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Escape has yet to dent govt’s hubris

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 6, 2008

By Gerald Giam

While in a cab last Saturday, I recalled the newspapers reporting that within hours of alleged Jemaah Islamiah leader Mas Selamat Kastari’s escape from detention, a broadcast was sent to all taxis urging them to look out for the escaped terrorist. Wanting to verify this, I asked the cabby when exactly he received that broadcast.

“They didn’t tell us until the next day!” he replied in Mandarin. “And after making such a big blunder, what’s the point of apologising?”, he continued, ending off with, “Ta ma de!” which loosely translates to “Damn it!” in English.

With just that innocent question, I had not expected to ignite such anger in that otherwise polite taxi driver. It was then I realised that I was not alone in feeling upset at the fact that the government allowed a potentially dangerous man to slip away so easily from detention last Wednesday afternoon. An AFP report published by The Straits Times (2 March) reported that the government has come under unusually “stinging public criticism” after the escape.

But to err is human. And government officials are human after all, aren’t they? So why engage in this “unconstructive and retrospective finger-pointing”, as two NTU academics wrote in TODAY (4 March)? Shouldn’t we “rally behind and support our security forces and not undermine them,” as Mr Nicholas Lazarus advised me in a comment on my blog last Friday?

On deeper analysis, it appears that Singaporeans’ anger at the government is not simply because a bunch of bumbling Internal Security Department (ISD) officials at the Whitley Road Detention Centre let slip the alleged leader of JI Singapore.

It is not because Singapore has been in the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons. It is not even because after more than a week, one thousand police officers and army personnel still haven’t been able to find a limping man in this little red dot of an island.

I suspect that Singaporeans are more upset with the insufferable hubris and lack of transparency of the government despite what is probably their biggest blunder in recent memory.

Mr Tan Chak Lim put it this way in a letter to TODAY (1 March):

“When we hear of dangerous prisoners escaping from prison in Indonesia or the Philippines, we congratulate ourselves that such things can’t possibly happen in Singapore. The escape of Mas Selamat should check any hubristic tendencies on our part.”

Hubristic tendencies? Didn’t the Deputy Prime Minister apologise in Parliament for the “lapse in security”? Wasn’t that a sincere enough display of contrition for someone as high and mighty as Mr Wong Kan Seng?

The behaviour of senior government officials in the wake of the escape suggests that these hubristic tendencies are still as strong as ever.

It took four long hours for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to inform the public that Mas Selamat had escaped? PAP Member of Parliament Dr Teo Ho Pin asked the right question the next day in Parliament: Why so long?

The Minister’s answer? He posed “no imminent danger to the public” and he was “not known to be armed”. The police on Sunday said that they did not want to cause “public panic”.

Does the Minister really think Singaporeans are so irrational? If he is not armed and dangerous, why should Singaporeans panic if the police sounded the alarm immediately?

The public could have helped police nab the man in those crucial four hours.

In fact at about 5.15pm, 70 minutes after the escape, a bus commuter reported seeing a man, believed to be Mas Selamat, at a petrol kiosk near the detention centre. A manager of a car washing kiosk at the Esso petrol station on Whitley Road reported seeing a man struggling up a flight of stairs towards Malcolm Park at 5pm. If these people had been informed of Mas Selamat’s escape, they would have called the police immediately instead of speaking to the press only a day later.

As student Lee Weijia pointed out in a letter to the Straits Times, “the authorities were hoping to apprehend him without alerting the public. It seems that the public was only alerted when the authorities recognised the fact that Mas Selamat could not be apprehended any time soon.”

Lee went on to ask a very pertinent question: If Mas Selamat had been apprehended within the four hours, would this have been reported and made known to the public at all?

“We should not speculate”

The question that every Singaporean must have asked in the immediate wake of the escape was, “How could this have happened in Singapore?”

Every Singaporean, that is, except our local mainstream media journalists and editors.

As NTU don Cherian George pointed out, neither The Straits Times, nor Channel NewsAsia, nor TODAY asked that question within the first 24 hours of the news breaking. This led Dr George to conclude that the editors “must have been instructed not to raise the ‘how’ question publicly”.

Indeed, the Home Affairs minister had told Parliament immediately after his apology, that, “An independent investigation is underway. We should not speculate now. Security at the centre has been stepped up.”

