Vice explodes in Singapore

Sex, drugs and rock & roll are soaring to new heights in Singapore – at least the first two anyway.

The red-light districts are teeming with ladies of the night, many of whom are the not-so-talented from our neighbouring countries. Reports even suggest that these streetwalkers are so numerous that they are spilling over into the avenues of our HDB estates.

Alarmed? Wait till the casino comes to town…

More than 5,000 foreign sex workers caught in S’pore
22 Jan 08

Singapore arrested more than 5,000 foreign prostitutes last year but it is unrealistic to expect vice to be eliminated, the Home Affairs Minister has told parliament.

Wong Kan Seng was responding to a question from an MP about efforts to curb “rampant gambling and prostitution” in Singapore’s red-light Geylang district.

“The vice situation in Singapore is under control,” Wong said in a written response released Tuesday.

He said police across the city-state last year conducted 950 vice-related operations, up from 890 the previous year. They arrested 5,400 foreign sex workers, a 25 percent increase over 2006, he said.

Despite its reputation as a straight-laced society, prostitution is legal in Singapore, where licensed brothels operate in designated areas such as Geylang. Pimping and public solicitation are illegal.
Foreign women working voluntarily in the sex trade cannot be arrested unless they are caught offering their services out in the street or violate immigration and other laws.

Wong, who is also a deputy prime minister, said installation of closed-circuit television cameras in Geylang has helped deter solicitation.

He said daily police operations to target gambling in the back alleys of Geylang led to 280 arrests last year and an improvement in the situation.

“Illegal gambling in Geylang is not rampant,” Wong said.

“But I should add that it is not realistic to expect vice to be totally eliminated,” he said, particularly as the city-state seeks to promote tourism.

“Among those who come, there will be a very small number who enter under the pretext of social visits but engage in vice activities. This is the reality which Singaporeans should face up to.

Heroin-linked arrests jump by 600%
Teh Joo Lin
The Straits Times
16 Jan 08

670 cases in all, the highest figure since 2002; more than 40% were ex-Subutex users

Heroin arrests shot up again last year after hitting an all-time low in 2005, going by figures released yesterday.

The number of arrests linked to its use reached 670 last year, a six-fold jump over the previous year and the highest since 2002. The white powder was the drug of choice for three in 10 drug abusers nabbed.

At a briefing yesterday on last year’s drug scene, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) disclosed that 2,166 people had been arrested for drug use last year. It offered two reasons for the jump in heroin Use.

First, the increase could simply have been due to the fact that heroin was now cheaper than Subutex.

Subutex was introduced in 2002 as a prescription drug to wean heroin addicts off their habit. The following year, the number of heroin abusers – which had already been dropping since the mid-1990s – fell to just 567, the first time since the 1970s that the figure was below 1,000.

But addicts began abusing Subutex, forcing the authorities to reclassify it as a controlled drug in August 2006. This meant that people caught using or trafficking in Subutex could attract similar harsh penalties to those facing heroin abusers: long jail terms and caning.

Over 40 per cent or 285 of the heroin addicts nabbed were former Subutex users who returned to ‘chasing the dragon’.

But CNB deputy director S. Vijakumar called this a ‘limited’ switch back to heroin. The 285 heroin addicts who were former Subutex users made up only 6 per cent of the 5,000 known Subutex users, he said. He pointed out that some addicts could have gone back to heroin because heroin cost $50 per 0.2g straw against Subutex’s street price of $120 per 8mg tablet.

The second reason offered for the rise in heroin-linked arrests: the release of about 4,000 hardcore drug abusers from prison over the years. They could have influenced each other or drawn other people into taking up the habit again.

‘We can’t make it impossible for them to fraternise and meet each other,’ said Mr Vijakumar.

Nine out of 10 heroin addicts caught last year were repeat abusers. For more than 60 per cent of them, the return to the habit will put them behind bars for long terms.

The CNB seized 17.2kg of heroin in raids last year, about three times more than in 2006. It also arrested 769 traffickers, while only 590 were nabbed in 2006. But Mr Vijakumar stressed that the rise in the supply of heroin was not a response to higher demand for the drug. Rather, he said, it came from syndicates bringing in the drugs ‘in the hope of finding buyers’.

He said that there had been reports of bumper harvests of opium poppies in the region. This could swell the heroin supply, but the CNB will continue to be vigilant, he added.

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