SINGAPORE – A modern barber shop may not be the most obvious ally for Singaporean officials who want to bring their anti-drug message to the community, but that's what DeepCuts Barber's does.
Founder Faiz Ismail has been involved with the Dadah Itu Haram anti-drug campaign since the beginning of 2018, distributing warranties in his shop and participating in a commercial showing that there is life for people coming out of their drug past.
More than that, though, DeepCuts Barber's is a "men's cave" designed to make those who come to cut hair relax and maybe even open up and share the difficulties they face – drug-related or do not.
"We use pastel colors, we put music like jazz, blues … it's like a classic barbershop, but run by a young man with an old soul," said the 27-year-old boy on the sidelines of the Central Narcotics. Mesa (CNB) Workplan seminar on Friday (May 24).
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For those with a history of drug offenses, they may be more comfortable – and less defensive – talking to a colleague like the barber, he explained.
For example, a regular client he has seen in the past two years would share how difficult it was for him to find a job, and how his parents would see if he does regular drug testing, reports Faiz.
"While others may see him in a certain way (like a former drug offender), I see him as a normal guy having a haircut," he said.
It helps him understand what these drug law offenders are going through as he experienced some of these challenges when he was younger.
Ultimately, this is Mr. Faiz's way of giving back to the Malay-Muslim community, which makes up the bulk of its client base, particularly the young.
"I hope to have a positive impact on youth," he shared. "I started out of nowhere (where I am today) … it's important that they have someone to admire."
"PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN HEALING"
The CNB is also forming partnerships with polytechnic students to bring preventive drug education to more people.
Seal No to Drugs's reality-based application, developed in collaboration with eight senior students at Nanyang Polytechnic's School of Interactive and Digital Media, allows players to experience the physiological effects of drug abuse such as hallucinations, loss of balance and coordination.
"This immersive gaming experience helps to improve young people's perception and perception of drug abuse, and it is hoped that this will encourage them to stay away from drugs," said the CNB, adding that the application will be available on devices iOS and Android through June this year.
Young people are the demographic authorities are focused, since more of them are being caught abusing drugs. According to CNB statistics, of the 1,366 new drug users arrested in 2018, about two-thirds (64 percent) were under the age of 30.
"It's better to be safe than sorry," Foreign and Law Minister K Shanmugam said in his speech Friday, adding that preventive drug education is the first line of defense against drugs in Singapore.