Updates from Ministry of Home Affairs


  • Tue, 02 Mar 2021 16:00:00 +0000: Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on the Singapore Police Force’s Crisis Negotiation Unit, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law - Ministry of Home Affairs Newsroom

    Question:

    Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang:
    To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether the Singapore Police Force’s Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU) currently includes social workers trained in suicide interventions; and (b) if not, whether the Ministry will consider including social workers in the CNU when responding to suicide attempts.


    Answer:

    1. The Crisis Negotiation Unit (CNU) includes Police officers and psychologists who are trained in negotiation tactics, including how to handle cases involving barricaded subjects or those who attempt to commit suicide. There are no social workers in the CNU.

    2. When attending to a case involving attempted suicide, the immediate objective of responders is to ensure the safety of the person in distress and others around him or her. After the Police have ensured the safety of the various parties, other relevant personnel may then be brought in to attend to the suicidal person and to provide the necessary support. This may include social workers.
  • Tue, 02 Mar 2021 16:00:00 +0000: AMP Micro Business Programme Graduation Ceremony at Singapore Prison Service Institution A4 – Short Remarks by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development - Ministry of Home Affairs Newsroom
    1. A very good morning to Ms Shie Yong Lee, Commissioner, Singapore Prison Service (SPS); Mr Chng Hwee Hong, Chairman, Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG); Ms Zarina Yusof, Executive Director, AMP Singapore; and friends, as well as the 18 participants of the AMP Micro Business Programme.

    2. I want to congratulate all of you. A very meaningful journey, I must say. I want to thank AMP, as well as the SME Centre@Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI) as we continue this journey with you. This was an opportunity that you have seized, to develop new skills. And this is important because with these skills that you have been harnessing, you will continue to improve and you will become better. So, I want to congratulate all of you for taking this step. Some of you might be thinking about whether to give this a try, but now, you have completed the programme, and proven to yourself that you can. I’m sure that if you continue with it and see this as part of, or an area that you want to embark on, it is something worthwhile.

    3. And Ms Zarina shared about Mdm Sjuffriani[1]. Not only did she take on the course and get accredited in training, she became a trainer. So, this is a potential path that you can take. When you do something, and become good at it, you can in turn, give back to the community. When you do that, you develop and enhance your expertise, and that is something that I hope you will find meaning in and find opportunities to upgrade yourself and give back to society.

    4. Personally, I sincerely feel that this is an opportunity for you to stay focused, as well as do well in your rehabilitation and reintegration journey. My hope is that you find new meaning in life, go through the rehabilitation well, and be well reintegrated with your family. In order to do so, I think we can agree that we must find new meaning, stay away from what you did in the past. No doubt, nobody is perfect, but now, you are achievers. You have a path ahead of you, to use your skills that you have gotten from this programme. And I am confident that once you focus your mind on this effort, not only will you have a good rehabilitation and reintegration journey, I think that you can do well.

    5. COVID-19 has opened up many opportunities, and one of them is the area you have embarked on – that is, home-based businesses. I have engaged quite a number of home-based businesses, especially during the early part of COVID-19, when the Government was giving help to Singaporeans, as part of the Temporary Relief Fund. I’ve realised that many opportunities were created from online platforms which were very important. So, don’t miss this chance. See this as an opportunity, not only for today or next year, but also for many, many more years to come. My view is that home-based businesses will stay and continue. I know that you have children, and some of you worry about your children when you go out to work. This is a valid concern. With this, you will have more flexibility. Even if you have jobs outside, in your free time, you can also do this, and make some money as well.

    6. Secondly, I want you to urge you to involve your children in the process of baking, as it will enhance the bond between you and your children. That is important. When your child not only sees you when you come back, they also see that you have found a new meaning in life – this will bring new meaning to them, and I hope that this will stop the intergenerational cycle of offending in the future. I want better lives for you and your children. So, I hope you not only feel that it is a skill that you take on, but it is also something that you can find ways to, or meaningful to, develop with your family. This, to me is a very important aspect.

