Friday, February 29, 2008


When was the last time we saw a Minister (let alone one as senior as DPM Wong Kan Seng) apologise in Singapore Parliament? Practically unheard of.

I think the message is clear: the authorities in charge of Mas Selamat Kastari’s detention had fouled up big time. The prison break of the JI leader in Singapore is a most serious (and embarrassing) security lapse, especially for Singapore, which has prided itself for its excellent security track record.

Although DPM Wong explained in Parliament that the JI detainee had escaped from a toilet from the family visitation room, I am left wondering how a situation as surreal as this could actually happened.

Accountability calls aside, many fellow bloggers are clamouring for more details - where were the guards minding him? Was it an inside job? etc…

Surely, it cannot be one man’s failure, but a failure of many factors.

However, the point now is NOT about pointing fingers and asking for resignations. My own sense is that the focus must be on rectifying the situation, on damage control, i.e. nabbing the escaped fugitive.

The longer he is not apprehended, the greater the danger he poses to society. Lest anyone forgets, this terrorist chap had plotted retaliatory attacks against Singapore while he was on the run after the detention of JI members in 2001. There is nothing to suggest that he won’t revisit such plots. Does he not want blood?

While the authorities have shown that no efforts will be spared in nabbing Mas Selamat Kastari, I am not sure cordoning Whitley Road and its adjacent vicinity and stepping up border security would suffice. Instead, more stakeholders, no in fact, the whole populace must be brought in to assist with the apprehension of the fugitive. This calls for a national endeavour.

Everyone, including taxi drivers, road commuters, shop owners, park-goers, young and old etc, can be the ‘eyes and ears’ for the law-enforcement agencies. And key to this would be the provision of more details to the public to better assist with more accurate tip-offs while we leave the actual arrest to the authorities.

Some details that could perhaps help include: Mas Selamat Kastari’s latest photos; his height and size (How tall is he? How thin or fat is him? A full-length photo could be helpful); his attire (What was he last known to be wearing?); while he is said to be walking with a limp, is it a left leg limp or right one?; is he alone or known to be in the company of others?

I think for us bloggers, we could step-up our online pamphleteering campaign, perhaps a coordinated Manhunt site. We could include the fugitive’s pictures and along with typical objective commentaries, suggestions, and information about possible sightings and hiding places.

For the safety of our children, loved ones and fellow countrymen, all of us have to join hands with the authorities to create a national cordon and nab this terrorist before he strikes.