How can the minister tell Singaporeans not to speculate when such a costly mistake has just been committed? Is there a presumption that the government is above public scrutiny?

Suffered a “knock” but we’re still better than others

On Sunday, the Home Affairs minister acknowledged that Singapore‘s reputation for safety and security had “suffered a knock somewhat”.

Was it just a “knock”?

The news of the escape was reported the world over by major news agencies and dailies like AFP, CNN, BBC, New York Times, Reuters, Associated Press, Xinhua, Hindustan Times, Washington Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Al Jazeera and Taipei Times, just to name a few.

They featured unflattering headlines like “A Jihadi Limps Away from Singapore Jail”, “Singapore: Terror suspect fled toilet” and “Embarrassed Singapore hunts escaped terrorist”.

NTU academics Hoo Tiang Boon and Kumar Ramakrishna assessed that Mas Selamat’s escape is likely to have “wide repercussions, strategically and operationally” and that other terrorists might use this story for the own recruitment and indoctrination purposes.

The Minister went on to boast that “our reputation continues to remain high compared to many other countries”. Indeed, what better way to prop oneself up than to put others down, by implying that “other countries” (read: Indonesia, Philippines, etc) still pale in comparison to us! Even if it is true, this is hardly the time to say so.

Responding in kind, the Indonesians later stated that while they are helping in the search for Mas Selamat, if they catch him, they are not going to extradite him to Singapore for the second time, because the Singapore-Indonesia Extradition Treaty has not been ratified.

See where this hubris has gotten us?

Singaporeans fed dribs and drabs of information

Last Friday, I asked on my blog why the police had not told the public what Mas Selamat was wearing when he escaped. On Tuesday, almost a week after the escape, the police finally revealed that he could have been wearing a baju kurong over a beige round collared tee-shirt and a pair of brown long trousers.

The reason given for not telling the public earlier? They did not want the public to have a “fixation” on this particular attire as the fugitive could have already changed his clothes. Now they want the public to help look out for his discarded attire.

How insulting to Singaporeans! Is it better to look out for these clothes when they are on the fugitive or when they have been taken off?

The police obviously felt the heat for not releasing basic information like his height, weight and attire earlier. Now they are trying to weasel their way out by asking Singaporeans to look out for discarded clothes. Do they really think Mas Selamat will strip off his clothes and place them neatly in the open for everyone to see?

The “independent” investigation

Singaporeans were told by the minister that there will be an “independent investigation” in to this matter. Then it was revealed that the Commission of Inquiry (COI) consists of an advisor to the President, a serving ambassador and former police chief, and the Deputy Secretary for Security at the Home Affairs Ministry.

It is already a stretch to say that the first two are independent, despite their government links and current portfolios, but having on the Commission the third-most senior civil servant in the very ministry at fault surely shatters any veneer of “independence”. Like Mr Wang, I have nothing personal against any of these commissioners. In fact, I met Mr Tee Tua Ba when he was Ambassador to Egypt and can attest that he is a very pleasant and friendly gentleman. I trust that these commissioners will be impartial to the best of their ability.

Nevertheless, I do not understand why the government boasts that this is an “independent commission” when by most objective measures, it is clearly not. Have they taken the liberty to redefine the meaning of “independent”?

It remains to be seen whether the COI’s report is going to be made public, just like the 9/11 Commission which investigated the failures that allowed the terrorist attacks of September 11 in New York and Washington.

Conclusion

I am aware that it is unfair to blame the entire Home Team for a security breach at a top- secret ISD detention centre that many Singaporeans didn’t even know existed. I am in full support of the hundreds of policemen who are working overtime to nab this alleged terrorist.

It is just unfortunate that despite the gravity of the mistakes that were made by MHA officials before and after Mas Selamat’s escape, Singaporeans are still expected to put up with haughty statements and lack of transparency from our government.

The most senior government leaders have been deafeningly silent on this issue since it broke. I will not be surprised if the first statements we hear from them are chastisements along the lines of Singaporeans — especially bloggers — not having a sense of proportion when criticising the government for this minor security lapse.

Singapore‘s international reputation for security and competence has taken a hit as a result of this blunder. Unfortunately, however, it seems the government’s hubris hasn’t been dented one bit.

Gerald also writes on his own blog, Singapore Patriot.

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40 Responses to “Escape has yet to dent govt’s hubris”

  1. Hi Gerald,

    Just a minor note. I do not recall the authorities labeling the commission as ‘independent’ (the media did perhaps).

