Celebrating 50 Years of the Anti-Drug Movement in Singapore
As we celebrate SG50, let’s give thanks. Our children can grow up in Singapore, safe from the clutches of drug traffickers. This is a hard won situation. As we live the next 50 years, our youths must not forget the sacrifices of our Pioneer Generation in the anti-drug movement. We salute our frontline anti-narcotics officers, backed by strong government, committed community partners and sound anti-drug laws.
We must defend and uphold Singapore’s zero tolerance approach against drug abuse. We want a society free from drug abuse, especially for our children. We strongly reject drug abuse and its harmful effects. We will act firmly against those who aim to profit from drug abusers. We will rehabilitate drug abusers and act firmly to deter repeat abusers. We will harness community support to stay vigilant against drug abuse.
Vigilance Against External Threats
Each year on 26 June, we commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, also known as World Drug Day. It is timely to remind Singaporeans about the external drug threats.
Global Drug Problem
First, the drug problem is global. Unlike Singapore, some countries struggle with leadership and governance in the fight against drug abuse. Unable to control the drug situation, they focus on reducing the harms from drug addiction through drug substitution or needle exchange programmes. Some countries spend billions on drug substitution only to see drugs deaths rising. In Singapore, we saw for a brief period, how subutex was used to treat heroin addicts. The number of heroin addicts appeared to fall, but in fact, more became addicted to subutex.
Singapore believes in harm prevention, and therefore, takes a zero tolerance approach against drugs. This has worked well for us. Our children can grow up in a relatively drug-free Singapore. Unfortunately, “harm reduction” has undermined society’s stance against drug abuse, and pop culture has increased society’s appetite for drugs, especially among the young. The world drug market is targeting our children as its customers. With easy travel and online influence, the minds of our young may be swayed first by pro-drug propaganda, tolerance of drugs thereafter, and ultimately, by drug abuse itself. With our drug situation under control, every Singaporean has a stake in this anti-drug cause to be aware of the global trends that threaten to undermine our children’s future.
Second, the pro-drug lobby is gaining momentum. Harm reduction has paved the way for proponents of decriminalization where penalties for drug abuse are rolled back. The final goal will be liberalization where there are no penalties whatsoever for drug abuse. This is already happening in some countries, starting with cannabis. In Singapore, we are starting to see a trend of cannabis abusers who are younger and from affluent backgrounds.
Obsessive and profit-driven pro-drugs lobbies have lined up celebrities and headline entrepreneurs to promote drugs, with well-orchestrated public relations and online campaigns. They exaggerate claims and couch politically correct arguments that the ‘war on drugs’ has failed and that drug addiction is an illness. Why? They want to lobby for drugs to be decriminalised or worse, be legalised. The motive is money.
Rallying the Anti-Drug Movement
The National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) is honoured to have participated in the Drug Task Force. Co-chaired by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Second Minister for Home Affairs and Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State for Education, the Task Force focused on tackling the problem of young drug abusers.
Recognising that the drug problem is global and that the pro-drug lobby needs to be countered, NCADA is inviting like-minded civil society organisations and government agencies to the inaugural Asia Pacific Forum Against Drugs (APFAD) in August 2015. NCADA hopes that APFAD participants will return home and rally local support for the anti-drug movement. This is critical as nations gear up for the coming UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) in 2016 where the global legal conventions on drugs will be reviewed. The anti-drug movement must make its voice heard, supported by people united across the globe, to counter the pro-drug lobby.
A Drug Free Society for Our Children
If we do not rally the anti-drug movement, we will be overtaken by global trends and the pro-drug lobby. However good our domestic drug situation, it is on borrowed time unless we make a firm stand as responsible members of society.
If we are bystanders, the consequences will be disastrous. The enormous profits from marketing and selling of drugs to our children will be an onslaught if we act too late.
Already, in countries where drugs have been decriminalised or legalised, much money has been spent to promote drugs in the form of candy, cakes and ice cream – clearly targeted at children and youth. It is a matter of time before social resistance against drugs becomes another endangered species.
Let us stop to think how we would feel if our children could buy cannabis candy or ice cream at a local shop or if our children’s teachers are drug abusers. When confronted with such scenarios, many who argued in favour of the pro-drug lobby had to pause. It never hits home until your own home is hit.
I have met former drug abusers. They became drug-free after rehabilitation. The so-called friends who first enticed them into the evil trap said drugs were not addictive. These were lies. Former drug abusers can tell us honestly - drugs are harmful and addictive. They just could not escape.
Now that they have, they regret their past, but value their future even more.
Now that they know, they tell me to keep children away from drugs.
They should know better than I.
Help us build a drug free society for your children.
Participate in the Anti-Drug Movement
Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival
We invite Singaporeans to visit the two-day Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival on Friday, 26 June 2015 and Saturday, 27 June 2015 at Suntec Singapore Hall 403. The theme is “Community Togetherness” and signifies the strong support for the anti-drug cause through various collaborations with the schools and the community. View the photograph exhibition to commemorate 20 years of the anti-drug movement in Singapore. Enjoy carnival-type games infused with anti-drug messages. Visitors can customize tote bags and craft handphone charms for themselves. Admission is free.
Social Pledge Wall
NCADA invites Singaporeans to support a drug-free Singapore by posting an anti-drug pledge at the ADAC Carnival or at http://bit.ly/1Fi2Tx8 on the “Life Does Not Rewind” Facebook page. These pledges will be broadcast live at the social media wall of the Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival.
Singaporeans are also invited to the 17th edition of DanceWorks! 2015 Finals at 3pm on Friday, 26 June 2015 in the Suntec Singapore Hall 403. The theme for this year’s competition is “Dance for a Drug-Free Singapore”. 338 participants from 36 teams (from 25 schools/organisations) will be competing this year. Admission is free.
Victor Lye, PBM
National Council Against Drug Abuse
26 June 2015