    7. So, don’t miss this opportunity. Remain focused. I understand that SME@SMCCI will also journey with you throughout the six months after your release. Take the opportunity. Don’t stay away from them and engage them, learn from them, get their advice on how you can do better. It may be difficult at first, but persevere. Get the advice from them, get connected with them, stay in touch with Ms Zarina and her colleagues. Like Mdm Sufriani, stay in touch. This is what we want to do – to develop pro-social groups, and create a new meaning in your life, so you can continue what you have gotten here and not be distracted by other things.


      Key Role of Community Partners in Supporting Offenders’ Rehabilitation and Reintegration

    8. And so, I would sincerely like to thank AMP[2]. AMP has worked with us not only for this programme, they are also helping us on some of the other programmes for our inmates – as well as their families. Thank you for partnering with us. We hope to continue to work with you and also with SME Centre@SMCCI.

    9. If you look at it, this is just one of the areas or partners. We have many other partners, and we will continue to grow this network for you and your family. We know it is very important for you to have this opportunity as part of your rehabilitation and reintegration journey. We will grow this, and we will strengthen this. We want to make sure that we do our best to help you. But I also want you to do your part, I want you to stay focused, and use these skills that you have. Don’t keep your eyes, heart and mind away from what you have just completed. Stay focused, continue this journey, and stay in touch with the people that are working hard to make a difference in your lives.

    10. Rehabilitation and reintegration are not easy, but you must persevere, and have commitment. I sincerely want to thank all my colleagues at SPS, YRSG and all our partners for working very hard to take care of our friends and their families. What is key is that we will continue this journey, and we can become better and better. At the same time, we can make your life and your family’s lives better, in Singapore.

    11. So, thanks for having me. Today is a proud day, not only for you but for all of us, because it is a journey that will have impact on the lives of fellow Singaporeans, and we want that to be a positive one. We hope you will continue this journey, stay on and do it for your families and friends.

    12. Thank you.


    [1] Mdm Sjuffriani does not have history of incarceration. She joined the public-run programme which was started in 2005. YRSG saw the potential of AMP Micro Business programme and brought relevant stakeholders together to conceptualize and implement a version of the Programme incare for female inmates with children.

    [2] AMP conducts the Development & Reintegration Programme (DRP), which adopts a structured and holistic approach in providing support to the offenders and their families. 

  • Tue, 02 Mar 2021 16:00:00 +0000: Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on the Ministry’s Review on Requiring Frontline Officers with the Singapore Police Force to Undergo Psychological First-aid Training, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law - Ministry of Home Affairs Newsroom

    Question:

    Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang:
    To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether he can provide an update on the Ministry’s review on requiring frontline officers with the Singapore Police Force to undergo psychological first-aid training to improve the quality of response to attempted suicides.


    Answer:

    1. Police completed a review of their training programme in February 2021 and assess that the elements of psychological first-aid training in the programme are adequate for now. For instance, the training programme for frontline police officers, such as the Ground Response Forces, covers suicide intervention skills such as empathising with emotionally distressed individuals in order to be able to assist them appropriately.
  • Tue, 02 Mar 2021 16:00:00 +0000: Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Long-Term Visit Pass Holders who Requested for the Renewal of Their Pass through Non-spousal Sponsorship, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law - Ministry of Home Affairs Newsroom

    Question:

    Ms Carrie Tan:
    To ask the Minister for Home Affairs of the average of 24,255 applications received each year from Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) holders who requested for the renewal of their pass through non-spousal sponsorship (a) what is the breakdown by relationship to sponsor; (b) what is the approval rate for each category and what are the common reasons for rejection; and (c) what are the circumstances under which LTVP holders married to Singaporean citizens can seek sponsorship from other Singaporean citizens.