    In fact i believe that to an extent, the intention was to form a grouping that boasts institutional knowledge rather than agent autonomy. This fits in with the PAP’s mentality of results above everything else (objectivity and independence be damned)

    I have a question for you though.

    The reality of Singapore is that all high profile members of society (elites, CEOs, Judges ..etc) are inextricably linked to the Government in one way or the other. Wouldn’t that make it near impossible to find a truly ‘independent’, ‘neutral’, ‘objective’ individual?

  2. “I suspect that Singaporeans are more upset with the insufferable hubris and lack of transparency of the government despite what is probably their biggest blunder in recent memory.”

    I second that.

  3. Robert HO said

    RH:
    1. The former judge is still being paid by LIE KY and wife’s law firm of LEE&LEE. That says everything.

    2. Every single elite or VIP has been surveilled, monitored, and vetted by the ISD and other secret police BEFORE THEY ARE ALLOWED TO RISE TO ANY POSITION OF CONSEQUENCE. Hence, there can never be any ‘independent’ COI nor any independent Elections Commission — this last is why elections are still conducted, AND RIGGED [as in stuffing fake PAP votes into fake ballot boxes in the 1997 Cheng San GRC election — see my blog] by the Prime Minister’s Office.

    3. Every VIP is beholden to LIE KY and LHL. They owe their continued ‘success’ to continued loyalty to LIE KY and LHL. They can be removed and even jailed when they turn disloyal, like Mr Francis SEOW. Nobody escapes from the long arms of LIE KY and LHL — unless allowed like KASTARI!

    4. However, as proven by Mr Francis SEOW, VIPs can and do turn disloyal. Even 1 Mr Francis SEOW can then go on to write authoritative books exposing the inner schemings of the LIEs from their former vantage points as Insiders. With the Internet spawning a new freedom to communicate in pretty good safety and anonymity, we can expect more and more exposes in the years ahead. “There are no secrets in the 21st Century.”

  4. aygee said

    and, as many have mentioned on numerous blogs and comments, the lack of transparency will lead to speculation, rumours and conspiracy theories.

    A request by Mr Wong Kan Seng not to speculate will not stop people from doing so.

    There’s already a few that i’ve collected thus far!

  5. aygee said

    About informing the public only after 4 hours, i think they are just following SOP.

    once they discovered he was missing from the toilet, they would have a facility lockdown. that 4 hours was spent going through the whole facility to see if he was still hiding somewhere on the premises. the Whitley Rd Centre, from what i have heard, is really quite a high-security area with 24/7 guards and double fencing.

    Once it was very clear that he was not in the premises, or that they found the route in which he left the premises, thats when they put out the alert to the news.

    so, i feel we shouldn’t be too harsh on this 4hours bit.

    BUT… all the police or Mr Wong could was explain this to the media and in Parliament – “it was SOP to lock down the facility and do a thorough search, to see if he’s still in the premises. When it was clear that he had escaped, thats when we put out the alert, which unfortunately was 4 hours later.”

    Again, if there was more transparency, rather than wait for a COI, i think the public, and yourself, Gerald and Unfortunate Singaporean, would have been more forgiving.

  6. Weibin said

    A very concise and well-written article, I believe, about most of the concerns the public has about the incident.

    I’d like to add that the longer the inquiry’s report takes (reported as 1 month), the stronger the backlash the government will face. Addressing the people’s questions directly, IMHO, is a much more effective way to soothe dissatisfaction than leaving the window wide open for the public to speculate and hence criticise.

  7. LifesLikeThat said

    Alamak! The “INDEPENDENT” commission consists of:

    Goh Choon Seng : “He is currently a Consultant with Lee & Lee.”

    Lee and Lee! Wah lau! No wonder he got appointed to the “INDEPENDENT” commission.

  8. security guard said

    A facility lockdown is almost a sure bet, but with tracker dogs in the facility, the search could be done in a shorter time than four hours, one and a half to two hours would have been sufficient.

    There is absolutely no reason not to have disclosed how the Escape had taken place by now, as the Security Personnels on duty then would have been investigated by within 24 hours. It was not a mass breakout but escape of just a single detainee. There was no injury of Duty Personnel, in fact Mas Selamat was not detected by Duty Escort(s), Gate Sentry(ies), CCTV Monitoring Officer(s) or anybody else. Quite a joke really.

