There is a need to keep Singaporean society safe from the growing worldwide problem of New Psychoactive Substances (NPS).
NPS are dangerous synthetic drugs which mimic cocaine, heroin and cannabis and are very popular with local drug abusers and traffickers. The number of local NPS abusers increased a staggering 78 times from 2018 to 2022 (235 abusers caught yearly) compared to 2014-2017 (3 abusers caught yearly).
NPS have also caused at least four deaths locally.
Hence the PAP Government amending the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA) and the Constitution this previous month (Mar 21) in order to outlaw NPS, no matter what exactly goes into these drugs.
“This allows CNB to take enforcement action against potentially dangerous and potent NPS, and not have to wait until their molecular structure has been identified and listed in the MDA,” explained Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.
The PAP Government also strengthened the penalties for drug possession: a 30-year prison term and 15 strokes of the cane are now possible for those possessing large quantities of high-harm drugs like cocaine.
Together, these are timely interventions for protecting Singaporean homes and families from the scourge of drugs old and new.
An effective deterrent
They are also agile solutions.
The local significance of the amendments comes from how NPS constantly proliferate. There were 166 types in 2009 versus 1150 in 2022.
“The limitation of the current approach is that we will always be playing catch-up with the syndicates,” said MOS Faishal regarding the Government’s new legal approach, which focuses on the psychoactive effect of the NPS as opposed to their easily-modified structures.
“In fact, drug suppliers are known to tailor the molecular structure of NPS according to what is not yet controlled through legislation,” added the MOS.
Stricter penalties for drug possession is because drug syndicates now transact larger quantities of drugs. The new legislation accounts for the greater harm these larger quantities cause.
So the PAP Government’s new laws strategically close legal loopholes for drug traffickers and addicts.
Not on Singapore’s streets
All these top-level efforts are aimed at keeping Singapore’s streets and homes free from the destructive impact of drugs.
They are tough, as is the PAP Government’s overall stance on drugs. That is why they are effective.
Our rates of drug abuse are among the lowest in the world; where we had 30 opiates abusers per 100,000 people in 2016, America had 600.
Nor are drugs a public health emergency for Singapore as they are in drug-tolerant countries like America, Canada and Scotland. This despite our more difficult geographic location in South-East Asia which as The Economist unbiasedly states, is “awash in drugs” and despite liberal drug laws elsewhere.
The freedom to walk the streets at night safely and the lack of dangerous urban ghettos is frankly something we Singaporeans take for granted.
These new NPS amendments help further with that, as compared to how drugs contribute to urban problems elsewhere in the world.
“With continued support from Members in the House, our community partners, advocates, and members of the public, we will work towards maintaining a drug-free Singapore,” pledged MOS Faishal.
Singaporeans, after all, deserve a high level of trust in public safety. The PAP Government has carefully fostered this trust — and does not take it lightly.
Source: MCI, CNB, Singapore Police Force / Facebook