No question that drug trafficking has real impact

I WONDER how Mr Terence Lim ("Callous stance on drug traffickers unfair"; May 5) concluded that the number of people affected by drug trafficking remains only as potentialities.

A United Nations report stated that the global market for illegal drugs is worth about US$300 billion (S$403 billion).

Last year, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) seized illegal drugs with an estimated market value of $8.17 million.

A total of 3,158 drug abusers were arrested, of which 1,093 were new users. Strikingly, 190 abusers were below 20 years of age, while 1,605 were between the ages of 20 and 39.

These people are in their prime and could be contributing meaningfully to society and their families but instead, chose the path of addiction, which damages their health, mind and future.

Singapore's strict penalties for drug offences are not about questions of inhumanity or fairness. It is a question of whether it is necessary to keep our streets safe from drugs.

It is also incorrect to say that Singapore executes drug offenders for a possible crime in the future.

Parliament has passed a law to allow discretionary sentencing if the drug trafficker cooperates with the CNB to help locate a kingpin. Instead of the death penalty, the trafficker's sentence may be commuted to life imprisonment and caning.

In this way, uneducated and impoverished people who are exploited by drug barons are given a second chance.

Deterrence is not a slippery slope.

Rather, it is a sign of society's disapproval of the potential harm that could be caused. It focuses on the nature of the act and the knock-on effects on innocent victims.

The war on illegal drugs is neverending. Drug addicts destroy their lives and futures, leaving their families destitute and in despair.

The discretionary death penalty, together with a multi-pronged approach in our anti-drug regime, serves Singapore well while not weakening the fabric of our society.

Doing away with it completely would send the wrong signal to drug traffickers, and could tempt more people to smuggle drugs into Singapore.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2015, with the headline ''. Print Edition | Subscribe