What does it take for Singapore to be a ‘narco’ state like the Netherlands? Apparently not much.

Singapore, Drug, Netherlands, Crime, Trafficking, Illegal, Penalty, People, Trade, Death, Economy, Grow

You know the rule of law is being threatened when journalists covering the Marengo trial were asked to sign agreements not to name judges or prosecutors, for fear of them being targeted. This is the Netherlands.

“I call The Netherlands a ‘narco-state 2.0’,” says Jan Struijs, chairman of the Nederlandse PolitieBond police union. “We aren’t Mexico, with 14,000 dead bodies, but in our parallel economy, there is an attack on public order and unprecedented numbers of people with personal security — politicians, judges, prosecutors, police staff, journalists — because there is still a serious risk from organised crime.”

The massive black economy of illegal drugs

According to Swedish broadcaster SVT, the black economy of illegal drugs is so massive, it has impacted several parts of the official economy of the Netherlands, including house prices.

59% of Dutch citizens believe the country is now a narco-state whose economy is dependent on the trade in illegal drugs.

Companies that operate legitimate businesses have been taken over by drug-dealing criminals.

Criminals develop into wealthy entrepreneurs who establish themselves in the hospitality industry,  market, middle class and travel agencies according to the Netherlands Police Union. 

Along with growing influence is spiraling violence and crimes.

The Marengo is just the latest in a series of organised crime trials to shake the Netherlands.
 
In the Marengo trial, 17 men stood accused of varying degrees of involvement in six murders, four attempted murders and preparing for six other assassinations between 2015 and 2017.
 
Dirk Wiersum, lawyer for a crown prosecution witness in the Marengo trial was shot dead in front of his wife outside their home in Amsterdam in September 2019.
 
In July of the following year, prominent Dutch crime reporter Peter R de Vries who had agreed to represent the crown witness was shot in the head on a busy central Amsterdam street. He was critically injured and died nine days later.
 
These killings were meant to intimidate and send fear. 
 
Even the Dutch PM Mark Rutte has got a new security detail after Dutch police said he was at risk of an attack from organised crime syndicates. 

How did the Netherlands end up in this state?

A tolerant approach to drugs and good infrastructure.

One report says the Netherlands has in a sense created the perfect environment for the drugs trade to flourish.

Its tolerant approach towards drug use and its low penalties for drug-related crimes have contributed to the country’s position as a top producer for illegal drugs, and a hub for the global narcotics flow.

Synthetic drug production in the Netherlands generates €19 billion in a year.

Criminals skilfully use the efficient ports, good roads, and strong financial and digital infrastructure of the country and turned it turned it into the central distribution hub for marijuana, ecstasy, and cocaine.

Many illegal practices get mixed with the legal activities taking place here, making it easier for criminals to stay under the radar.

Lessons for Singaporeans

Like the Netherlands, Singapore has great infrastructure including digital and financial infrastructure. Singapore is also very well connected to the rest of the world. It is the crossroad and gateway to almost every part of the world. In this sense, Singapore has an extremely attractive environment for the illegal drug trade to flourish. 

All that is left for Singapore to go down the road towards being a narco state is for 2 other factors to be fulfilled: a tolerant approach towards  offences and corruption. 

Fortunately, Singapore is still largely a corruption-free society where corruption is dealt with and not swept under the carpet. 

Unlike the Netherlands, Singapore takes a very tough approach towards drug trafficking with the death penalty as the ultimate punishment. 

Local activists campaigning against the death penalty for drug trafficking

In a Facebook post, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that there is a small group of activists here who ‘take foreign money’ and campaign against the death penalty for drug traffickers.

As the minister did not name this small group of activists, we do not know who they are but we do observe a small group that is always at the front whenever a drug trafficker is about to be hanged. We observe too that a page called Wake Up Singapore is a fierce campaigner against the death penalty. The same page had in times past, also promoted the use of Cannabis as being a safe drug with medicinal uses. 

Does being compassionate to drug traffickers help the poor?

Singaporeans must stand firm against drug abuse and continue to strongly support the death penalty for drug trafficking beyond a certain quantity of drugs. 

The argument that one must be kinder to drug traffickers because they had turned to drug trafficking because of poverty simply does not hold when we look at Latin America.

There are many poor people there living in poverty. And drug laws are lenient. What are the results? Did the lenient drug laws help the poor?

No, they did not. Instead, organised crimes flourish, the drug trade grows and grows. And violence? You know.
 
Over the past year in Guayaquil, the biggest city of once-tranquil Ecuador, an explosion took place that blew the front off two modest houses, killing at least five people. Two bodies were left hanging from a bridge over a busy road. At least 187 inmates murdered, some decapitated, in two prison massacres. That’s according to a Financial Times report. 
 
In Uruguay, the “Switzerland of Latin America” so to speak, 14 bodies appeared over a 10-day period this year. Three had been burnt and one dismembered.
 
Behind this growing violence in Latin America’s smaller and once peaceful states is the booming cocaine trade. 
https://www.facebook.com/SingaporeMatters/photos/5416626278423721

In conclusion

Singapore, with its great infrastructure and being the crossroad and gateway to the world, is an attractive place for drug cartels to expand and grow their booming drug trade. All it takes for Singapore to go down the road to becoming a narco state is for attitudes towards drug abuse and trafficking to change to a tolerant one, and for corruption to rise

Singaporeans have every responsibility to maintain a strong stance against drug trafficking and abuse.

The way to help people out of poverty is to keep crime rate low so that there is a stable society where people can make an honest living without living in fear, create pathways for people of different talents to develop themselves and flourish.

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