Smugglers of opium now take land route

Opium smugglers were pushing their goods into Singapore via land instead of the usual sea route, after naval security was tightened as a result of hostilities with Indonesia.

Details of the new smuggling mode were revealed in the 1964 annual report of the Customs and Excise Department presented to Parliament.

Opium was being brought into Singapore via motor vehicles with special compartments. Each vehicle carried a consignment of opium averaging 90kg. Several such vehicles were stopped in Malaysia before they could make their way to Singapore.

The amount of raw and prepared opium seized in Singapore in 1964 was 422kg, the smallest amount in many years.

PROBLEM OF UNLICENSED HAWKERS

This is an impossible situation which has gone on for far too long and should be stopped accordingly.

HEALTH MINISTER YONG NYUK LIN, on the fact that only 10,000 out of an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 hawkers here were licensed. He announced plans in Parliament in December 1965 to step up the monitoring of hawkers

The principal source of the opium was Thailand, with small quantities smuggled in from Burma and the Indian subcontinent.

Another trend that the report highlighted was the rising num-ber of morphine addicts, even as the number of opium users fell.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 20, 2015, with the headline 'Smugglers of opium now take land route'. Print Edition | Subscribe