Parliament: Increased social media presence, 'influencers' to spread anti-drug message among youth

Footballer Irfan Fandi as the new anti-drug advocate for the Central Narcotics Bureau.
Footballer Irfan Fandi as the new anti-drug advocate for the Central Narcotics Bureau. PHOTO: CNB

SINGAPORE - A new initiative to establish positive "influencers" among the youth is part of the Central Narcotics Bureau's (CNB) strategy to spread an anti-drug message.

Besides increasing the CNB's social media presence, Parliamentary Secretary Amrin Amin said on Friday (March 3) that students of the Institute of Technical Education, polytechnics and universities have signed up for the pilot of an Anti-Drug Advocate Programme.

They will learn about the harmful effects of drugs and Singapore's drug policies, visiting halfway houses and drug rehabilitation centres.

There, they will hear first-hand accounts from ex-abusers on how hard it is to kick the drug habit, he said.

CNB statistics showed that close to two-thirds of new drug abusers arrested last year were below the age of 30.

There were also more cases of students abusing drugs, said Mr Amrin, replying to a question from MP Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) about the drug situation.

On Friday, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam also stressed that the challenges of keeping Singapore drug-free are increasing.

He highlighted that there are growing threats from the region, more first-time young drug abusers, and said the problem is compounded by the rise in online drug peddling.

A 2014 study by the Task Force on Youths and Drugs found that most young cannabis abusers, for example, came from either middle or high socio-economic backgrounds, and many of them did well in school.

Other MPs, Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC) and Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera, asked about skills training for offenders during and after incarceration.

To which, Mr Amrin said that this year, the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score) will be starting Workforce Skills Qualifications advanced training for inmates when they are in jail.

He added that the prison service and Score work together with agencies such as Workforce Singapore to fund courses for inmates, who can also tap on their SkillsFuture credits during their stay at halfway houses after release from jail.