Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Mas Escape

The long awaited report into the breakout of JI member Mas Selamat was released in the Singaporean parliament yesterday and the Minister's statement make interesting reading.

There was clearly a major breakdown in security vigilance at the detention centre and the officers responsible have been "removed" which, in the case of the two Gurkhas involved, probably means a one-way ticket back to Nepal on the first available flight.

The detainee was able to lull his captors into a false sense of security and when he visited the toilet, put his trousers over the cubicle door and left via an unsecured and un-barred side window. Presumably he had another pair of trousers under his top ones and if he hadn't, then I guess he would not have died of exposure in the Singapore climate.

It took 11 minutes for the guards to realise that something was wrong and raise the alarm giving Mas Selamat ample time to scale (?) a nearby perimeter fence and hot foot it.

The reports all state that it was unlikely he had any outside assistance in the planning and execution of this escape. Singaporeans I have spoken to find this difficult to accept and it may or may not be an accurate assumption. Either way his luck was in and he has vanished into the ether.

It also begs the question, where is he now?

Opinion is evenly divided between his rapid transit to the nearby Indonesian archipelago or that he is laying low in someone's HDB flat and waiting for the public and security personnel's focus to wane.

To undertake either of these options he must be getting, or have got, outside help. I guess only time will reveal the real story but in the meantime Singapore's security credibility has received a severe jolt. To the government's credit they have been as candid as they can in this matter and clearly security is going to be a lot tougher for detainees from this point on.

One other interesting point from a westerner's perspective is that the Minister responsible for Homeland security, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, is not being pressured to stand down. In New Zealand there would be an immediate baying for blood from the opposition benches.

Not so in Singapore. In fact the Prime Minister responded to such suggestions today by stating that he believed that public officials and ministers should not automatically be removed as a result of a lapses from their subordinates. I have to say that this appears a more balanced approach to me. After all a Minister's overall performance should be judged across his or her whole portfolio, over time.

Any lapses in matter of integrity are treated entirely differently and dismissal on these grounds will and do happen, no matter what the status of the individual is.

4 comments:

PanzerGrenadier said...

On the contrary, in the Singaporean blogosphere, Minister Wong is being asked WHY he should still hang on to his $2-3m job when it happened under his watch. Most Singaporean men went through national service in the military, police forces or civil defence forces and male citizens have been punished for infractions far worst than this. The Chief Commando Officer had to be relinquished of his command when trainees were killed during water interrogation during prisoner of war training. Director (ISD) gets to keep his job when an escape of such magnitude occurs.

This wastes all the NSmen's time defending this pathetic red dot.

PanzerGrenadier said...

Correction,

"Most Singaporean men went through national service in the military, police forces or civil defence forces and male citizens have been punished for infractions more trivial than this."

I.e. how many of NSmen were punished for minor infractions such as untidy bunk or losing rounds/blanks? Not only do the men get punished, sometimes the section commander also gets it with the men.

Jamie said...

Hi,

I'm Jamie from The Sunday Times. We would like to quote your blogpost in our blogosphere column this week. Is that okay?

Pls let me know. Do email me at jamieee@sph.com.sg with your full name.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

"Any lapses in matter of integrity are treated entirely differently and dismissal on these grounds will and do happen, no matter what the status of the individual is."


Does WKS has any integrity? He pushed all the blame to others, even the window and fence. But said nothing about his own culpability as the top man in charge. What about the ongoing search and capture of Mas Selemat also under his charge? Two months on with nothing to show is a dead failure. WKS should resign twice already.