Changes to Misuse of Drugs Act trigger old debate

Some say removing jail term for repeat offenders overdue, others worry deterrent effect is reduced

Counsellor Janet Wee says that the Government has to continue to send a strong message that "if you continue doing drugs, we will still come after you". For Mr Sivabalan Jayakodi, who has been drug-free for almost six years, staying clean is an every
For Mr Sivabalan Jayakodi, who has been drug-free for almost six years, staying clean is an everyday struggle. Now a project coordinator at The Helping Hand, he credits his transformation to the halfway house and his Christian faith. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Counsellor Janet Wee says that the Government has to continue to send a strong message that "if you continue doing drugs, we will still come after you". For Mr Sivabalan Jayakodi, who has been drug-free for almost six years, staying clean is an every
Counsellor Janet Wee says that the Government has to continue to send a strong message that "if you continue doing drugs, we will still come after you". ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
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Caught and convicted the third time for abusing drugs in 2012, Mr Sivabalan Jayakodi, 48, was given a mandatory sentence of five years in jail and three strokes of the cane.

He believes his jail time took a toll on his family relationships: His wife divorced him, and the rest of his family, including his mother, brother and daughter, who was 12 years old then, gave up hope on him.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 26, 2018, with the headline Changes to Misuse of Drugs Act trigger old debate. Subscribe