    Answer:

    1. The average number of applications received each year from 2015 to 2020 for the renewal of a Long-Term Visit Pass (LTVP) which is not sponsored by a local spouse, was about 23,500.Of this, 46% were from foreign parents and 37% were from foreign children, of Singaporeans or permanent residents (PRs).The remaining 17% were from LTVP holders with other types of relationship to their sponsor, such as foreign family members of Student’s Pass holders, foreign former spouses (of Singaporeans or PRs) who are widowed or divorced, and foreign still-married spouses who are undergoing divorce proceedings.

    2. In the same time period, nearly all LTVP renewal applications from foreign parents and foreign children of Singaporeans or PRs were approved. For applications from LTVP holders with other types of relationship to their sponsor, about 98% were approved.A small minority of applications were rejected, mostly due to (i) the applicant not having local family roots, (ii) the sponsor or applicant having adverse records, or (iii) because the sponsor was not able to demonstrate the ability to financially support himself or herself and the applicant.

    3. While the general rule is that foreign spouses should renew their LTVP under the sponsorship of their local spouse, those who are unable to do so can seek sponsorship from other Singaporeans or PRs. ICA will consider if there are valid reasons for the foreign spouse to stay in Singapore, such as whether the foreign spouse has custody of Singaporean children or is undergoing divorce proceedings in Singapore.
  • Sun, 28 Feb 2021 16:00:00 +0000: Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Capping the Engine Capacity or Engine Power for Vehicles Allowed to be Driven by New Drivers, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law - Ministry of Home Affairs Newsroom

    Question:

    Ms He Ting Ru:
    To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether the Ministry will consider capping the engine capacity or engine power for vehicles allowed to be driven by new drivers.


    Answer:

    1. The Rules provide for different levels of experience requirements, for some categories of vehicles. For example, new motorcyclists are only qualified to drive a Class 2B motorcycle with an engine capacity or power of up to 200cc or 15kW. Individuals who wish to ride a Class 2A motorcycle, which has an engine capacity or power that exceeds 200cc or 15kW, but does not exceed 400cc or 25kW, can only apply for a Class 2A driving licence after they have held a Class 2B driving licence for at least one year. Similarly, individuals who wish to ride a Class 2 motorcycle, which has an engine capacity or power exceeding 400cc or 25kW, can only apply for a Class 2 driving licence after they have held a Class 2A driving licence for at least one year.

    2. Individuals can only apply for a Class 4 or 4A driving licence, which allows them to drive heavy vehicles such as big lorries and omnibuses, if they possess a valid Class 3 or 3C driving licence, which allows them to drive vehicles such as cars. Similarly, individuals can only apply for a Class 5 driving licence which allows them to drive heavy vehicles such as cranes, if they possess a valid Class 4 driving licence.

    3. The question is whether we need to put in similar rules within Class 3 licences. Class 3 licence holders are allowed to drive vehicles categorised as Class 3 vehicles, regardless of engine capacity or power.

    4. Our assessment has been that there is no need to differentiate, within Class 3. There is no evidence that new drivers will not be able to handle vehicles classified as Class 3 or that engine capacity has been a key reason for accidents. The evidence is that primary reasons for accidents have been other factors, including negligence, recklessness, and driving while under the influence of intoxicants.

    5. In general, our roads have become safer over the last ten years, with road traffic fatalities decreasing from 195 in 2011, to 118 in 2019, and 85 in 2020. MHA will continue to study how we can make our roads even safer.

  • Sun, 28 Feb 2021 16:00:00 +0000: Committee of Supply Debate 2021 on “Keeping Singapore Safe in the Evolving Security Environment” – Speech by Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for Home Affairs - Ministry of Home Affairs Newsroom

    Overview of Safety and Security Situation


    Singapore remains one of the safest places in the world

    1. Chairman, Singapore remains one of the safest places in the world. The 2020 Gallup Global Law and Order Report ranked Singapore first, for the seventh year running. Singapore was also ranked first in the 2020 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index in the area of “Order and Security”.

    2. Police have kept traditional crimes - that is, all crimes except scams - well in check and on the decline over the years.

    3. The drug situation in Singapore remains under control and our fire fatality rate remains one of the lowest in the world.

