Why I am thankful for the strict anti-drug abuse and trafficking policies in Singapore?

To the World, Singapore has imposed one of the most draconian punishments on people who abuse or traffic drugs into the country. However, as a Singaporean who recently moved to the UK in January 2022, I am grateful that Singapore’s leaders have maintained their firm stance on drugs.

What I observed in the UK in 2022?

When I first arrived in the UK, I was appalled and shocked to see homeless people sitting outside supermarkets in the cold winter. Later, I learned that many of them were struggling with addiction issues relating to alcohol and or drugs abuses. My initial sympathy quickly transformed into a mix of anger, relief, and apathy.

At first, I felt anger towards the historical events such as the opium war, and momentarily held a grudge against “British people” for introducing opium to China and Asia. However, I soon realized that it was the people in power at that time, not the innocent working-class British, who intentionally caused harm to my forefathers.

Observing the dire state of these homeless individuals reinforced my appreciation for Singapore’s leaders. Despite international pressure, they have remained steadfast in enforcing strict laws to punish those attempting to bring drugs into the country.

At the same time, I realised that these homeless people in the UK were victims of the lenient stance on substance distribution and abuses policies in the UK. Essentially, I felt that the UK government had chosen to turn a blind eye to this issue, leaving me with a sense of helplessness as a newcomer to the country, which, in turn, evoked feelings of apathy.

How I hope to contribute in the future?

Nevertheless, in the near future, I would like to volunteer for this charity that feeds the homeless people every Thursday at Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester when I have the bandwidth. It really warms my heart to see that there are still people who care in the community.

Another idea that I have in mind is to design free A4-sheets of educational games for kids to teach them more about the harmful consequences of drugs. However, I really do not have the bandwidth to act on this thought right now. Therefore, I am noting it down here as a repository for the future me to take action. I do hope that my student(s) may be inspired to help me in this project. 

I am deeply concerned about the negative consequences of drug use or any form of addictive substances, and I want to drive home this message to my loved ones. However, I believe it would be disrespectful to photograph homeless people in the UK and share their images on social media or any website.

Teenagers and Drugs-use in 2023

Recently, a student of mine confided in me that he had experimented with drugs such as Panadol and cough syrup when he was 11 to 12 years old, as a means of coping with depression and suicidal thoughts. Fortunately, he did not experience any overdose issues and has moved on from that phase. My student also shared that many of his classmates are vaping at his age, and a childhood schoolmate who moved to the United States knows of 27 teenagers who currently use drugs, including himself.

I feel sorry for my student, as he is surrounded by peers who have access to drugs and addictive substances at home. It must be incredibly challenging for him to resist peer pressure. When I was 13-year-old, public schools in Singapore emphasised the harmful effects of cigarettes and drugs through educational videos, showcasing how individuals lose their dignity when they become enslaved by addictive substances.

At 14-year-old right now, my student had chosen to research more about drug usage and champion Article 33 of the UNCRC which says that “children and young people have a right to be protected from harmful drugs.” as part of his school assignment. I am so proud of him for being able to think independently to form his own opinions and judgement.  

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