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K. Shanmugam challenges other countries to show a model that works better. Reuters

Singapore is adamantly sticking to its guns over its tough stance on drugs, saying that there are no plans to ease its approach. "We want a drug-free Singapore, not a drug-tolerant Singapore," Minister for Home Affairs and Law, K.Shanmugam said.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 20 April, he challenged other countries to show a better model that delivers and Singapore would be willing to change its current approach. He said he was not moved by the rhetoric he had heard at the meetings, noting that the country's policies have created a safe and secure environment for its citizens.

Legalising and giving abusers drugs is the easier option. But not the better one.
- Singapore's Home Affairs and Law Minister, K Shanmugam

"We are not very impressed with rhetoric alone. Good speeches are one thing. Enjoy safety and security, to the level I have identified - letting your 10-year-old child take public transport alone - that is different," he told world leaders.

"I say to anyone with a different view - come forward. I am prepared to compare our experiences with any city that you choose. Show us a model that works better, that delivers a better outcome for citizens, and we will consider changing. If that cannot be done, then don't ask us to change," Shanmugam added.

There is a growing rift among countries on how to tackle drugs use. Some are sticking to continuing with their hardline stance while others are switching to an approach known as harm reduction which effectively concedes that a drug-free world is impossible and therefore policies should be designed to minimise the harm associated with drug use.

That is not all, some countries are also seeking to decriminalise the use of certain types of drugs. Colorado and Washington are the first two states in the US to approve laws that legalise the use of marijuana.

Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia have lobbied for a more "humane solution" to the global war on drugs. Singapore however said that there a middle road between "locking everyone up, treating them as criminals, and feeding them with drugs."

"It is possible to work with drug abusers to rehabilitate them. This is difficult and resource-intensive. But because every life is important, we do that. Legalising and giving abusers drugs is the easier option. But not the better one," he added.

He said that a parent would not voluntarily give drugs to their teenage children, although they may accept it. "So let's be clear about the harmful effects of drugs."

He insisted that every country has the right to choose the approach that works best. "For us, the choice is clear. We want a drug-free Singapore, not a drug-tolerant Singapore," the Minister added.