaysian Police, to build up the case. The success of this prolonged operation was not measured only by the magnitude of the disrupted drug operations, but also the resources and confidentiality that both agencies have committed to in building up the case. It shows the close cooperation between NCID and CNB in tackling cross-border drug syndicates.
CNB’s Operating Environment and Challenges
- As the case shows, drug trafficking activities are transnational in nature. Singapore is also not a drug-producing country and our supply of drugs come from overseas.
- The regional drug situation is worsening. Opium poppy cultivation in Myanmar and Laos rose last year. More drug manufacturing and processing labs have appeared in the region. Syndicates also continue to target countries in the region as destination and transit countries. The unfavourable regional drug situation will likely increase the potential spill-over supply of drugs into Singapore, which poses a significant threat to us.
- On the demand side, two-thirds of the new abusers arrested last year are below the age of 30. The educational profile of abusers arrested is also changing, with more from institutions of higher learning.
CNB’s New Vision and Mission Statements
- The environment that we operate in has become, and will continue to be more complex and challenging. As our operating environment evolves, we must respond strategically. Even more critical, we need to invest in the future to prepare us for what lies ahead. To this end, the Bureau has involved our CNB officers in a re-visioning exercise last year to co-create a Vision and Mission, one which officers could identify with in light of the many developments over the past decade. Through the many conversations that we have had over the past year, officers have expressed strong support for CNB’s mandate to keep Singapore drug-free. The Bureau’s values of professionalism, integrity, dedication and courage continue to resonate strongly with our officers.
- Today, we unveil our new Vision and Mission statements. These statements underscore every CNB officer’s commitment to build a drug-free Singapore.
- Our new Vision “A Singapore without drugs, where everyone can live, work and play safely”. To this end, the greater outcome that we hope to achieve would be to create a safe and secure home for Singaporeans where drugs would not be easily available, and where their sense of safety and security would not be threatened by the presence of drug abusers and pushers in the streets.
- On this note, I would like to share a quote from the Enforcement Divisional Planning Seminar (DPS) by our officers – “If we were to realise this dream, we are making great progress for the society as a whole. Even if it feels impossible, that is the right direction CNB should be heading.” Indeed, our new Vision statement is more than just a strong mandate; it is an ambitious and noble calling that I hope all of us will meet with gusto and work towards achieving that greater goal together.
- We have traditionally been focused on vigorous and tough enforcement against drug offenders. I was heartened to hear from many officers during the re-visioning exercise that we should take on a more proactive role in engaging our strategic partners - To do more in preventive education and to maintain the international space on our zero-tolerance against drugs.
- Our new Mission is “To Enforce, Educate and Engage, for a drug free Singapore”. The new mission statement represents CNB’s twin strategies of demand and supply reduction in three areas - Enforcement, Education and Engagement. Let me elaborate further on these areas.
- As a law enforcement agency, rigorous anti-drug enforcement continues to be a key focus of our work. While we enforce through the use of intelligence, operations and investigations, the development of robust laws and policies to guide enforcement are equally important. One key aspect of effective enforcement is the forging of close collaborations with our Home Team, local and international partners to keep drugs off Singapore streets.
- Preventing the abuse of drugs is another key aspect of CNB’s work. As Minister Masagos has highlighted earlier, preventive education will be the cornerstone to curtail the next generation of drug abusers. We will need preventive education to inform the community on the harms of drugs and strengthen the resilience of our youths to stay away from drugs.
- It is important for us to press on with our enforcement efforts, as well as continue to communicate our anti-drug messages clearly and in an engaging manner that resonates with youths. To arm them with facts is a means to protect our youths from drugs.
- This brings me to the third part of our Mission – the importance of active engagement, both with our local and with our international partners, to create a Singapore without drugs.
- To reach out to the local community on drug matters, we leverage on Police community engagement platforms. For example, our officers from Enforcement F Division work closely with its Police counterparts to reach out to the Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC) Chairman twice a year, to update them on the latest drug trends and foster closer relationship with the grassroots leaders. Enforcement G Division also works with Police D Division in the "We STRIVE" programme which aims to address youth delinquency. We have also leveraged on the Police-CNB-Schools-MSF (PCSM) Liaison Framework to work with key partners in the outreach to at-risk youths and students.
- To make PDE activities more appealing to our young target audience, we have been collaborating with students from Singapore Polytechnic since 2011 to conceptualise and organise outreach activities to commemorate the World Drug Day.
- On the international front, as Second Minister Masagos has highlighted earlier, we need to garner the support of other jurisdictions who share our zero-tolerance stance, through international meetings and bilateral exchanges. We should engage them now, to fight back against the global wave of liberal attitudes towards drug taking.
Living out the CNB Values
- I have shared the challenges that the Bureau will face in the future. It is during these times of uncertainty and change that we should re-examine our core values. These values will serve as critical anchors to guide our actions as individuals, shape our corporate instincts and motivate and inspire us towards our Vision. Our values are the glue that binds us together, not just in what we do, but how we go about doing it as a Bureau.
- The current set of CNB Values was developed back in 2001 but they are as relevant today as when they were first introduced. For operations, we need courageous and dedicated officers who are equipped to respond to any situation professionally. In crafting policies, we need knowledgeable and professional officers who are able to weigh the tradeoffs of our policies and the impact on Singaporeans, before making the best recommendation for our anti-drug policies. In preparing for the future, we need innovative officers to develop planning capabilities and harness the use of technology and science. Regardless of our job functions, every one of us should strive to live out our Values when carrying out our duties.
Tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew
- As we look towards the future, we have to remember lessons from the past and remain steadfast to our convictions. The efforts of our founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his pioneer team did not come about by chance. Singapore’s success was achieved through careful planning and execution by our pioneer leaders, underpinned by values of incorruptibility, integrity, and the resolve to stand by the fundamentals of law and order. These ultimately led to the safe and secure Singapore that we all enjoy and live in today.
- During the period of National Mourning, I have witnessed how CNB and fellow Home Team officers were undeterred by the adverse conditions around us. From queuing up under the hot sun to pay respects to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew Lying in State, to lining the route outside Police Cantonment Complex in the rain as the funeral procession passed, our officers have maintained an image of professionalism. Our officers also helped to maintain law and order during the lining of street. Despite the additional responsibilities, we did not let up on our efforts to keep Singapore free from drugs. I would like to take this opportunity to thank officers for the dedication and service rendered during this challenging period.
- I hope that we will maintain this spirit of perseverance as we work towards our Vision of a drug-free Singapore. Our achievements today did not occur by chance. We have come so far because officers past and present were committed to the mandate to keep Singapore drug-free. They have worked tirelessly to eradicate rampant drug crime right from the start.
- Let us hold on to our values, remain committed to our Mission, and strive to keep Singapore drug-free for our loved ones, our children, and our future generations. To my officers, I urge all of you to continue to do your good work to build a strong CNB Core that will propel us forward as one to keep Singapore drug-free.
- On this note, I want to thank our guests for taking the time to be here with us today and I look forward to a fruitful discussion with officers later.
Figure 2 – 2Min Masagos Zulkifli (Home Affairs) delivering a speech at the CNB Workplan Seminar 2015. Credit: Home Team News