    4. Public confidence in the Home Team remains high. In the most recent survey, 9 in 10 Singapore residents agreed that the Home Team has done well and trust our officers to serve them with integrity.


      Three challenges
    5. Notwithstanding these successes, there are a few key challenges we are paying particular attention to. I will speak about three of them. They are terrorism, foreign interference and harmful online content.




      The Threat of Terrorism

    6. Terrorism remains a serious threat. The Home Team has been vigilant, but the terrorists only need to get through once, to cause us serious damage.

    7. Mr Christopher De Souza asked about our detection abilities and rehabilitation of terrorist detainees.

    8. Our threat is trans-national in nature. We have strong working relationships with foreign security agencies, to share intelligence and disrupt plots. For example, ISD worked closely with the Indonesian authorities to disrupt the plot by a Batam-based pro-ISIS cell targeting Marina Bay Sands.

    9. Local threats are more difficult to detect, as individuals may be self-radicalised. Under the SGSecure movement, the Home Team and our partners make efforts to educate the community on preventing and responding to terror attacks, including spotting the signs of radicalisation.

    10. On terrorist detainees, the best way to neutralise their threat is to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into society. We have refined our approach based on our own experiences, learning from international best practices, and in response to the changing profile of detainees.

         


      Safeguarding against Foreign Interference in Our Domestic Politics

    11. Mr Christopher de Souza also asked what MHA would do to deter foreign interference in our domestic affairs. He believes we should ensure that Singapore politics remains the domain of Singaporeans only. We cannot agree more.

    12. We have previously articulated the need to safeguard Singapore against foreign interference in our domestic politics. The threat has always been present. But in recent times, it has risen in potential and severity because of the increasing ease to carry out such operations. Since time immemorial, states have sought to subvert others to achieve their own objectives. This can take various forms, such as hostile information campaigns and subversion operations to manipulate domestic political discourse, and to influence politically significant organisations and persons. There is also value to polarizing views and turning people against each other. Doing so can weaken a country’s resolve and strengthen the attacker’s bargaining position.

    13. Singapore needs to be open to the world to make a living. But our diversity and openness also present opportunities for foreign actors.

    14. In the 1970s, we were the target of two interference operations involving our newspapers – The Eastern Sun and the Singapore Herald. The newspapers received funding from foreign sources, and ran articles to undermine our nation-building efforts.

    15. In 2018 and 2019, when we were facing bilateral issues with our immediate neighbour, there was a curious spike in online comments critical of Singapore. Many of these comments came from anonymous accounts, which sought to give an artificial impression that there were significant and fundamental objections to Singapore's position.

    16. In recent years, we have seen concerning developments overseas. Globally, cases of cyber-enabled foreign interference in elections increased from 7 between 2011 and 2015, to 41 between 2016 and 2020. So you compare the two time periods - a sixfold increase. We have also seen reports from Australia and other countries, that foreign powers and their agents attempted to influence their politics by buying off political parties and politicians.

    17. At the same time, social media platforms have not dealt, and have little interest to deal with these threats. For instance, political observers have attributed the storming of the US Capitol to the failure of social media platforms to take timely and firm action against election misinformation and calls for violent resistance.

    18. Fortunately for us, 2020’s Parliamentary Elections went peacefully. However, looking at other countries, there is reason for more robust preventive measures.

    19. Many countries have taken steps to mitigate this risk. Some have introduced legislation to address the threat of foreign interference. For instance, Australia has made it compulsory for those who undertake activities on behalf of foreign principals to make public disclosures, to deter covert influence attempts to influence.

    20. To address the threat of foreign interference in our domestic politics, we must in the first place, build up Singaporeans’ ability to discern legitimate and artificial online discourse, and respond appropriately. However, as interference operations are increasingly sophisticated and well disguised, it is not enough to have a discerning public.

    21. We are therefore studying other countries’ approaches. Legislative levers may be needed, for example to obtain necessary information to investigate hostile information campaigns, to determine if they are of foreign provenance or artificial; to break the virality of such campaigns if they are indeed conducted by foreign actors to subvert our domestic politics; and to carry counter-messaging to alert Singaporeans to these ongoing hostile information campaigns.

