Central Narcotics Bureau

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Central Narcotics Bureau
Abbreviation CNB
Logo for Central Narcotics Bureau.jpg
Logo of the Central Narcotics Bureau
Agency overview
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency Singapore
General nature
Operational structure
Elected officers responsible
  • Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister & Coordinating Minister for National Security & Minister for Home Affairs
  • S Iswaran, Minister, Prime Minister's Office & Second Minister for Home Affairs & Second Minister for Trade and Industry
  • Masagos Zulkifli, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs & Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Agency executives
  • Ng Ser Song, Director
  • Sim Wai Meng, Deputy Director
Parent agency Ministry of Home Affairs
Operational Divisions
Staff Divisions/Units

The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB, Chinese: 肅毒局), established in 1971, is the primary drug enforcement agency in Singapore responsible for coordinating all matters pertaining to drug eradication.


Early years[edit]

Drug addiction in Singapore began with the consumption of opium back in the 19th and early 20th century. By 1848, the drug was abused by approximately 15000 Chinese addicts. This was a worrying statistic as it represented one out of every three adult Chinese settlers on the island. According to Richard Little, a British government surgeon of the Straits Settlement, opium addiction was exacting a heavy price on both the financial and physical resources of an abuser. Little even went as far as to recommend that there be a form of official control over the spread of opium smoking. Back then, opium was such a valuable commodity that it was once said that Singapore's economy would collapse if the drug were to be outlawed. However, Little's advice went unheeded and failed to affect the government's policy. By 1900, Singapore had seen an alarming rise in the number of licensed opium dens from 45 in 1848 to 550.

In 1906, Singapore saw its first anti-drug movement as several prominent community leaders felt that something had to be done regarding the sorry state of opium addicts. For the first time, they began to openly criticize the opium trade and rallied Chinese newspapers to their cause, so as to highlight the evil of opium consumption. Despite not being able to influence the British's administration policy and implement an all-out ban on opium, the movement achieved considerable success in altering people's perception of opium. It made people realize the dangers of smoking opium which could lead to prolonged suffering.

40 years later, the campaigning efforts of the Chinese community finally paid off as opium was outlawed. On 1 February 1946, the Opium and Chandu Proclamation was implemented and it criminalized the smoking of opium and possession of opium-smoking utensils. The subsequent years saw Dangerous Drugs Ordinance coming into force. The Ordinance, implemented in 1951, provided for stiffer penalties for pushers and ensured that addicts undergo treatment at the Opium Treatment Centre on St John's Island. Enforcement actions were also stepped up concurrently in order to weed out all opium activities. By the 1970s, there was a drastic fall in the number of addicts smoking opium[citation needed].


On 19 October 1971, Singapore's government announced that a new and dedicated agency, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB), would be set up within the Ministry of Home Affairs to fight the drug menace. Minister for Home Affairs (1970 – 1972) Wong Lin Ken said, "Such activities will be coordinated in the Central Narcotics Bureau. CNB also plans to build a capacity to educate the public in the dangers of drug abuse".

In 1973, Singapore's government introduced a new law to deal with drug traffickers, pushers and addicts – the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA). 15. The enactment of the MDA was intended to serve two-purposes, firstly, to consolidate the provisions of the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance 1951 (DDO) and Drugs (Prevention of Misuse) Act 1969 (DPMA) ; secondly, to more effectively deal with the worsening drug situation. New legislation was perceived to be necessary as Chua Sian Chin, then Minister for Health and Home Affairs, notes in Parliament in 1973. "The Dangerous Drugs Act (i.e DDO) was enacted about 21 years ago and the controls provided therein are grossly inadequate for the 70's, with the introduction of a host of new drugs of medical value if properly used." The need was exacerbated by Singapore's geographical location and development into a trading hub. The proximity to the Golden Triangle is another oft-cited justification for tough anti-drug laws[citation needed].

Present Day[edit]

In November 1993, the "Committee to Improve the Drug Situation in Singapore" was set up to look into the drug situation and it recommended a total and integrated approach to deal with the drug problem. The four main strategies are Preventive Drug Education, Rigorous Enforcement, Treatment and Rehabilitation for addicts, and finally, Aftercare and Continued Rehabilitation for ex-addicts to reintegrate them into society. In addition to conducting rigorous enforcement, CNB also took on the responsibility of preventive drug education.[1]


CNB's vision is to be a leading and dynamic law enforcement agency in the fight against drugs and to make Singapore drug-free.[2][unreliable source?]


The mission of the CNB is threefold:[2][unreliable source?]

  • To conduct vigorous enforcement against drug offenders.
  • To actively co-operate with local and foreign agencies on drug related matters.
  • To promote a drug-free lifestyle through preventive education and active engagement of the community.

Core values[edit]

CNB's core values are professionalism, integrity, dedication and courage.[2][unreliable source?]

Anti-drug strategy[edit]

The fight against drugs in Singapore involves a multifaceted approach based on the recommendations made by the Committee to Improve the Drug Situation in Singapore in November 1993. The committee chaired by then Parliamentary Secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee came up with four[which?] key strategies ranging from prevention to rehabilitation that would integrate the work of different government agencies for greater efficacy and efficiency.[citation needed]

  • Enforcement
  • Preventive drug education
  • Treatment and rehabilitation
  • Aftercare and continued rehabilitation

Out of the four key pillars, CNB has contributed significant amount of resources on the first two strategies. The bureau conducts vigorous enforcement and is also the lead agency for preventive drug education.


