SINGAPORE - There is good and bad news on the drugs front for the Malay community.
The number of drug abusers who have relapsed after two years of being arrested has gone down. But the number of Malay drug abusers arrested has continued to rise following the trend among all races, largely because of the surge in the number of abusers of new psychoactive substances.
Increased community engagement has had an impact on reducing the relapse numbers among Malay drug abusers, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs Amrin Amin said on Saturday (March 16).
Their number has gone down from 40 percent in 2013 to around 28 percent today, he said.
In 2013, 1,710 Malay drug abusers were arrested and this number dipped to 1,618 in 2017. But it surged again in 2018, hitting 1,760.
Last year, the overall number of drug abusers arrested rose to 3,438 and a significant proportion (40 percent) of them were new abusers.
"There are worrying signs. The Malay community is over represented in the number of drug abusers. But there have also been good progress made and it is worthwhile to highlight some of the good progress made because it is definitely not a lost cause and the community has made good progress," said Mr Amrin.
"The number of drug abusers among the Malay community has halved from 3,200 in 1993 to about 1,700 now. It is actually very good progress" he added.
Mr Amrin was speaking at a seminar at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre on strategies in tackling the drug problem in Singapore.
He said that the increased number of volunteers has had a positive influence on the Malay community.
"Since the Dadah Itu Haram (Drugs are Forbidden) campaign started in 2017, over 360 volunteers had stepped forward to help.
"And I think these are very good indicators. It is momentum building and a very healthy development. These are points that are worthwhile to highlight to show that there is hope, that with perseverance, with determination, the community working closely together in partnership with the government that we can achieve a drug-free Singapore," Mr Amrin said.
Organised by AMP and the Centre for Research on Islamic and Malay Affairs, the annual one-day Community in Review seminar discusses issues affecting the Malay/Muslim community and Singaporeans at large.
In a related development, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo reiterated Singapore's tough stance against drugs and emphasised the importance of prevention when she addressed the 62nd Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, in Austria, on Friday (March 15).
She said: "This is ultimately aimed at checking the supply of and demand for drugs. What has been effective for us? Prevention education, deterrent laws, robust enforcement and effective rehabilitation and aftercare with abstinence as a goal. They are not rocket science but they do require strong political will, consistent and persistent actions. The results speak for themselves and strengthen public support over time."