    22. Given the recent experiences of other countries, we need to consider further measures to guard against foreign subversion of politically significant individuals and entities. For example, what levels of transparency in funding, support, and leadership is appropriate, for whom?

    23. The public has a big part in this, to shape proposals and to give the eventual safeguards their strongest support. It is the only way we can effectively deter bad foreign actors from exploiting our vulnerabilities.




      Safeguarding against Online Harms

    24. Mr Derrick Goh asked about achieving effective justice for those affected by online harassment and doxxing. This will be addressed by the Ministry of Law.

    25. Mr Zhulkarnain asked about the steps to protect our society from harmful online content. Indeed, the Internet has made dissemination of harmful content quick and easy, in ways previously not possible.

    26. Such harmful content includes violent extremist propaganda, such as the livestreaming of the 2019 shootings in Christchurch, and the shooter’s manifesto, which radicalised the 16-year-old detained last year.

    27. Another example would be the dissemination of voyeuristic materials and intimate images without consent, through platforms such as Telegram.

          
         
      Need for intervention

    28. Some platforms do put in effort to deal with harmful content. But not every platform puts society’s interests first. This is to be expected – platforms are driven by their own values and commercial interests.

    29. Many countries therefore see the need for regulation. For example, Germany has passed legislation requiring platforms to respond to user complaints about unlawful content.

    30. Many tech companies have acknowledged the need for regulation, even if they disagree with governments on the ‘how’.

    31. MHA has been working with MCI to review our options. This may include new regulatory levers.




      Maintaining Public Trust and Confidence in the Home Team

    32. To effectively carry out these many streams of work, public trust in the Home Team is critical. We do not take this trust for granted.

           
        
      Home Team’s Efforts to Maintain Public Trust

    33. The Home Team will continue to uphold the highest level of integrity and conduct. Where there are allegations of improper discharge of duties by Home Team officers, we will investigate thoroughly. If the allegations are substantiated, firm action is taken against the officers. Where we have slipped up as an organisation, we have acknowledged unreservedly, and tightened up.

             

      Efforts to De-legitimise the Home Team

    34. Sadly, there have been efforts by some to de-legitimise our Police and other law enforcement agencies by circulating false allegations through social media.

    35. These irresponsible social media posts seek to weaken public trust in the Home Team, and weaken our ability to maintain law and order. We need the public’s help to be responsible, and refrain from spreading false allegations.

             

      Continuing Efforts to Better Serve the Public

    36. We will continue to improve our processes to better serve the public.

    37. Mr Leong Mun Wai asked about the implementation of video recording of interviews (VRI) and increasing the pool of foreign language interpreters for police interviews.
           
    38. We have gradually expanded VRI since introducing it in 2018. Where it was initially only used for investigation of rape offences, it now covers other offences, such as child abuse. VRI requires substantial investment in technology, infrastructure, and most important of all, training. We will gradually expand the types of offences to be covered by VRI. There are budgetary constraints as we move on this.

    39. The Police currently engages the services of interpreters for foreign languages. If a person requires interpretation, Police will engage an interpreter and record the statement only when the interpreter is available.

    40. Madam, let me sum up. Our safety and security landscape is getting more challenging. We have been doing quite well, and will invest more resources to tackle emerging threats. We will continue to do what it takes to uphold the trust of Singaporeans through our capabilities, integrity, and impartiality. We will need the strong support of fellow Singaporeans, and must be able to count on this.
  • Sun, 28 Feb 2021 16:00:00 +0000: Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on the Number of Persons who have Been Rejected in Driving Licence Applications Because of Their Mental Illness in the Past Five Years, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law - Ministry of Home Affairs Newsroom

    Question:

    Mr Leon Perera:
     To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) in the past five years, how many persons have been rejected in driving licence applications because of their mental illness; and (b) how does the Ministry determine the types of mental disorders that bar a person from applying for a driving licence as defined under Rule 8 of the Road Traffic (Motor Vehicles, Driving Licenses) Rules.


