Drug abuse is not victimless: K Shanmugam 

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam (left), with Ministers of State Alvin Tan (right) and Gan Siow Huang (back), looking at digital candles at the Drug Victims Remembrance Day on May 17.

Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam has stressed that drug abuse is not victimless, not only do drug abusers and their families suffer, but the community also suffers.  

In his speech at the inaugural Drug Victims Remembrance Day observance ceremony held at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza on May 17, Mr Shanmugam said that drug abusers become victims themselves as their physical and mental health suffer because of addiction.  

The loved ones of abusers also suffer silently and invisibly as they take on the burden of caring for the abuser, and at times for the neglected children and dependents, he added.  

“They also shoulder the emotional, the financial, and the physical fallout, as a result of the addiction of a member of the family.”  

Mr Shanmugam noted that the community at large also suffers. They could be the target of crimes because people need to commit crimes to feed their habit. They could be the target of violence that drug abusers often exhibit when they are under the influence of drugs.  

“Even if you don’t come into contact (with drug abusers), you are also a victim because drug abusers and drug abuse increase healthcare costs, and everybody pays for that.” 

Mr Shanmugam said the event aims to showcase the harms caused by drugs and bring the issue to the forefront of society’s consciousness. 

He praised those who have overcome drug abuse for their efforts and struggles in beating their addiction. 

During the ceremony, Mr Shanmugam led the invited guests in lighting (LED) candles against a wall and observing a minute of silence to remember the lives lost to drug abuse. 

Each candle represented 1,000 lives lost. According to the World Health Organisation, 600,000 people died worldwide in 2019 because of drug abuse. 

Exhibition will visit eight heartland locations over next eight weeks 

Bags of cannabis, locked in ventilated containers guarded by Central Narcotics Bureau officers, were displayed for visitors to identify and sniff the contents.   

The event featured an immersive exhibition where visitors saw a life-size mock-up of a home that depicted a family struggling with drug abuse through items strewn on the floor and furniture. 

There was a sensory drug exhibit showcasing ways to identify different drugs and combat evolving hiding methods. Visitors could smell real cannabis packages on-site. 

Digital storyboards also told real stories of the toll of drug use drawn from news reports and Central Narcotics Bureau case files. 

From May 24 to July 21, a smaller version of the exhibition will visit eight heartland locations around Singapore. 

Drug Victims Remembrance Day will be observed on the third Friday of May each year. 

Sources of images: The Straits Times© Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.