Yaacob: Youth can help peers keep off drugs

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim would like to see more young people reaching out to their peers to ensure they do not abuse drugs.

Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the People's Association Silver WaVe initiative yesterday, Dr Yaacob said he also welcomes the Malay-Muslim community's efforts to address the drug problem.

This comes after Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said at an annual seminar organised by the Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) on April 1 that about 53 per cent of drug abusers arrested last year were Malay, up from 32 per cent in 2006. The proportion of new Malay drug abusers has also gone up to 54 per cent last year, from 22 per cent in 2006.

Mr Shanmugam had also said that Malay-Muslim groups and the Government have to work together to tackle the problem.

Dr Yaacob said: "On the part of the community, we have to reach out to our young to make sure they understand that drugs are not the solution, there must be other things they can do as young people.

"I would like to see more, especially peer-to-peer (interaction) for young people to come out to reach out to their peers so that they can do something with them, get them active and make sure they don't get distracted into a life of drugs."

Several Malay-Muslim organisations have rolled out initiatives to tackle the drug problem in the past year.

For instance, last month AMP launched its new Development and Reintegration Programme. In the first phase, drug abusers go for 10 sessions covering topics on reflection, strengthening families, financial literacy, work-related skills and new beginnings. These are designed to complement the programmes that are offered by the Singapore Prison Service. The second and final phase focuses on the inmates and their family members after they are released from incarceration.

The Islamic Theological Association of Singapore launched The New Spice Up programme last year, which aims to help former abusers reconnect with their families and society through activities such as kayaking.

Dr Yaacob said: "When we do the outreach programmes, we basically send the message to the families that there are things they can do as parents, there are things they can do as families.

"We will leave the security part to the agencies."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 16, 2017, with the headline 'Yaacob: Youth can help peers keep off drugs'. Print Edition | Subscribe