    Answer:

    1. Between 2018 and 2020, 31 persons were prohibited from taking the driving tests to obtain a driving licence as they were suffering from a mental disorder. This constituted 0.014% of all the applicants in that period. TP does not have data prior to 2018, before the implementation of online application for the Provisional Driving Licence.

    2. When applying for a driving licence, should an individual indicate that he is suffering from a mental disorder, or if there is reason to believe that the person may have mental disorder, then there will be a requirement to undergo a medical assessment. A doctor will assess if he is fit to drive based on guidelines stipulated by the Singapore Medical Association. He will be allowed to take the driving tests only if the doctor certifies that he is fit to drive.
  • Sun, 28 Feb 2021 16:00:00 +0000: Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Progress Update on the Rollout of the Home Fire Alarm Device Assistance Scheme, by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law - Ministry of Home Affairs Newsroom

    Question:

    Miss Cheryl Chan:
    To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether he can provide a progress update on the rollout of the Home Fire Alarm Device Assistance Scheme and what have been the issues faced during the rollout.


    Answer:

    1. SCDF, HDB and PA have been working together under the scheme to offer free installation of home fire alarm devices, or HFADs, for about 60,000 public rental flats.

    2. Since the launch of the programme in June 2018, SCDF and HDB have installed HFADs in around 43,000 flats. HDB targets to complete the installation works by this year.

    3. The agencies have not encountered any major issues, except that some residents declined the free installation, citing concerns with allowing contractors into their homes, and the possibility of false alarms.
  • Sun, 28 Feb 2021 16:00:00 +0000: Oral Reply to Parliamentary Question on Criteria for the Installation of Speed Cameras for Roads, by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development - Ministry of Home Affairs Newsroom

    Question:

    Ms Joan Pereira:
    To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what criteria need to be met before the installation of speed cameras for roads; and (b) whether the Ministry will consider installing them where speeding takes place often especially at locations where these incidents occur mostly at night.


    Answer:

    1. For the installation of speed cameras, the Traffic Police (TP) will consider locations where speeding takes place often and which are prone to accidents. This is regardless whether the speeding incidents and accidents tend to occur at night or in the daytime. In addition, TP will assess if the terrain is suitable for the camera to be installed and effectively detect violations.

    2. Besides fixed speed cameras, TP officers conduct anti-speeding operations daily. TP also works closely with the Land Transport Authority on the installation of speed regulating measures, such as road humps and speed regulating strips, where necessary and feasible.  
  • Sun, 28 Feb 2021 16:00:00 +0000: Committee of Supply Debate 2021 on “Combating Drug Abuse; Strengthening Rehabilitation and Reintegration” – Speech by Assoc Prof Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of National Development - Ministry of Home Affairs Newsroom
    1. Mdm Chairperson, I will speak on combating drug abuse, rehabilitation and reintegration, and immigration for foreign dependants. Some members today are wearing the Anti-Drug pin and Yellow Ribbon pin, to demonstrate their support of our national efforts in these areas. I thank members for doing so.


      Dealing with Growing Areas of Concern in Drug Abuse

    2. The global drug situation continues to be worrying.

    3. Last December, the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs narrowly voted to remove cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which lists the most dangerous drugs.

    4. This may lead some to believe that cannabis is harmless, despite strong evidence to the contrary.

    5. More needs to be done to safeguard our zero-tolerance policy towards drugs.


      Preventive Drug Education (PDE)


    6. Preventive drug education is our first line of defence.

    7. The Central Narcotics Bureau, or CNB, educates primary and secondary school students about the dangers of drugs through activities like talks and competitions.

    8. CNB continues to partner students from Institutes of Higher Learning to co-create projects, to encourage older youths to become anti-drug advocates. For instance, CNB worked with Ngee Ann Polytechnic students on a social media marketing campaign, YouUseYouLose, which reached almost 300,000 people.

