Keeping Singapore drug-free

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From left: Dion Lee, Darren Goh and Samuel Ang are firm believers in the importance of staying drug-free.

Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB)’s Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign recognises the devastating impact of drugs on abusers and their loved ones, and aims to garner public support for a drug-free lifestyle. We ask two CNB staff and one Singapore Civil Defence Force NSF why staying drug-free is important to them.

TEXT: MELODY TAN

PHOTOS: HOMETEAMNS

While the number of drug abusers arrested in Singapore declined by 11 per cent last year, there is a worrying trend: Some 34 per cent of the 2,724 arrested were new drug abusers – and 60 per cent of these new abusers were under 30 years of age.

Given the high proportion of younger abusers, it is important to raise awareness of the harmful effects of drugs such as methamphetamine, heroin and cannabis, which are most commonly abused in Singapore. These drugs not only harm the health and well-being of the abusers, but they also damage the lives of their families, friends and the community at large.

This year’s Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) aims to build continued support for a drug-free Singapore, with a DrugFreeSG Light-Up on Sunday, 26 June between 7.30pm to 12 midnight.

Held since 2018, the light-up will see Singapore’s most iconic buildings lit up in the green and white, colours of the anti-drug ribbon, to symbolise Singapore’s support for the drug-free cause and commemorate the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking – known as ‘World Drug Day’ – which falls on 26 June. This year, the light-up is paired with the DrugFreeSG Pop-Up at Suntec City Tower 3 East Atrium, between 26 June and 3 July.

Said Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development, and President of HomeTeamNS, in a video produced by CNB in support of the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign: “26 June marks the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. This global observance aims to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs cause to society and serves as a reminder for all of us not to take our relatively drug-free environment here in Singapore for granted.”

AVOIDING THE TRAP OF DRUGS

Mr Samuel Ang Wei Jie is an administrative officer in the Department Technology Office in CNB. He provides an essential service to the functioning of the organisation by handling the on and off-boarding of CNB officers’ accounts.

Having worked as a community engagement officer in the Singapore Police Force (SPF) during his full-time National Service (NS) stint, Mr Ang was eager to join CNB due to the familiarity of its structure.

In addition, CNB’s work resonates with him as he is adamant about staying drug-free. “Since I was young, schools have been emphasising the need to stay drug-free,” says Samuel. “I keep myself away from drugs because I know the heavy consequences that come with them.”

In his view, having the right people around you are just as important as one’s personal resolve, when it comes to steering clear of drugs. “I think many people do drugs when they’re seeking attention or are being influenced by a bad social circle. I would tell them: ‘Don’t fall for the trap – your life is your own, not anyone else’s.”

EARLY PREVENTION FIGHTS ADDICTION

As an NSF Provost in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), SGT1 Darren Goh helps to enforce discipline and assists in running the rehabilitation and regime programmes in the detention barracks.

Having been recognised as an outstanding Provost and an exemplary role model, SGT1 Darren lives out his high professional standards  through his personal life as he takes a resolute stand against drugs.

“Drug abuse causes the abuser to become overwhelmed daily by the temptation of drugs, to the point where he or she is unable to carry out routine tasks such as working or studying. The abuser will be less likely to care or consider the feelings of others. That is why drug abuse can ruin the lives of a lot of people.”

SGT1 Darren believes that drug prevention is the way to go, so that people do not become addicted in the first place. “It is important that people – especially those who are young – stay away from drugs, including things like cough syrup which can be easily purchased. One quote I would like to share with them is this: ‘Work hard to soar high, don’t do drugs to get by.’”

WORKING TO SUPPORT THE DRUG-FREE CAUSE

CNB Community Partnership intern, Dion Lee, hopes to one day join the organisation as a regular officer. The former Ground Response Force NSF officer with the SPF responded to several drug-related incidents that made an impact on him and fuelled his determination to stay drug-free.

Recalling an incident where a man was found lying on the ground, Mr Lee says that he and his partner soon discovered that the man had no pulse and was not breathing.

“It was determined later by a pathologist that the person had passed on due to a drug overdose,” he recounts. “When I conducted a search on him, I found a picture of him and his mother. My heart sank and I thought to myself, how would his mother feel if we were to break the news to her? That is when I realised that drugs do not just affect the abusers, but those around them as well.”

When studying at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, Mr Lee volunteered as an A3 (Anti-Drug Abuse Advocacy) advocate, disseminating anti-drug messages within his circle of friends. “I tapped on what I learnt in school and my previous internships to help create awareness of the drug-free cause and make a positive impact in the community. I believe for every person we reached out to, another person is impacted – and he or she can help in promulgating anti-drug messages too.”

Mr Lee, who is currently tasked with helping to plan the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign, says that the social evil of drugs is something that Singaporeans should not disregard. “I believe everyone has a part to play in keeping Singapore drug-free, and it all starts with me and you!” 

Visit the CNB website to learn more about the DrugFreeSG Light-Up on 26 June, and the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign.

As part of this year’s Drug Free SG campaign, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) is collaborating with HomeTeamNS to educate and encourage members to stay clear of drugs.

Members and visitors at all HomeTeamNS Clubhouses are invited to fold green and white Anti-Drug Ribbons to show support for a drug-free Singapore. The activities take place over the following dates:

  • 19 June to 2 July 2022: HomeTeamNS-JOM Balestier
  • 1 to 30 June 2022: HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok
  • 12 to 26 June 2022: HomeTeamNS Khatib
  • 6 to 26 June 2022: HomeTeamNS Tampines

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