'No clear evidence' that Schooling and Lim were currently taking drugs: Shanmugam
Law Minister K. Shanmugam has responded to perceptions that national swimmers Joseph Schooling and Amanda Lim were let off lightly in the aftermath of the investigations into the pair for the consumption of cannabis.
On Tuesday (Aug 30), it was revealed that Schooling, the country's only Olympic gold medallist, confessed to consuming cannabis when in Vietnam for the SEA Games in May.
The 27-year-old has been dealt with by the Ministry of Defence as he is undergoing National Service and the incident occurred while he was on short-term disruption due to the Hanoi Games.
National agency Sport Singapore stated that Lim, 29, was issued a stern warning by the Central Narcotics Bureau under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
Both tested negative for controlled drugs but issued apologies for their mistakes.
Mr Shanmugam had, on Wednesday night, said that both Schooling and Lim had been treated in the same way as others. He had also called on Singaporeans to give the pair "support and backing" as they seek to recover from the episode.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, he again addressed the perception that "Amanda was let off with a warning, and no action was taken against Schooling by CNB, given our tough drug policies".
He wrote: "In the cases of Schooling and Amanda, there was no clear evidence that they were currently taking drugs - the evidence was inconclusive. Their urine tests were negative. (They were, however, honest and admitted to having taken drugs in the past.)
"Amanda had a drug utensil - and she was warned for that.
"Schooling, based on the law, was handed over to Mindef, since he is a full time NSF. Mindef decided on the steps to be taken, and has announced what it has decided."
The minister also reiterated the Government's position, which is to treat "pure drug abusers as persons who really need help".
He explained: "We are very tough on drug traffickers and those involved in the drug trade. That includes imposing capital punishment.
"This is in contrast to how we treat pure drug abusers, who haven't committed any other offence. Since 2019, our approach is to treat such pure drug abusers, as persons who really need help. They will not be imprisoned or have a criminal record (even though consumption is an offence).
"Instead, we take steps to help them rehabilitate - which could include DRC (Drug Rehabilitation Centre) or supervision. This would help them to reintegrate into society more quickly and effectively.
"Our approach: People might have taken drugs, years ago, or months ago. We don't send people to DRC, or even give warnings, in the absence of current drug-taking / positive test."
But he also reminded drug abusers that consuming drugs overseas is still a crime, adding: "If there is clear evidence of current use of drugs, then CNB will take steps, regardless of whether the consumption took place in Singapore or overseas. So don't assume that if you consume drugs overseas, you will be let off with a warning."