Strong support for Singapore's anti-drug policies: Survey

Drugs seized in a raid. MHA said the public support for its drug policies shows "our comprehensive and sustained approach to tackling the demand and supply of drugs has allowed Singapore to remain relatively drug-free".
Drugs seized in a raid. MHA said the public support for its drug policies shows "our comprehensive and sustained approach to tackling the demand and supply of drugs has allowed Singapore to remain relatively drug-free".ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

But death penalty for traffickers gets less backing from people aged 13 to 30

Singapore residents strongly support the country's anti-drug policies, with about 98 per cent of people polled agreeing that the country should continue to have tough laws to keep out drugs.

But when it comes to the death penalty for drug traffickers, more young people do not agree it is an appropriate punishment.

Only around one in two of those aged 13 to 30 agrees that the death penalty is appropriate for traffickers of large amounts of drugs, compared with almost three in four among those who are older than 30.

Overall, seven out of 10 local residents polled in a nationwide survey, released yesterday by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), agree that the punishment befits the crime.

The survey involved face-to-face interviews with 2,000 Singapore residents aged 13 to 75.

Criminal lawyer Chia Boon Teck said the 2018 survey results show a clear shift in attitudes between the two generations. This difference should be monitored closely to prevent the laws from becoming out of touch, he added.

Criminal lawyer Sunil Sudheesan said the findings indicate the pervasiveness of alternative views of punishment, especially against the backdrop of advocates worldwide and in Singapore campaigning against the death penalty.

"This thinking appears to have caught on among local residents. And while deterrence is important, the sanctity of life must be weighed," he said.

 
 

As for jail time for drug traffickers, nine out of 10 in all age groups say it is an appropriate punishment. With caning, the figure is eight out of 10.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, commenting on the findings, said: "We must persevere with our tough laws and enforcement, even as we seek to educate Singaporeans on the harms of drugs and rehabilitate addicts."

The survey found 98 per cent of respondents agree that drug abusers should undergo rehabilitation.

MHA said the strong public support for its drug policies shows "our comprehensive and sustained approach to tackling the demand and supply of drugs has allowed Singapore to remain relatively drug-free".

It added: "We will continue to work closely with our partners to fight the scourge of drugs through preventive education, tough laws and effective enforcement."

It also said the Central Narcotics Bureau will step up its preventive drug education efforts, focusing particularly on the young.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2019, with the headline 'Strong support for S'pore's anti-drug policies: Survey'. Print Edition | Subscribe