    What irks the Citizenry most, I think, is the silence of the Prime Minister, Senior Minister, Mentor Minister and the President. They are all so shy and quiet now, a wrong time to do so, for it will be taken as dereliction of duties and responsibilities. THEY SHOULD NOT AND CANNOT ESCAPE FROM WHAT THEY MUST DO- BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR A SERIOUS BREACH OF DUTIES BY THEIR SUBORDINATES.

    AND THERE SHALL BE NO ESCAPE FROM THE PEOPLE OF SINGAPORE!!

  9. security guard said

    The Local Medias Pressmen/women who accompanied(accompanying) the Minister Mentor on Oversea Assignments are also guilty of Silence for not asking for MMs’ Take on Mas Selamats’ Escape from detention.

    When it is(was) time to ask important and relevant question(s), the Media People seem to lack the gumptions, shame on You People, truly shameful!

  10. Weijia said

    Very nice article! and i think you are right, with regards to the fact that the majority of us are more upset with the lack of transparency on the part of the government, than with the lapse in security, or failure in finding Mas Selamat.

    The Government had a great chance to unite the nation behind them by engaging all of us meaningfully in the search, instead of treating us like idiots. but i guess old habits die hard. their reticence and lack of transparency had alienated us from the effort, and while we continue to keep an eye out for Mas, I doubt many of us feel any level of bond with the government over this.

    I hope the government wake up their idea soon and stop being so secretive. If you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve nothing to hide! the pot is simmering already. i wonder when it’ll boil over.

  11. Daniel said

    “Lee and Lee! Wah lau! No wonder he got appointed to the “INDEPENDENT” commission.”

    Isn’t it absurd that Singapore definition of Independent body concerning investigation of government cases always the YES-MEN ?

    What do you expect the YES-MEN to say ? Tell the real truth, or reveal the half-fucked truth so as not to lose their job. Using the excuse of confidentiality and nation-building to coverup and acquit themselves of any wrongdoing and mistakes only means they only condemn to make the same mistakes again.

    Isn’t it any wonder that after decades, Singapore governance system hasn’t change a bit, at its core is still the same old Wayangness and acting-blur.

    Everything here is about create committee or more committee after another. Can’t they just take their own initiation to find out the cause first and tell Singapore ? While do they need a committee to tell a story every time ?

  12. ash said

    It’s been reported that Mas Selamat escaped at 4.05pm..
    But I just wonder, 4.05 is the time they DISCOVERED he’s missing or it’s an estimated time of his ecape?

    If it’s the latter, just when did the guards realise he’s missing?

    If it was the job of an insider, then surely it would take them quite a while to find out that he had escaped.
    Then, could this partly account for the time lapse?

  13. aygee said

    Security Guard, on your comment #8:
    i wouldn’t be too quick to say 1.5-2 hours is enough. We cant really say how long it would take without knowing the true size of Whitley Rd Centre. the complex could be huge if there are underground areas.

    To Ash, comment #12:
    thats the thing, u see. there’s loads and loads of theories we can speculate on, when there is no transparency.

    i. Mas Selamat has been converted into an informant and allowed to escape to re-infiltrate JI. quite likely. also explains why all the senior people in the govt are kinda quiet about this.

    ii. inside job? maybe, but prob not. Whitley Rd is our Guantanamo. the most trusted folks run that place. JI isn’t exactly an organisation with billions of dollars that can turn someone from that centre (but i could be wrong about them having no money).

    iii. its an excuse to “remove” him, either by shooting him when he’s finally “found”..or just say he’s escaped to another country when we have already quietly “extinguished” him. Unlikely, cos the fallout from the escape is already hurting us internationally.

    iv. letting him escape to another country so that he’ll be their burden instead. not likely, coz he could come back to haunt us.

    v. He never was the “biggest threat to national security” as the media and the govt originally make him out to be. which explains the lack of security around him, and the poor followthrough after his escape.

    vi. its a “wag the dog” situation to divert attention away from the CPF Life Annuity Plan implementation, the miscalculation of 0.7b deficit to 6.4b surplus, the buying up of more banks and TATA, an analyst saying that Singapore wont make money from their bank purchases, the means testing implementation… also unlikely. already got so much flak, does the Govt really need more flak?

    sigh, there could be a hundred other theories about it, and these are just what i’ve read thusfar among the many blogs that posted on the escape.

