Mas Selamat’s prison break: Some questions for Home Affairs Minister

I have a few questions for the Minister for Home Affairs regarding the escape of alleged terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari.

1. Why has Singapore not asked the Malaysian police for help in tracking him down? Malaysian police chief Musa Hassan was quoted in the International Herald Tribune yesterday saying, “We have not received any special request from Singapore as yet.”

Doesn’t the Government think that there is a very high likelihood that Mas Selamat could have escaped to Malaysia immediately after his prison break?

2. How could Mas Selamat have escaped from the toilet in the ISD Detention Centre? Was there a hole in the toilet wall or an open window that he could have got out from? If so why wasn’t this fixed, given the need for such high security at such a facility?

3. How long did it take for the alarm to be sounded? Surely if there was a warden outside the toilet waiting for him to finish his business, that guard should have gone in to check on him if he didn’t come out in 2 minutes. How far could a limping man have run in just 2 minutes?

4. Once he got out of the toilet, how did he manage to get through the perimeter fence which is guarded by Gurkhas and CCTV cameras? Was there a hole in the fence?

5. Has MHA ruled out the possibility of an inside job?

6. So far the MHA has only released two face shots of Mas Selamat. Wouldn’t it be more useful to tell the public what he was wearing when he escaped, so that people can look out for him? This was pointed out by HWZ forummer knave.

7. The Home Affairs Minister has said that an “independent investigation” is underway. Will the public be informed of the details of the investigation, or will Singaporeans be told that it was an honest mistake and to trust the MHA to know what they are doing? If operational security is a concern, at a minimum, the full report should be released to all MPs, including Opposition MPs.

Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

12 thoughts on “Mas Selamat’s prison break: Some questions for Home Affairs Minister”

  1. What we have learnt and should always remember are that the JI operatives are extremely dedicated and deadly disciples of Osama Bin Ladin. This particular JI operative was forged from the fires of Afghanistan and perhaps the most intelligent and cunning amongst the organisation. How else could he be their leader! That he has escaped is an indication of how dangerous JI operatives truly are. In my view, it is not the fault of our security forces. It is easy with the benefit of hindsight to criticise but bear in mind that even the CIA and the FBI could not prevent 9-11. Even the British M15 could not prevent the London bombings. We should rally behind and support our security forces and not undermine them.

  2. “That he has escaped is an indication of how dangerous JI operatives truly are.”

    No, that he has escaped shows how incompetent the ISD personnel guarding him were. Just because he escaped does not prove that he is a dangerous operative.

    “In my view, it is not the fault of our security forces.”

    Oh I’m sorry. A limping man in shackles managed to outfox all our scholars in MHA. Yes. Not their fault. Just an “honest mistake”.

    “even the CIA and the FBI could not prevent 9-11. Even the British M15 could not prevent the London bombings.”

    Preventing 911 and London bombings were far more challenging than preventing a lone prisoner from slipping from detention. That’s a silly comparison.

    Nevertheless, the Americans established a 9/11 Commission which came out with a comprehensive report of what went wrong. All this was made public. Will MHA do the same? I seriously doubt so.

    “We should rally behind and support our security forces and not undermine them.”

    Are you saying that by asking a few hard questions is “undermining” our security forces?

  3. Dear Nicholas Lazarus,

    While I do believe in supporting our security forces and not to undermine them. Yet I find it hard to comprehend how a thorough, open, transparent enquiry of what went wrong will seek to undermine the security forces.

    It is almost comical to believe that a limping man in chain can actually escape from the collective IQ of our millionaire scholars, ISD and security guys. And I thought only Hollywood could conceive of such farcical escape. Today, Singapore has really become world class in surpassing Hollywood in the action movie reality stake.

    On a serious note. We need a detailed and open enquiry on what went wrong. I may sound bitter but what is the point of paying ministers million dollar salary to when they could not watch over a limping prisoner.

    And yes, I fail to see how 9-11 tie in with a escape prisoner. Whereas one is a heinous terrorist act of epic proportion, the escape of a terrorist is nowhere compared to it. Also while 9-11 happen while the terrorist are out in the open, our dear Mas Selamat escapred while he is in our custody.

    The image of Singapore had taken a severe beating and we are probably the butt of the jokes around the world.

  4. Nicholas – Singapore security forces were already compromised by their use in the past to incarcerate moderate politicians: Not George Bush locking up Osama, but George Bush locking up Bill Clinton or Margaret Thatcher locking up Tony Blair etc.

    The were people like: Francise Seow, Teo Soh Lung, catholic church workers, JBJ etc.

    I’m not sure whether you would support these kinds of fascists policies in your own country (assuming you’re not from singapore), but the local context behind many of the comments here is that people think this government lacks legitimacy.

    They used detention without trial laws to muzzle opposition politicians, and thereby practiced state terrorism on its own people. The long term damage done to Singaporeans – the fact that most of us don’t have much of an opinion about anything else other than making money – is far greater than anything this Mas S.K. guy can do.

  5. Nicholas Lazarus is not a foreigner. He is a member of Young PAP (YPAP). He had left the same comments (copy & paste) on blog posts (related to Mas Selamat’s escape) listed in the Singapore Daily.

    Google his name and other kinds of twisted logic by him can be found too.

    See this below hyperlink from the Young PAP website for more information:
    Young PAP 15th Executive Committee

  6. “Nicholas Lazarus is not a foreigner.”…

    In that case, if Nicholas, you’re a singaporean and you’re trying to head off criticism about the PAP’s handling of this issue, you’re a moron. You need to live in UK, US, Taiwan, HK, Holland, live anywhere for month in these places; read their newspapers and ask yourself why Singaporeans have to live such sad lives – is it really so scary to give us more democracy?

    Wong Kan Seng – You do not deserve the salary you get: RESIGN NOW!

  7. In the midst of all the noise…
    Have we considered something strange…the Three-member Commission of Inquiry (COI) actually included Dr Choong May Ling, Deputy Secretary (Security and Corporate Services) of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

    Isn’t there a conflict of interest given that this is a inquiry into a security lapse by a division within Ministry of Home Affairs

  8. “Isn’t there a conflict of interest given that this is a inquiry into a security lapse by a division within Ministry of Home Affairs”

    Agree. ST reported that it’s an independent panel, but just how a panel including someone from MHA itself could possibly be one completely baffles me. Independent indeed.

    And an entire week to establish that he was wearing the standard detainee attire with a baju kurung because they needed to “ascertain” that?

  9. You’re right. The independent panel is in fact not independent at all. I’m going to write more about this soon.

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