SINGAPORE — The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) is investigating the alleged drug abuse cases by Singaporeans that occurred during a music festival over the weekend in Kuala Lumpur.
Eight Singaporeans remained warded in a Malaysian hospital, while two other Singaporeans, identified by the Malaysian media as Ng Teck Ming, 27, and Mohamed Redzwan Sali, 26, were among 14 foreigners charged for allegedly taking drugs during the Future Music Festival Asia.
The event, originally scheduled to run from Friday to Sunday, was cut short by a day after six Malaysians died of a suspected drug overdose.
Responding to media queries, a CNB spokesperson said the bureau is working with its Malaysian counterparts fordetails of Singaporeans who had allegedly been taking drugs at the event. “CNB will investigate these cases and will take action if they are found to have consumed controlled drugs,” the spokesperson said.
Based on CNB’s provisional figures, 80 Singaporeans or permanent residents were arrested here between 2009 and last year for consuming drugs overseas.
The CNB spokesperson reiterated that Singapore adopts a “zero-tolerance stance” on drug activities. “We work with the Home Team agencies to conduct vigorous enforcement operations to target drug offenders. These include stringent checks at the checkpoints on both vehicles and passengers to deter the inflow of illicit drugs into Singapore,” the spokesperson said.
“CNB may also subject people who enter Singapore to urine testing. Under the law, any Singapore citizen or permanent resident, who has been found to have consumed a controlled drug outside Singapore, may be dealt with as if the offence was committed within Singapore.”
The spokesperson said CNB regularly conducts operations at major party events here to detect drug activity. Several arrests have been made in the past, she added. “CNB will take firm and decisive action against any person or organiser who breaks these laws,” the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Bernama News Agency reported yesterday that Ng and Mohamed Redzwan were among 14 foreigners charged by the Malaysian authorities for allegedly taking drugs at the music festival. The two Singaporeans have pleaded not guilty to consuming ecstasy, amphetamine and cannabis. If convicted, they could be jailed a maximum of five years and fined up to RM100,000 (S$38,600).
Among those charged, five men from Indonesia and Sudan pleaded guilty to a charge of taking drugs at the festival. The men allegedly consumed cannabis or methamphetamine near a mobile police station in the compound of the Bukit Jalil Stadium.
Malaysian drug busters suspect that the drugs were manufactured abroad — possibly in the Golden Triangle, an infamous drug manufacturing hub — and brought to the concert by foreign revellers to be distributed to others. They also said the drug consumed by those who died was a new type and possibly being tried in the Malaysian market by drug syndicates.
In a separate incident reported by TODAY yesterday, a 26-year-old Singaporean, Chua Wen Hu, died on Sunday after he reportedly took drugs and collapsed during a concert at a music festival in Jakarta.
Counsellors whom TODAY spoke to said participants at music festivals could be tempted to take drugs to enhance the party experience.
Dr Carol Balhetchet, Senior Director for Youth Services at the Singapore Children’s Society, noted that youth may also be subject to peer pressure to try drugs when they are in large groups.
However, she pointed out that these drug abusers are different from those in the higher-risk groups, who will attempt to consume drugs even in Singapore.
Mr Freddy Wee, Deputy Director of drug rehabilitation halfway house Breakthrough Missions, felt that the tight control on drug use here might have led to Singaporeans attempting to consume drugs overseas. Festival-goers may also be lured by the cheaper prices and various types of drugs found overseas, he added.
Mr Victor Lye, who chairs the National Council Against Drug Abuse, said results from its Youth PerceptionSurvey found that older youth tend to adopt more liberal attitudes towards drugs. “Against the backdrop of more liberal attitudes towards drugs, availability of drugs overseas and more travel, Singaporeans must have a deep resolve to fight peer pressure and resist the temptation of taking drugs,” he said.
The CNB spokesperson reminded the public not to engage in any drug activities or experiment with any illicit drugs. “Many of these drugs may have been adulterated and may contain unknown substances in them. Anyone who abuses such illicit drugs may suffer serious health damage or even death, as seen in this unfortunate incident,” she said. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SIAU MING EN