Joseph Schooling, Amanda Lim public apologies 'send good message' that no one gets special favours in doing drugs, MPs say
- The public apologies by Joseph Schooling and Amanda Lim send “a good message" that taking drugs is not right, some MPs said
- They also noted that no one receives special treatment for taking drugs
- The National Council Against Drug Abuse said that it will step up efforts to prevent drug abuse in the country
- There needs to be deterrence and empathy to protect young people from developing an inclination towards drugs, it added
SINGAPORE — The public apologies by national swimmers Joseph Schooling and Amanda Lim “send a good message” that taking drugs is not right and that no one receives special treatment for doing so, Members of Parliament (MPs) said. In the meantime, the National Council Against Drug Abuse said that it will step up efforts to prevent drug abuse here.
Speaking to TODAY on Thursday (Sept 1), Mr Vikram Nair, MP for Sembawang Group Representation Constituency (GRC), noted that the swimmers were “upfront about it”.
He also said that it shows two things, the first being that “anyone can be tempted and go wrong”.
“The second is that we are all aligned (on the point) that this is not something that should be done.
“I think it sends a good message as well to remind everyone that no one gets special treatment.”
Mr Nair is also a member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Home Affairs and Law.
MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling said: “The fact that (Schooling) publicly acknowledged that it was not right can hopefully show that taking drugs should not be encouraged.
“He knows that it was not right and hopefully, from that point of view, people — young people especially — will not be encouraged to do drugs.”
Giving her take on the recent news, Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira said: "I think Singapore continues to stand strong in its fight against drugs, and the reaction of the nation and society to this news is testament to that."
Both Ms Tin and Ms Pereira are members of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Culture, Community and Youth.
Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam told reporters earlier on Thursday that it helps “tremendously" that Schooling and Lim had both apologised for what they did.
In response to TODAY’s queries, the National Council Against Drug Abuse said Schooling took responsibility and “had the courage to be publicly accountable for his actions”, and this deserves respect.
“The council supports Singapore's holistic zero-tolerance stance toward drugs. We know the damage that drugs can cause and we are a determined advocate for a drug-free Singapore,” it added.
“We need deterrence and empathy to protect our youth from developing an inclination towards drugs. As parents, educators, family, and friends, we are all involved in the effort to make Singapore a drug-free society.the National Council Against Drug Abuse”
As part of that effort, the council plans to “encourage Singaporeans to have greater understanding and more conversations on how we can better support those who may be vulnerable to the influence of drugs”.
“We need deterrence and empathy to protect our youth from developing an inclination towards drugs.
"As parents, educators, family, and friends, we are all involved in the effort to make Singapore a drug-free society,” the council said.
Schooling and Lim apologised after both received warnings from the authorities after the Central Narcotics Bureau investigated them for possible offences related to the consumption of cannabis.
Commenting on how harsh the punishments should be for young people who take drugs recreationally, Mr Nair said that Singapore needs to maintain its “firm stance on drugs”.
“As soon as you start loosening it, people will think it's okay and start going down the slippery slope.”
Agreeing, Ms Tin said there needs to be a balance between education, rehabilitation and deterrence.
“We cannot not have deterrence, but we must also be very active in pushing for education.”
Ms Pereira said: "What I think we will need to do more of is to send a clear message on Singapore’s anti-drug stance, and ensure that our people, including our young, are aware of the consequences of taking drugs."
Regarding the treatment of the swimmers, Mr Nair made reference to Mr Shanmugam’s Facebook post on Thursday and said that the swimmers have received fair treatment.
Similarly, Ms Pereira said: "The treatment… has been consistent with others, regardless of whether they are high-profile individuals or not.
“I do hope that as the both of them reflect on their error in judgement, they will emerge from this and go on to be good role models for young Singaporeans, both in terms of their sporting achievements and as individuals."