  14. Robert HO said

    RH:
    Martyn SEE has a brilliant take on KASTARI :

    Thursday, March 06, 2008
    The greatest jailbreak, or the boldest story ever told?

    http://singaporerebel.blogspot.com/

  15. familyman said

    I don’t know – but I think TOC has been hijacked by the govt or PAP or whoever. There is no talk about the budget surplus and mismanagement by minister of defence, the citibank fiasco, the minitry of health statement on means testing and next, CPF life annuity.
    Let us stop this hubris and continue to probe on the bnudget.
    Thank you.

  16. familyman said

    sorry – I meant minitry of finance on the 2007 budget – not defence.
    Thanks

  17. Seeking Salvation said

    The limping idiots of the garment bureaucrats would hide and cover their ass as long as the rice bowl is endangered.
    My friend who was staying at Goldhill was upset that the police and plainclothes ISD men came knocking at the door at 1 plus in the morning demanding to search the house without a search warrant. When asked what are they looking for they deny anything dangerous has escaped and say they were looking for somebody. When asked for a photograph of the somebody they could not produce a picture. This is government bureaucrats covering their own ass.
    Next time we should just vote out these bunch of overpaid lumps
    especially the tops ones who always hide and keep their peanut size mouth shut and quiet when there is a crisis.

  18. Daniel said

    Your friend should have taken a video of these searching the house and then put on youtube because these people do not have search warrant. What if these clowns are terrorist dress as police searching for LHL in your house ? Suga-suga search people without warrant, no wonder Selamat can suga-suga disappear without saying goodbye to gahmen.

  19. Gerald said

    Unfortunate S’porean, you asked:
    “The reality of Singapore is that all high profile members of society (elites, CEOs, Judges ..etc) are inextricably linked to the Government in one way or the other. Wouldn’t that make it near impossible to find a truly ‘independent’, ‘neutral’, ‘objective’ individual?”

    Well that’s a very true observation. In the first place no one is really neutral or independent. But you don’t go and put one of your own people there and say the committee is independent. The easiest thing would be to say they are a “Commission of Inquiry”, not “independent committee” like what Wong Kan Seng said in Parliament.

    Seeking Salvation – That’s outrageous what happened to your friend in Goldhill. I think he should make an official complaint. Like that any robber can just barge in and say they are policemen. It’s a security issue.

  20. HUBRIS?

    If my memory serves me right, I once saw a ‘sage’ at NUS giving a speech during the days of Indonesia’s President Megawati not too long after 9/11.

    In his hubris, in comparing security S’pore and Indonesia, this arrogant old man was inviting anyone who wish to hurt/bomb S’pore to train in Afghanistan with free air tickets! In his typical smug, nasty, knuckle-dusters laugh, he said his green berets will be waiting for them when they return.

    Anyone remember?

    So is this PAY BACK TIME?

    I think we are not hearing from the 3 Stooges, Larry, Moe and Curly on the Limp Escape because they practice “SHUT UP IF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BRAG”?

    Well, so everyone is waiting, waiting, waiting,

    while the wayang continues . . . . . .

  21. Daniel said

    “Independent committee” = Committee independent of external investigation.

    Could this be the assumed definition implied by the gahmen since they always live inside their own world disconnected from real world.

  22. Anon. said

    In response to the “Unfortunate Singaporean’s question:

    “The reality of Singapore is that all high profile members of society (elites, CEOs, Judges ..etc) are inextricably linked to the Government in one way or the other. Wouldn’t that make it near impossible to find a truly ‘independent’, ‘neutral’, ‘objective’ individual?”

    Given our government’s penchant for trusting foreign talent and expertise, why not get a group of experts from FBI, FSB, DSGI, Interpol or MI6… ?

    The bottom line: don’t say it is independent when it does not even look independent.

  23. Dead Poet said

    Well if you guys posting the comments are so smart, use the intelligence to excercise your rights. We have long given up our rihts for a few hundreds buck…suckers

  24. Kevin said

    Well,we can’t really be bothered to look out for him,if the police can’t really be bothered to give us first hand info!

    Really sick and tired of how this country functions….still so country bumpkin,after soooo many years!

