SINGAPORE: To address the public health impact of drugs, Singapore employs a three-pronged “harm prevention” strategy, said Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development Desmond Lee on Monday (Mar 13).
Speaking in Vienna, Austria at the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), Mr Lee said the strategy addresses law and order issues and social problems as well.
Outlining the three prongs, Mr Lee said it begins with public education where parents, educators and the wider community are part of creating an environment where "drugs have no place in our lives".
The second prong of the strategy comprises "tough laws and robust enforcement". "Criminal syndicates think twice before trying to bring drugs into or through Singapore because they know that law enforcement is actively seeking them out, in cooperation with international counterparts. And our laws are tough, swift and uncompromising against those who attempt to peddle death to our people," Mr Lee said.
The third part of the strategy is a "structured and evidence-based rehabilitation framework".
"We seek to help drug abusers kick the habit, and regain control of their lives," Mr Lee said. "We equip drug abusers with skills to overcome their own addiction and tailor support programmes to help them stay clean and reintegrate back into society ... Their complete recovery is our goal, and we aim to drive drug recidivism rates down as far as we can."
Mr Lee added that these are all crucial elements in building a drug-free society. "It is hard and it will get harder. But our people have a right to a safe environment," he said.
Concluding his speech, Mr Lee also urged delegates to affirm or reaffirm a joint commitment to address and counter the world drug problem.
This is the first UNCND after the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem held in 2016. At the 60th UNCND, Singapore also held an exhibition showcasing the country's drug prevention initiatives and efforts.