Our first guest speaker for the new Cendekiawan Lestari Series (CLS) season is Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, appointed Minister of State, overseeing both the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of National Development. His illustrious career spans diverse governmental sectors: education, social and family development, transport, and health. A/P Muhammad Faishal obtained a Master’s degree and was awarded the Real Estate Developers Association of Singapore (REDAS). He received the NUS-Overseas Graduate Scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in Management Sciences at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. A/P Muhammad Faishal has been a Member of Parliament (MP) since 2006 and remains dedicated to his constituents as the incumbent MP for Nee Soon GRC.
At the heart of Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim’s efforts lies his pioneering initiatives to rehabilitate offenders and ensure the seamless reintegration of ex-offenders into Singaporean society. This dedication was apparent as he shared insights during his lecture at the twelfth instalment of the Malay Heritage Foundation’s (MHF) CLS, titled “The Singapore Malay/Muslim Community: Preventing Offending and Re-Offending Behavior – Efforts, Successes, and Challenges.”
The event’s emcee, Farah Allisha, warmly welcomed the audience, and then MHF Chairman and Moderator, Dr. Norshahril Saat, opened the session. This CLS session was supported by Wisma Geylang Serai (WGS).
MHF Chairman Dr. Norshahril Saat gave an opening address and introduced the first CLS 2023 speaker, Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim. (Credit: MHF)
Saturday, 22nd July 2023 – A/P Muhammad Faishal initiated the session by discussing Singapore’s drug situation since 2000. His data revealed a slight decline of approximately 10% in drug-related arrests between 2000 and 2022. A/P Muhammad Faishal delved into the ‘Harms of Drug Abuse,’ highlighting that Singapore’s drug issue carries pervasive and far-reaching negative consequences that impact individuals and society.
Following the introduction to Singapore’s drug problem, A/P Muhammad Faishal continued elaborating on Singapore’s Harm Prevention Strategy. This strategy employs a three-pronged approach targeting drug demand and supply, robust enforcement through stringent laws, Preventive Drug Education (PDE), and evidence-based rehabilitation and aftercare to aid former drug abusers in leading drug-free lives. He also detailed the government’s efforts to reintegrate former drug offenders, including the Singapore Prison Service’s (SPS) rehabilitation system. A/P Muhammad Faishal explained Singapore’s throughcare approach, emphasizing the continuous and coordinated efforts to address offenders’ vulnerabilities and needs within prisons, ensuring a seamless continuation upon reintegration into the community after release.
A/P Muhammad Faishal introducing his session topic. (Credit: MHF)
Further, he explained the in-care phase, outlining SPS’s programs that address offenders’ prosocial thinking, economic capital, and social capital. These collaborative programs, such as work, religious, family, and befriending initiatives, are offered in partnership with various community entities to provide emotional and spiritual support.
Discussing the reintegration and rehabilitation of offenders, A/P Muhammad Faishal emphasised the importance of a robust partnership with a diverse cross-section of the community for successful rehabilitation and reintegration. He shared collaborations with 40 volunteer organizations offering rehabilitative programs, 12 religious organisations providing spiritual and emotional support, and eight organizations engaging in befriending programs, all complementing SPS’s efforts.
A/P Muhammad Faishal shared FITRAH’s rehabilitation programmes as part of Singapore’s various Community-Based Programmes (CBP). (Credit: MHF)
A/P Muhammad Faishal also highlighted Community Corrections as a crucial element in the rehabilitation journey, elucidating its step-down approach and various Community-Based Programs (CBP). These programs facilitate real-life rehabilitation, increasing the chances of successful reintegration by providing a supportive ecosystem for offenders. He detailed the programs offered by different organizations, including befriending programs, job placement initiatives, and career coaching with Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG), among others. The combined efforts of the community and the government have contributed to maintaining a low and stable two-year recidivism rate. However, while improving, the Malay recidivism rate remains higher than the overall rate, indicating an overrepresentation of the Malay group in the general population.
To address the overrepresentation of the Malay group in drug abuse statistics, A/P Muhammad Faishal shared strategies for preventing offending and re-offending within the Malay-Muslim community. He stressed the need for culturally nuanced programs developed in collaboration with community partners, allowing for more targeted and effective interventions. A/P Muhammad Faishal cited examples such as the “Dadah itu Haram” campaign and the Family and Inmates Throughcare Assistance Haven (FITRAH), which offers a structured religious program for offenders.
A/P Muhammad Faishal sharing on the importance of continuing and supporting community efforts as well as how the audience can do so. (Credit: MHF)
A/P Muhammad Faishal concluded by presenting progress updates on the two-year recidivism rate improvement among Malay offenders and a reduction in new Malay drug abusers. However, he expressed concern about the persistent overrepresentation of Malays in drug abuse statistics, urging continued community efforts to support the cause.
A/P Muhammad Faishal (left) answering a question asked by a member of the audience during the Q&A session with the moderator, Dr. Norshahril Saat (right). (Credit: MHF)
Following the presentation, a Q&A segment allowed attendees to engage with A/P Muhammad Faishal. Additionally, FITRAH’s ex-offenders shared personal experiences, underscoring the positive impact of the programs on their lives. CLS is a platform to feature ideas and perspectives from prominent figures and thought leaders in the Singapore Malay community. Close to 40 participants attended the first CLS session in 2023.
MHF Chairman Dr. Norshahril Saat (right) presented a token of appreciation to A/P Muhammad Faishal (left) at the end of the CLS session. (Credit: MHF)
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