    Kevin

  25. […] by The Singapore Daily on 7 March 2008 Prison Break, Singapore Style – The Online Citizen: Escape has yet to dent govt’s hubris – Unfortunately Singapore: Committee of Inquiry: Institutional Deficiencies vs Personal Liability – […]

  26. Fire Phoenix said

    The government get the whole country involved in searching for Mas Selamat. Eventually, if he could not be found, or were found to have escaped from Singapore, it is not just the police’s fault, it is everybody’s fault because the people were not vigilant enough to let him escaped out of Singpaore.

  27. tiredman said

    I am a regular reader of TOC. I feel that TOC had focused too much (flooded)on Mas Selamat. Although, this issue concerns about the national security and it is as important as to the bread and butter issues which we have been discussing all along , no matter how much we criticise the govt for the ineffectiveness (I pondered) of the SG’s ISA or whatever agencies, we cannot change the fact that this has had happened.

    I would suggest TOC’s writers to focus back to the other fundamental issues (eg:budget 2008)and take initiative to report updated news of Mas Selamat. I appreciated TOC’s continual effort for acting as informal communication channel to the top.

  28. seng said

    let’s get real, these bunch of leaders in singapore are not with the people. time to change them before they start rotting… or have they started???

  29. abcd said

    “”” security guard Says:
    March 6, 2008 at 1:49 pm
    The Local Medias Pressmen/women who accompanied(accompanying) the Minister Mentor on Oversea Assignments are also guilty of Silence for not asking for MMs’ Take on Mas Selamats’ Escape from detention.

    When it is(was) time to ask important and relevant question(s), the Media People seem to lack the gumptions, shame on You People, truly shameful!””””

    if reporters ask, and ministers refuse to reply, what do you suggest they do?

  30. Gerald said

    Abcd – Cherian George has answered your question in his article. Basically if journos ask and ministers refuse to reply, they should state that they asked but didn’t get a reply. E.g., “Mr Lee declined to comment on the issue”. At least we know they asked. But their current performance shows they are not doing their job (or more likely, their editors or political masters are preventing them from doing their job).

    Tiredman – Thanks for your feedback. Yes I believe we will be refocusing back on bread and butter issues, including the issues raised during the Budget debates. Thanks for your regular readership.

  31. marijuna singabola said

    oh singaporean… oh singaporean.. how long must you stuck yr head into the hole like an ostrich??? still believe in first world leaders we have??? we are been skinned alive by all their ways & means for their own benefit. wake up lah or get ready for yr own funeral.or are we too self-centred that as long as it does not hurt my way of daily living then it is not my business. a sick country with sick people……

  32. Supersub said

    The point that has yet to be blogged – bloggers pls note! – is this:

    Assuming it was right to imprison this Mas Selamat guy, why were non-security threats such as Francis Seow, catholic social workers, and Teo Soh Lung taken in under ISD?

    How can these people be worth so much money? They’re just gansters and thugs…

  33. LifesLikeThat said

    They could stop Chee Soon Juan at the airport.

    They could stop James Gomes at the airport.

    BUT!

    They COULD NOT stop Richard Yong flying to Hong Kong.

    They COULD NOT stop Took Leng How from WALKING across the causeway.

    They COULD NOT stop a LIMPING man from escaping through a prison window.

    Conclusion: Opposition members are more dangerous and closely-guarded than terrorists, murderers and frauds.

    Uniquely Singapore. PAP makes me sick.

  34. migrate_asap said

    Satirical humor:

  35. gunddu said

    SAD TO SAY THAT…. WE ARE THE WORLD’S LAUGHING STOCK ..

    WE ARE GOVERNED BY POOR CORPORATE GOVERNANCE …

    who doesnt know the definition on independent committee…

    who fear to face the press….

    lack of internal control..

    no back up plan…

    OH GOD! THEY HAVE GOOD DIRECTOR’S REMUNERATION!

  36. Robert HO said

    RH:
    1. Ha, ha, ha! This is pathetic. No insights into KASTARI, no apology for his cousin-in-law WONG KS’s mindboggling MIShandling of the escape and afterward, no firm leadership in taking over WKS’s obviously failed and flawed ‘leadership’, no firm words on punishing the wrongdoers and blunderers from the ISD guards to supervisors to Director or even WKS himself, NO so many, many things… [see http://www.straitstimes.com/Latest%2BNews/Singapore/STIStory_215009.html ]

    2. Just a very lame and LIMP speech which offers no information, no direction, no promise to improve things, just more ‘please wait for the COI’, made up of a former judge now working and paid handsomely by LEE&LEE, a serving, equally handsomely paid ambassador and equally mindboggling, a Director of the very ministry being investigated! This is how a dictatorship works.

