Drug Victims Remembrance Day begins next Friday

09/05/2024

A NEW way to remind all Singaporeans about the harm that the families and loved ones of drug abusers suffer is coming. Drug Victims Remembrance Day now happens every third Friday in May.

Its first observance is next weekend (May 17-19) at the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza. 

“We will be holding a candlelight display to remember the victims of drug abuse …the elderly mother and grandmother brutally murdered by their loved one, the two-year old toddler who was senselessly assaulted to death by her own guardian, and the countless family members whose lives have been upended by having a loved one going to drugs. These are the people who deserve our sympathy,” said Minister for Home Affairs K Shanmugam to Parliament this afternoon (May 8).

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Source: MCI / YouTube 

Minister Shanmugam’s statement came not long after Parliament applauded rows of ex-abusers and their families watching in the Public Gallery. “They are testament to the fact that it is possible to quit drugs and to live a fulfilling life thereafter,” said Minister Shanmugam. 

Public exhibitions about local and global drug issues will follow at eight locations across Singapore this May to July. Students will also mark Remembrance Day with activities like special assemblies and entering an essay competition about the impact of drug abuse. 

“These are lives — of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters”

Remembrance Day comes from the PAP Government taking stock of the worldwide and Singapore’s own drug situation. 

Briefly, drugs remain a problem — and bring in other ones like violence, gangs and murder — no matter whether in Latin America, Europe or North America. In particular, the American state of Oregon liberalised drug laws, doubling the drug overdose death rate from 610 to 1,364 between 2019 and 2022. Streets there became unsafe, businesses left — and now the state government has recriminalised drug possession in an about-turn from their ruinous social justice experiment.

As for Singapore, the nation’s drug abuse rehabilitation programme, as well as the zero tolerance and death penalty for drug trafficking continue to keep the drug problem low. The two-year recidivism rate fell from 73 per cent in 1993 to 27.7 in 2021 and while Singapore is just next to the Golden Triangle, a region “literally swimming in meth” reports the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime.

Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, MCI / YouTube 

“We are fighting a war against drugs and I’m using that analogy because that is the scale in terms of victims and lost lives,” said Minister Shanmugam. 

“The World Drug Report estimates that in the same year, 31 million years of ‘healthy’ life was lost due to disability and premature deaths as a result of drug abuse. These are not just statistics. These are lives — of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters,” he added. 

In contrast, Singapore upholding the death penalty for drug traffickers keeps Singaporean lives secure; a massive 87 per cent of people from regional cities see that this penalty makes people not want to traffic large amounts of drugs here. 

Minister Shanmugam noted too that the Post-appeal Applications in Capital Cases (PACC) Act will soon come into force. This Act prevents guilty parties and a small minority of anti-death penalty activists from abusing the legal system with unmeritorious and repeated attempts to delay sentencing.    

“If you face financial difficulties, if you need money, get a job. You don’t have to traffic drugs to make money,” said Minister Shanmugam. 

Inheriting a drug-free Singapore

Source: MCI / YouTube 

Our PAP MPs sought clarity from Minister Shanmugam on the Government’s plans. 

 “How do we make sure that our children from Gen Z and Gen Alpha would internalise our strong anti-drugs policy?” asked MP Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok SMC). 

“Preventive drug education. It’s a broad title, but CNB [Central Narcotics Bureau] and MHA [Ministry of Home Affairs] are trying many different things now to try and get the message across. Even better, even clearly, and to more people,” said Minister Shanmugam. “And I’m hoping that our initiative, Drug Victims Remembrance Day, would help.” 

As for MP Vikram Nair’s (Sembawang GRC) question about public awareness of gateway drugs, Minister Shanmugam said that the Ministry of Health would respond regarding their steps. 

Minister Shanmugam also responded to the Leader of the Opposition, MP Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC) question about why CNB has recently seized exponentially more psychoactive substances. 

“The answer is actually quite simple: They weren’t available previously,” said Minister Shanmugam. “Now, you can alter chemical properties and create drugs fairly easily, and they become easily available. And every time you identify a compound, someone else can very quickly alter one or two chemical properties and come out with a technically different compound but with the same impact as the original compound. So it’s a continuous chase. And you have to continuously deal with it.” 

It is a proven fact that the PAP’s Government’s strong anti-drug stance has kept Singapore strong and safe over the decades; our Party takes its responsibilities to Singaporeans very seriously. Capital punishment, behavioural rehabilitation, the PACC Act and public education initiatives like Drug Victims Remembrance Day will do their part together now. They are here so that future generations of Singaporeans will inherit a drug-free country.