The day after Mas Selamat Kastari (aka The Limping Terrorist) escaped from prison on 27 February, Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng told Parliament that there will be an “independent investigation” into this “security lapse”.
Then Singaporeans found out that our government has a different definition of the word “independent” when it was revealed that this Committee of Inquiry (COI) included the Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs, who “oversees security policy” as part of her regular job.
But the COI is independent, we are told, because “she does not have any line relationship over ISD or any operational departments”.
I guess since I didn’t get 4As in my A-levels like those 600 potential prime ministers, I should just shut up and accept that my England is not very powderful because I wasn’t paying attention when my primary one teacher taught me what “independent” means. Obviously my definition must be wrong, otherwise it would mean that our Deputy Prime Minister told Parliament something that wasn’t true.
(But wait a minute…if she is a DS overseeing security policy, but does not have anyone at the Internal Security Department or any operational departments reporting to her, then what is her superscale salary being used to pay for?)
On 2 March, Channel NewsAsia reiterated Mr Wong’s “independent Committee of Inquiry” comment, and went on to say that the “report should be ready within a month”.
I just checked the calendar, and I think it’s 11 April today, which means that the report is more than 10 days late.
What could be the reason for the delay? The DS on the COI team is from the elite Administrative Service, well trained in report writing. Surely she would have been able to whip up a report within a matter of days.
Perhaps the report really was ready long ago, but it needs time for “inter-agency consultation” so as to soften any potentially embarrassing findings, particularly for the political elite. MM Lee has already foreshadowed what the report might contain, when he pinned the blame for the escape on the goats…I mean…guards, whom he accused of being “negligent”.
But fret not, Singaporeans. Two “facts” may have turned out to be untrue, but I’m still holding out for a third fact to come true: That when the COI completes its inquiry, the Government will give a full account on how Mas Selamat escaped.
(It’s notable that it is only after the Workers’ Party expressed concern that the Committee will “submit its report to the Minister, and no part of the proceedings may be released to anyone except with the Minister’s written permission”, did the MHA come out and declare that there will be a “full account”.)
So where is our full account, “independent” Committee of Inquiry?
Or maybe I should be asking MHA: Why have you not released the COI’s full account to the public yet? Does the Government think that Singaporeans are all saying “what to do? He’s escaped” and are moving on with their lives?
Singaporeans are waiting…
Personally, I’m equally interested to find out the outcome of the separate CID investigation which is looking into whether there was any criminal wrongdoing, and “if any person is found to have abetted the escape”. I had asked on the second day after the escape whether this was an inside job and I still maintain that this is the most likely scenario.