The Straits Times says

Stay alert to softening views on drugs

It is a reassurance but also a matter of some concern that overall public support for Singapore's anti-drug policies remains strong - although young people generally hold more liberal views on drugs, particularly cannabis. These are findings from a nationwide survey commissioned by the Ministry of Home Affairs last year which involved face-to-face interviews with 2,000 Singapore residents aged 13 to 75. Close to 98 per cent of respondents agreed that Singapore should continue to have tough laws against drugs and that drug consumption should remain illegal. About 90 per cent felt that the country's drug laws were effective in keeping it relatively drug-free. Around 93 per cent agreed that Singapore's drug-free environment made them feel safe. More than 97 per cent acknowledged the harm wrought by drugs on the abuser, his family and society.

The survey results reinforce the idea that Singaporeans have developed a reflexive aversion to the role that drugs can play in the destruction of society. In countries such as Colombia, drug barons such as the infamous Pablo Escobar once created transnational criminal empires that were powerful enough to test the law-enforcement capabilities of even the United States. Within such countries, drug lords ruled states within states, centres of parallel authority to which people bowed out of fear and greed. Drug trafficking, organised like a multinational business enterprise, spawned a network of coercion that came to be called narco-terrorism. Like Latin America, South-east Asia was once very much a part of a universe of addiction and criminality that paralysed individuals economically and destroyed constructive social interactions.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2019, with the headline 'Stay alert to softening views on drugs'. Print Edition | Subscribe