SINGAPORE – In response to the high incidence of drug abuse by Malays in Singapore, Malay-Muslim organisations are implementing programmes to tackle the problem and also assist drug offenders and their families.
According to Home Affairs and Law Minister, K Shanmugam, the percentage of arrested Malay drug abusers increased from 32 per cent in 2006 to 53 per cent in 2016. In the same period, new Malay drug abusers have gone up to 54 per cent from 22 per cent.
Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) senior manager Hameet Khanee told the Sunday Times that increased accessibility to drugs have led to an increase in Malay drug offenders. She also referred to the ease of purchasing drugs online.
The Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Yaacob Ibrahim, would like to see more community-initiated programmes to address the problem.
He further added that outreach programmes should highlight the important role of parents and families in ensuring young people do not turn to drug abuse as a solution to the challenges in their lives.
This aligned with Khanee’s comment that “more effort should go into enhancing the role of the family as the main avenue of support and educator”.
AMP launched a programme which aims to assist jailed offenders and their families. The programme named Development and Reintegration programme consists of two phases.
The first phase consists of ten sessions covering topics such as financial literacy, work skills and family strengthening. The first phase will complement existing programmes by the Singapore Prison Service.
The second phase consists of after-care and case work services for the offenders and their families. So far, 23 inmates and their families are part of the pilot run, with the aim of rehabilitating 100 inmates and supporting their families.
The New Spice Up programme launched by Pertapis aims to reconnect offenders with their families and society through activities such as kayaking and abseiling. These activities can keep the former offenders occupied and discourage them from turning to narcotic abuse again.
Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (Pergas) has also launched a joint programme with the Ministry of Home Affairs and Mendaki. The programme, named ‘Insan Mukmin’ (Faithful Muslim), offers 14 sessions of religious counselling to inmates who are still serving their sentences. The programme continues after their release from prison with 5 more sessions in Khalid Mosque in Joo Chiat Road. 24 inmates participated in the pilot run in 2016.
Mr Ahmad, 44, a resident in a Pertapis halfway house said that the company one keeps is important. He recalled his first puff of cannabis at 14 from his group of friends. This led to his drug addiction problem later in his life. Mr Ahmad has been to prison three times for drug-related offences and was caught for drug trafficking seven years ago.