Pubdate: Tue, 11 Dec 2007
Source: Shanghai Daily (China)
Copyright: 2007 nghai Daily Company


IT is Friday night. Ling, a bank analyst in Armani  heels, pops a blue
pill into her mouth and dances to  the thumping beat.

Later she heads to a house party with her friends where  they snort
cocaine off tabletops.

Singapore's party drug scene used to be the domain of  high-flying
foreign bankers and other expatriates who  would take ecstasy and
snort cocaine in defiance of the  city state's punitive drug laws.

But these days the drug scene for foreigners is not as  pronounced as
among well-to-do locals in a country  which has the world's
fastest-growing number of high  net-worth individuals, totalling some
67,000 in 2006.

With one gram of methamphetamine costing S$300  (US$207), it is an
expensive habit that not everyone  can feed.

Singapore authorities say drug use is low, but  anecdotal evidence
tells of the emergence of an  underground party drug scene mostly at
night clubs  frequented by the wealthy.

Singapore is Asia's second-richest country, with a 2006  GDP per
capita of $29,000, on a par with Italy and  Spain. The booming
economy, driven by manufacturing and  financial services, has made the
city-state a  playground for the rich.

And with money to throw around, some of these rich  Singaporeans are
spending it on drugs smuggled from  neighbouring Indonesia, Malaysia
and the Philippines.

They are taking a big risk.

In Singapore, anyone caught carrying more than 15 grams  of heroin, 30
grams of cocaine, 500 grams of cannabis  or 250 grams of
methamphetamines faces a mandatory  death sentence by hanging.

"There are definitely a lot of people doing drugs in  the party scene,
but it doesn't get reported," said  Ling, who would only give her first name.

With its borders closely monitored, it is not clear how  drugs enter
Singapore. But former gang members say some  drugs are brought in on
boats from Indonesian islands,  or smuggled from Malaysia.

According to Singapore's Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) figures, 1,127
drug users were arrested in 2006 compared to 793 in 2005. Amnesty
International says about 400 people have been sentenced to death in
Singapore since 1991, most for drug trafficking.
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MAP posted-by: Derek