Drug abusers: Rehab v long-term imprisonment

Tough law came amid rise in abusers

Long-term imprisonment came into law in 1998 to curb growing number of hardcore addicts who turned to crime to feed their habit

Inmates exercising at a drug rehabilitation centre in Upper Changi Road North. In 1990 the number of people in DRCs was 5,350. By 1994, it was 8,700, then Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng said in 1995. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
Inmates exercising at a drug rehabilitation centre in Upper Changi Road North. In 1990 the number of people in DRCs was 5,350. By 1994, it was 8,700, then Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng said in 1995. Inmates taking classes at the DRC in Upper Ch
Inmates taking classes at the DRC in Upper Changi Road North. Previously, only first-or second-time drug abusers were sent to DRCs. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
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The man who was deputy director of the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in the early years of the 1990s, Mr Masbollah Fazal, recalls that his agency took a two-pronged strategy to tackling drug misuse.

That was: To hit drug syndicates hard by arresting masterminds and working down the chain to detain traffickers; and to arrest addicts and send them to drug rehabilitation centres (DRCs).

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 03, 2019, with the headline Tough law came amid rise in abusers. Subscribe