Home Affairs Minister Shanmugam Responds to Joseph Schooling Drug Saga

Upon hearing the news that Joseph Schooling and Amanda Lim—two talented swimmers with achievements to their names—have admitted to consuming cannabis, most Singaporeans defaulted into one of three settings: disappointment, sympathy, or apathy.

Disappointment, because oh how the great have fallen.

Cue the dramatics of how Schooling’s family raised him better than this, or how Schooling and Lim should have known better than to contravene the nation’s strict drug abuse laws while representing Singapore on the world sporting stage.

Then there’s sympathy in those who point out that Schooling has been dealt a bad hand recently, like the multiple injuries and the recent passing of his father, who has been a steady rock and supporter of his swimming career.

The rest of us… Glanced at the headline and promptly forgot about it.

A Word From K Shanmugam

On Wednesday (31 Aug), Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam decided to give his two cents about the situation.

In the Facebook post, Shanmugam wrote: “These swimmers have worked hard, given much. They brought glory to Singapore.”


Amanda Lim has been representing Team Singapore since 2007. She has won 11 gold medals at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and is a bronze medallist in the Asian Swimming Championships.

“Schooling in particular scaled heights which I never imagined, Olympic Gold and that too in swimming,” said Shanmugam, expounding on how Schooling had competed against legends in the finals and came out ahead despite the odds.

For the 2022 Hanoi SEA Games, Schooling also clinched two golds and one bronze at the swimming events he competed in.

While it is only fair that Schooling and Amanda are being treated the same way as other offenders, since the law must be impartial, Shanmugam reminds Singaporeans that we should not be focusing on their mistakes alone, but also the glory that these two individuals have brought.

They still have a lot of potential.

He urges Singaporeans to “give them our support and backing” so they may rise up again from their mistakes.

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On Cannabis Consumption

Without a shadow of a doubt, Singapore has one of the strictest drug laws in the world.

For Singapore’s stance on cannabis, you only need to look at the Central Narcotics Bureau’s website, which writes, “Cannabis is clearly addictive and harmful, and there is no scientific evidence of the safety and efficacy of raw cannabis use… Decriminalisation and legalisation of cannabis is not the way to go.”

There are actually studies out there which show the benefits of medical marijuana—like how it can help with nerve pain or can act as a muscle relaxant—but that is beside the point.

For further information on how Singapore vilifies cannabis, you can watch this two-minute video released by the CNB here, which is filled with many hilarious and questionable facts:

According to the Misuse of Drugs Act, possession or consumption of cannabis may result in a prison term of up to 10 years or $20,000 fine, or both.

For the illegal trafficking of cannabis, an offender may face death penalty, though that is dependent on the amount of cannabis trafficked.

The main reason why Schooling and Lim were given a stern warning was because all Singaporeans and Permanent Residents who are found to have consumed controlled drugs outside of Singapore will be liable to the same penalties as the offence committed in Singapore.

In short, just stay away from drugs.

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Featured Image: Facebook (Team Singapore)