Singapore is not exactly notorious for rational law enforcement or compassionate drug policy. The city state of five and half million has strict laws governing everything from spitting to chewing gum in public. Seventy percent of executions in Singapore over the past few decades (happily, the number has dropped off steeply in recent years) are for drug offenses. And the government has been widely mocked for its simple-minded approach to drug enforcement.
Enter internationally beloved martial arts movie star and former UNICEF goodwill ambassador Jackie Chan. The Hong Kong native has become Singapore’s first celebrity anti-drugs ambassador. Why on earth would he associate himself with this regime?
Back in China, his own son, Jaycee Chan, was imprisoned for six months on drug charges. Chan referenced his son when explaining his new role:
I have always supported anti-drug causes, even more so now because my own family member is a victim. Right now he just holes up in his room, writing songs. He doesn’t dare to face the world and the media. But I told him, you need to face them. Everyone makes mistakes—we just need to recover from them.
Jaycee Chan’s “victimhood” comes in the form of merely testing positive for marijuana. Targeted as part of the Chinese government’s crackdown on celebrities, Chan Jr. was lucky not to have ended up in China’s sprawling “detoxification centers,” which in many cases are simply repurposed gulags.
Far from criticizing China’s witch-hunt, Jackie Chan has effectively endorsed it, as well as wrongly asserting that experimentation with drugs invariably leads to addiction. Chan has even gone so far as to advocate the death penalty for nonviolent drug offenses: “I approve the death penalty, for certain cases … For drugs, when you sell it, you are hurting thousands of people and children—those people are useless. I am not a judge, but some cases deserve heavy penalty.”
Not such a nice guy after all.