    9. CNB strengthened its anti-cannabis narrative in 2020. For example, information on the harms of cannabis was pushed out as advertisements, and a short film on cannabis was produced and screened in cinemas.

    10. We will continue our efforts to counter narratives that downplay the harms of drugs. 


      Rigorous Enforcement


    11. Mr de Souza spoke about halting the international flow of drugs. CNB works with regional counterparts to share intelligence and conduct joint operations to deal with transnational drug activities. The Home Team has strong enforcement measures at our borders to detect traffickers and drugs. In 2020, CNB seized about $11.6 million worth of drugs. The Home Team intercepted 568 parcels containing suspected drugs and related paraphernalia, many of which were online purchases.

    12. Mr de Souza and Mr Sitoh mentioned New Psychoactive Substances, or NPS. Currently, because of how NPS are listed in the Misuse of Drugs Act, there may be a time lag from detecting to listing a novel NPS.

    13. This year, we will amend the Act to regulate NPS based on their potential to produce a psychoactive effect, to allow CNB to take swifter enforcement action.


      Strengthening Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Offenders


    14. Mr de Souza asked about rehabilitating youth drug abusers. Youths are placed on the Youth Enhanced Supervision programme or channelled to the Community Rehabilitation Centre or Drug Rehabilitation Centre, depending on various factors such as their assessed risk level. Each youth is matched to the most appropriate intervention programme to best support their rehabilitation. 

    15. Mr de Souza and Mr Zhulkarnain asked about the rehabilitation and re-integration of offenders.


      Differentiated Treatment of Offenders


    16. In 2014, the Enhanced Drug Rehabilitation Regime, or EDRR, was introduced for first- and second-time drug abusers. This aligned rehabilitative interventions to the abusers’ risk of re-offending and level of dependency on drugs.

    17. In 2019, the drug rehabilitation regime was further enhanced to commit third-time and subsequent drug abusers who are not charged with any other criminal offences to the DRC, instead of being charged in court and liable for Long-term imprisonment.

    18. Mr de Souza asked about the effectiveness of this calibrated approach. A Prisons’ study revealed that the two-year recidivism rate for drug abusers who went through the EDRR was 8 percentage points lower than those who did not. We will assess the effectiveness of the 2019 enhancements when we have sufficient data.


      Community Support


    19. Effective rehabilitation and reintegration require strong community, family and vocational support. I will speak in Malay, about community support.


      [Start of Malay speech]

         
    20. Masyarakat Melayu Islam telah mencapai kemajuan dalam memerangi dadah. Kadar penagih dadah Melayu bentan dalam dua tahun selepas dibebaskan telah merosot daripada 42 peratus bagi kohort keluar 2011 kepada kira-kira 30 peratus bagi kohort keluar 2018.

    21. Namun begitu, kita tidak boleh leka. Kita terus berusaha untuk menurunkan lagi bilangan tersebut. Menerusi kempen “Dadah Itu Haram”, Biro Narkotik Pusat (CNB) bekerjasama dengan pihak masjid dan rakan-rakan kerja masyarakat untuk mengadakan aktiviti-aktiviti jangkauan.

    22. Kementerian Dalam Negeri, iaitu MHA bekerjasama dengan agensi-agensi di bawah M Kuasa Tiga (M3), MUIS telah menubuhkan pejabat Pusat Khidmat Penjagaan Berterusan bagi Pesalah dan Keluarga, iaitu FITRAH untuk memberikan sokongan menyeluruh kepada golongan banduan dan keluarga mereka.

    23. Buat masa ini, para relawan FITRAH menjalani latihan untuk membekalkan mereka dengan kemahiran yang bersifat luas, seperti kaunseling, agar dapat menyokong penerima bantuan mereka. Kami akan mempertimbangkan saranan Cik Nadia untuk mempersiapkan para relawan untuk mendampingi banduan yang pelbagai latar belakang dan keperluan.

