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Registration date : 2009-01-03

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PostSubject: Bongs raise eyebrows at pasar malam   Bongs raise eyebrows at pasar malam Icon_minitimeSun Mar 22, 2009 11:30 pm

Bongs raise eyebrows at pasar malam

By Vivien Chan
March 21, 2009

THESE water pipes can be used to smoke marijuana, and they are being openly sold in a night market.

Bongs raise eyebrows at pasar malam NP_IMAGES_VCBONG-XL3
ON DISPLAY: These pipes were being sold in Choa Chu Kang. TNP PICTURE: VIVIEN CHAN

Mr Mohammed Arif, 26, said he was surprised to see the pipes on sale as he passed through the night market in Choa Chu Kang last week.

He said: 'A salesgirl told me that the pipes are for smoking. When I said that these pipes looked like bongs, the girl said they are bongs.'

A bong is a water pipe often used to smoke marijuana, though they can also be used for tobacco.

And, it appears that it may not be illegal to have one as long as it is not used to smoke an illegal substance.

Mr Arif, a part-time student, said: 'I thought bongs are illegal in Singapore. I even saw some with marijuana leaf imprints, and some were very expensive.'

When The New Paper visited the night market the next evening, the pipes were still on sale.

The stall was also selling caps, music CDs, alarm clocks and ashtrays.

The pipes were displayed prominently in the middle of the table.

When this reporter expressed interest in the pipes, a sales assistant, who looked like she was in her early 20s, walked over.

Speaking in a distinctly Singaporean accent, she said they were 'water pipes'.

Initially, she said they were for decorative purposes. But when questioned further, she said the pipes could be used to smoke tobacco.

Pointing to the bottom of the pipe, the sales assistant said: 'This is where you put the water.'

Then she pointed out where to put the tobacco.

'After that, you smoke through here,' she said, pointing to the opening of the pipe.

'The water will filter the tobacco, so it's cleaner to smoke.'

When told it is rare for people to smoke tobacco this way, she said: 'You can use cigarettes also, if you want. Just put the cigarette here, where you are supposed to put the tobacco. It works the same way.'

The prices of the pipes ranged from $20 to $80. The sales assistant said the $20 pipes, made of metal, actually cost $28, but the stall was offering a discount.

The most expensive pipes - costing $80 - were made of glass.

The sales assistant said: 'The glass ones are for decoration.'

When asked why the glass pipes cannot be used for smoking, she hesitated before replying: 'Can, if you know how to.'

The biggest pipes were made of acrylic, and cost between $48 and $68.

The sales assistant said all the bongs were from Thailand.

Remember Phelps?

They were similar to the one American swimmer Michael Phelps was photographed using at a party last November. The swimming star was later slapped with a three-month ban from competition for smoking marijuana.

When contacted, a Central Narcotics Bureau spokesman said: 'Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, it is an offence for a person to possess pipes, utensils or any other apparatus intended for the smoking or consumption of a controlled drug.'

However, it is understood that it is not illegal to have these pipes if they are used only as decoration or to smoke tobacco.

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, ganja, pot and grass, is made from the hemp plant. It is a controlled drug here.

Those found to be possessing such a pipe for smoking an illegal substance can be jailed up to three years and fined up to $10,000.

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