Left: Loh Jia Seng, Team Member at Enforcement ‘G' Division, gathers evidence for drug-related arrests and submits investigation papers that aid in the prosecution of drug offenders in Court. He is also involved in the rehabilitation of ex-drug abusers under the Drug Supervision Regime, helping them to stay drug-free.
Right: Subashiyni Ramakrishnan is Head of Major Investigations II at Central Narcotics Bureau. Her huge portfolio includes supervising, managing and guiding drug investigations, ensuring evidence is watertight to be presented in court, and maintaining a high standard for case investigations as well as officers' work environment and processes.
"It's nothing like a nine-to-five deskbound job," said Loh Jia Seng, Team Member of Enforcement ‘G' Division. "Every day is different. Every arrest, every case… there is a unique story behind it."
Subashiyni Ramakrishnan, Head Major Investigations II, nodded in agreement. "You feel an immense sense of satisfaction and fulfilment when you work for the cause", she added. "Most officers can attest to the fact that we work as a team in contributing to society and the community to keep it drug-free."
They have been with the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) for seven and nine years respectively and have never once thought of leaving. These insights show why – working at CNB is fulfilling on multiple levels as officers are engaged in a dynamic, fast-paced setting with ample job rotation opportunities, and deeply inspired by their mission to contribute to the community.
The 3 E's
"The drug problem is a complex one. There are many factors that drive a person to take drugs, such as background and mental state," described Subashiyni. In response, CNB adopts an equally multi-faceted approach to fight drugs.
Officers proudly uphold the 3 E's, Enforcement, Education and Engagement in their mission. Subashiyni, who has experienced diverse positions during her career with CNB, described how the 3 E's permeate CNB's work. She has "pounded the ground" for arrests, formulated new drug policies, and pioneered Indian Community Engagement programmes for the Bothaiporulai Ethirthu Nirpom (We Stand United Against Drugs) campaign, culminating in a wealth of experience useful in her current position as Head of Investigations. Her current role is to supervise, manage and guide investigation officers during their investigations and prepare the cases for prosecution in Court.
Her role is an aspiration for Jia Seng, who is currently an Enforcement Officer effecting duties of arrests, raids and Supervision Orders. His job scope includes gathering intelligence and conducting field operations that lead to the arrest of drug offenders.
"But we don't want it to come to this stage," said Jia Seng, speaking of enforcement as a last resort. "Prevention is always better than cure."
And so, connecting with youths is a big priority for CNB, with Preventive Drug Education (PDE) as the first line of defence against drugs. CNB works with parents, counsellors and educators, and equips them with information and toolkits that can help them guide the youths. CNB also conducts anti-drug talks, skits and exhibitions; to reach out to youths more effectively, CNB has started to leverage augmented-reality technology in its roadshows to schools. Jia Seng is one of the presenters for school talks, and relishes the opportunity to speak frankly with youths about the dangers of drugs.
Subashiyni is proud of what they've achieved. "We've really developed and advanced our PDE work. We've gone out on social media. It's not just a top-down approach," she concluded.
Engaging ex-drug abusers as equals is of special importance to Jia Seng. He described how CNB officers serve as the first port of call for their drug supervisees and must engage them at their level to better help them. He shows empathy while keeping a firm hand to ensure they stay clear of drugs.
The 3 E's aptly describe the multi-faceted work of CNB and the role of its officers to better realise a drug-free Singapore.
Opportunity abroad and at home
Subashiyni did a stint at the Permanent Mission of Singapore in Vienna, Austria, where Singapore emerged as a "moderate voice" with valuable opinions on drug law and policy. "[International participants] realised that we wanted to be constructive, that we wanted to present a solution that would work for everybody."
"I was in the thick of things," she remembered. "We were negotiating drug laws, policy papers, and so on. We needed a strong position, to ensure that our laws would not be changed as a result of pressure from international movements."
She counts her stint at the Permanent Mission of Singapore in Vienna as one of her greatest personal achievements, possible only through CNB and its tireless effort to rally the international community. "I never imagined that joining CNB would lead me to Vienna, but there I was!" she exclaimed in recollection.
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For Jia Seng, his personal achievement lies closer to home. Jia Seng joined CNB as a Sergeant and had plans to further his education in the course of his career. CNB recognised his ambitions and good work, and has awarded him a full-time sponsorship to pursue a Degree in Sociology at Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
"Our Bureau never gives up on us," assured Jia Seng. "If you want to do something for your professional or personal development, they will be supportive in every step of the way."
He further recalled: "The HR officers called me every year, asking if I wanted to apply, and forwarded me information on the schemes and initiatives which I qualified for." This is part of CNB's proactive efforts in offering sponsorship opportunities to serving officers.
CNB always has its officers' backs, so it is no wonder Subashiyni and Jia Seng both referred to their teammates as "family".
The Path to a Drug-free SG
Having spent nearly a decade in CNB, Subashiyni and Jia Seng have some idea of the necessary qualities for a CNB officer.
"Dedication, because it's not an easy job," began Subashiyni. "So you have to have a very positive mindset, to go through these situations every day."
Similarly, Jia Seng advocated an open mind and professionalism: "You need to be able to conduct yourself professionally, even under challenging circumstances. So that people can rest assured that what we do is based on fairness, without bias."
At the end of the day, both officers emphasised the most important quality to join CNB – passion. A career with CNB is a place on the frontlines, fighting to eliminate the scourge of drugs from Singapore. For those who believe in this cause, CNB is the place to grow, to contribute, and to realise your passion.