    24. Encik de Souza menyebut tentang inisiatif sokongan rakan sebaya. Melalui Rangka Kerja Relawan Penjagaan Berterusan, para relawan yang telah membina hubungan dengan banduan melalui program-program dalam penjara dapat terus menyediakan sokongan pro sosial bagi mereka selepas mereka dibebaskan.

    25. Terdapat kumpulan-kumpulan bekas pesalah yang bersatu untuk memberikan sokongan antara satu sama lain. Tahun ini, Rangkaian CARE akan menubuhkan rangka kerja untuk menyokong kumpulan tersebut, yang berfungsi sebagai rangkaian pro sosial bagi bekas pesalah.

    26. Kami akan terus bekerjasama secara rapat dengan kumpulan-kumpulan masyarakat untuk mengukuhkan usaha jangkauan dan integrasi semula.


      [End of Malay speech]



      Family Support


    27. Ms Nadia asked what more can be done to support families of inmates and ex-offenders.

    28. For families of inmates who need support, Prisons will make referrals to Family Service Centres (FSCs) or other social service agencies.

    29. This year, Prisons and MSF will strengthen coordination and information exchange with FSCs on inmates with family members in need of support. This will ensure timely access to FSC resources.

    30. Besides training volunteers who work with inmates, Prisons will extend training opportunities to those who assist inmates’ families. Together, our efforts to better support families will also help to reduce intergenerational offending. 


      Career and Skills Development for Inmates and Ex-Offenders


    31. Mr Zhulkarnain asked about enhancing the employability of ex-offenders.

    32. Yellow Ribbon Singapore or YRSG, previously known as SCORE, has charted a career masterplan to train inmates for careers in key and growth sectors.

    33. YRSG has also mapped a skills masterplan, under which it has developed pathways for inmates to continue to acquire skills after release. Under a new Train and Place and Grow initiative, partner industries and training providers will offer employment and continuous upgrading through a work-study arrangement after inmates’ release.

    34. In 2020, YRSG partnered organisations to offer training in media and precision engineering. This year, TAP and Grow will be expanded to the Logistics and Infocomm sectors. Training facilities for these sectors will be set up in prison.


      Employment Opportunities for Ex-Offenders


    35. Under the Jobs Growth Incentive that was launched in September, ex-offenders are eligible for the higher tier of wage support. This has expanded the employment opportunities available to ex-offenders.

    36. Mr Murali asked about encouraging short sentence inmates to take advantage of the increased job opportunities.

    37. YRSG offers career guidance and job matching to all inmates, regardless of the length of their sentence. From 2018 to 2020, an average of 2,560 inmates received employment assistance prior to release each year. Of these, about 5.5% served short sentences, with the rest comprising long-term or DRC inmates. In all, about 95% of all who received assistance between 2018 and 2020 secured a job. YRSG and Prisons will intensify outreach to create greater awareness of the opportunities available and we will take your suggestions.

    38. Dr Tan Wu Meng suggested introducing a Yellow Ribbon mark to recognise firms that practise inclusive hiring of ex-offenders.

    39. We have been recognising such employers through the previous SCORE Appreciation Awards. 

    40. Nonetheless, a Yellow Ribbon mark could encourage more employers to partner with YRSG and offer more employment opportunities to ex-offenders. YRSG will explore this further, and I thank you for your suggestion.


      Immigration Pathways for Foreign Dependents of Singapore


    41. On immigration, Mr Gerald Giam asked about permanent residence for foreigners with family ties to Singaporeans.

    42. Each PR application is evaluated holistically on a range of criteria, including but not limited to economic contributions, educational qualifications, and applicant’s ability to integrate into society. In general, PR applicants with family ties to Singaporeans are already considered more favourably to those without.

    43. Foreigners with family ties to Singaporeans who are not able to obtain PR but wish to continue residing in Singapore may apply for a Long-Term Visit Pass, work pass or Student’s Pass.


      Conclusion


    44. Parliamentary Colleagues, thank you for your strong support. With your continued support, and that of all Singaporeans, the Home Team will continue to keep Singapore safe and secure. Thank you, Mdm Chairperson.