CNB conducts regular islandwide operations involving the concurrent mobilisation of resources and manpower across Singapore to conduct checks against drug abusers and ex-drug abusers who may have relapsed. Other than islandwide operations, CNB conducts operations targeted at specific areas where intelligence sources indicate that drug activity is taking place.

In a 2010 press release, CNB indicated that it has doubled the number of joint operations conducted at the checkpoints. These operations were carried out together with other Home Team partners such as the Singapore Police Force and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA). There is also greater focus on intensifying inland operations by extending their duration in order to send a deterrent message to drug offenders.

In May 2011, CNB conducted an islandwide anti-drug operation which lasted 48 hours – twice as long as is normally carried out.[3][unreliable source?] The most recent drugs bust arrested 3 drug traffickers with 40g of cannabis seized in October 2014.[4]

Preventive drug education[edit]

CNB's Preventive Education Unit (PEU) was formed in 1992 to focus solely on the formation and implementation of preventive drug education (PDE) programmes in Singapore. Singapore's PDE approach is based on the theory of social inoculation which proposes that exposure to persuasive messages will reduce susceptibility to subsequent negative persuasions. Given the strong social influence in drug consumption, CNB's PDE efforts are centered on helping youths to resist temptations to try drugs. The bureau promotes a drug-free lifestyle by engaging schools and the community as strategic partners in the fight against drugs. In addition, CNB is also proactive in the planning and implementation of innovative and effective programmes to spread the anti-drug message.

The highlight of CNB's PDE efforts is its annual nationwide anti-drug dance competition, DanceWorks!. The competition aims to promote the anti-drug message and encourage youths to lead a healthy and drug-free lifestyle. In recent years, the event has seen greater participation from schools with more dancers coming forward to showcase their talent. In 2011, the performances were recorded and aired on the TV channel Okto for publicity and to attract more youths to participate in the event. Besides the dance segments, students who were non-dancers could also participate in pre-event competitions such as the "Anti-Drug Stick on Tattoo Design" (2009) and "Best T-shirt Contest" (2011).



The estimated expenditure for the 2011 financial year was $88,599,700.[5] This amount represented a 2.4% decrease compared to the expenditure in the 2010 financial year. In the 2011 financial year estimate for budget allocation, the Bureau's force stood at 104 senior narcotics officers (SNOs) and 568 narcotics officers (NOs).[6] In addition, there were civilians in the bureau under the Home Affairs Senior Executive (HASEs) and Management Support Officers (MSOs) schemes. The total number of officers working in the bureau was 768.


The Bureau, together with other Home Team Agencies, often holds career fairs in order to reach out to prospective officers who intend to join either the uniformed or civilian career track. In 2010, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a press release indicating its intention to recruit 2000 officers spread across different agencies and departments.[7] In conjunction with this target, a career fair was subsequently held at the Marina Square Central Atrium. There were displays and demonstrations of various operational capabilities and equipment from Prisons, SCDF, CNB, ICA and SPF.

Special Task Force[edit]

Special Task Force
Active 1997 – Present
Country Singapore Singapore
Branch Central Narcotics Bureau
Type Special Forces
Role Domestic Law Enforcement
Size Classified
Garrison/HQ Classified
Nickname(s) STF

CNB maintains a small specialized unit namely the Special Task Force (STF) which carry out high risk operations (such as vehicle pursuits and conducting house raids), forced entry and performing round-the-clock surveillance of syndicate activities since 1997.

Little of the STF is known, as information on the task force, such as the identities of its members, the number of officers in the unit or where it is based, is classified. However, officers must have at least two years of experience in CNB to sign up. To be selected, they have to undergo a battery of physical, shooting and psychometric tests, and an interview.

After being selected, officers have to receive nine months of training to ensure they are well equipped with skills such as in vehicle interception, close-quarter restraint techniques and conducting a forced entry into premises.


CNB announced that an error was found in the statistical computation of drug abuser arrest statistics for the period 2008 to 2010 after migrating to a new IT system. The amended and updated data reflects higher numbers of drug abusers for that period. CNB stressed that the mistake in the computation did not affect its enforcement efforts.[8]

In 2012, the then chief of the CNB was suspended accruing from internal investigations involving corrupt practice.[9]


CNB officers are trained in the use of, and issued, the 5-shot Taurus Model 85 revolver as their standard issue sidearm, same as the Singapore Police Force. Officers are also trained and issued with expandable batons for less than lethal self-defense options, bulletproof vests and handcuffs for restrains.

For Special Task Force, they have the access to battering rams and electric cutters for forced entry and the Heckler & Koch USP semi-auto pistol as their firearm.[citation needed]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c "CNB — About us". Central Narcotics Bureau. Retrieved 27 May 2011. [unreliable source?]
  3. ^ CNB News Release 2011. "Intensive 48-hour operations lead to arrest of nine traffickers and seizure of drugs worth $150,000". Retrieved 3 June 2011. [unreliable source?]
  4. ^ "3 arrested in drugs bust after 4-hour stand off". AsiaOne. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
  5. ^ FY2011 Singapore Budget. "EXPENDITURE ESTIMATES BY HEAD OF EXPENDITURE". http://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/budget_2011/revenue_expenditure/attachment/16%20MHA%20AEE2011.pdf. 
  6. ^ FY2011 Singapore Budget. "Annex to the Expenditure Estimates" (PDF). Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  7. ^ Ministry of Home Affairs Press Release. "The Home Team Seeks to Recruit 2,000 Officers This Year". Retrieved 3 June 2011. 
  8. ^ "CNB reports error in drug arrests". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 24 September 2011. 
  9. ^ "SCDF & CNB chiefs suspended amid CPIB probe". Channel NewsAsia. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 

External links[edit]