    3. I had, in previous conversations with my wife, pointed out that the dictatorship system tends to prefer stupid people in its choice of cronies, a stupid populace who are thus more manageable and less critical, a stupid electorate who cannot see further than some simple cheques at election time and forego their greater interests when such money blandishments are forcibly taken back, with interest, through higher taxes on everything, etc.

    4. I had, in those private/public conversations, mentioned that the Singaporean usually can do reasonably when given a detailed IM [must be in English!] or Instruction Manual to follow but fails miserably when the situation is unanticipated and original thinking, analysis or just common sense, are required.

    5. WHAT I DID NOT REALISE IS THAT EVEN AT THE VERY TOP, AT LIE KY AND LHL AND WKS LEVELS, THIS LACK OF AN I.M. CONFOUNDS THEM TOO! Horror of horrors! We all know that the LIEgime copies from Hongkong, Japan and the West, but that at least, there would be some people at the top at least who don’t need IMs! I was wrong. Even LIE KY, LHL, WKS proved to be so stupid in mishandling this entire fiasco that they were nonplussed and SPEECHLESS, LIE KY until a day ago and LIE HL today. After too many bloggers had ridiculed them for zipping their golden mouths so tightly.

    6. In any other non-despotic country, a Govt and Ministers who

    a. wait 4 hours to inform their people that a possibly desperate, wanted man is loose [but little information else]
    b. wait several days to reveal what he was wearing
    c. refuse to reveal HOW he escaped and other burning questions already asked by bloggers and pressmen
    d. refuse to show cctv shots when such cctvs are everywhere, covering every sq cm [even in the PMO’s Election Dept]. [This could be because there are NO recent cctv shots since maybe KASTARI is dead and all cctv footage is date and time stamped]
    e. appoint a COI made up of cronies and other employees of LEE&LEE
    f. pretend not to have an opinion or say nothing for >week
    etc, etc,

    would have come under heavy condemnation by all and ridiculed to death, but not in fear-gripped and obedient Singapore.

    7. To the LIEgime, this is more explosive than if KASTARI had blown up Changi Airport as alleged, because KASTARI had in actuality, BLOWN UP THE LIEgime’s FAKED AND FALSELY PAINTED IMAGE OF INFALLIBILITY AND COMPETENCE. JUST BECAUSE THERE WAS NO I.M.!

  37. patriot said

    After reading the Public Statements made by DPM Wong Kan Seng, MM Lee Kuan Yew and PM Lee Hsien Loong, I am unable to discern any differences amongst them.

    Basically they all said the same thing; that it was unfortunate that something had gone wrong and though it was(is) serious, let us all chip in to make amend. There was no hint that someone or anyone should and shall be made answerable at least in a Disciplinary Inquiry, aside from the Commission of Inquiry. Those directly related to the Escape such as the Duty Personnels at the Remand Centre at the Time of Escape and their commanders supervising them, should be asked for the events immediately before the Escape and made public, minimum expectation of the people is a summary of the Incident.

    The people was expecting the Government to account for the Incident and make those involved, directly or indirectly, accountable. But so far, there were only expressions of regret and calls for closing rank. But what rank are there to close unless the Government sees and admits a division between itself and the people. There was a blunder in the Escape of a detainee, the Leaders should not allow a bigger blunder from the Incident.

  38. pat said

    Some people are screaming for heads to roll, but what they don’t see is that when something like this happens, heads will definitely roll, within the stat boards involved, but I don’t think any person’s identity/reputation should be plastered in the media.

  39. […] 2. Escape has yet to dent govt’s hubris, theonlinecitizen, 6 March 2008, Gerald Giam […]

  40. There is no doubt whatever in my enfeebled mind that alleged Great Houdini II did not escape at all. He was allowed to leave with his family and is now living it upn somewhere at the expense of Singapore taxpayers. His escape would have been recorded on CCTV cameras. No tapes, no escape. In fact, Houdini II was not a terrorist at all but an ISD plant who has been operating like an Asian James Bond from Day I. How come the 13 were caught and he managed to escape?

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