a community of singaporeans

In the spirit of giving a “full account”

Posted by theonlinecitizen on March 26, 2008

Andrew Loh

A month has passed since suspected JI leader Mas Selamat Kastari escaped from the Whitley Road detention centre.

Perhaps it is a good time to re-visit what has been revealed – especially the information which the government has chosen to give the public about the escapee since the jailbreak.

When one looks at the information disseminated so far, by the government through the local media, one cannot help but notice the woeful lack of important information and, at the same time, the confusion surrounding one aspect of it.

The Ministry of Home Affairs released a statement to the press on the day of the escape itself – February 27th. However, the press release was a very short one. To quote the full statement from the MHA’s website:

“Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) detainee Mas Selamat bin Kastari escaped from the Whitley Road Detention Centre at 4:05 pm on 27 Feb 2008.

The public is advised to immediately contact the Police at 999 if they know of his whereabouts.

Mas Selamat was the leader of the Singapore JI network. He walks with a limp and is presently at large. He is not known to be armed. Extensive police resources have been deployed to track him down.”

The only information which would be of any help in physically identifying him was that “he walks with a limp”.

Significantly, there was no mention of his physical built, such as his height, weight, hair, whether he wore spectacles, or had tattoos, etc.

This press release was first carried by Channel NewsAsia at 20:45 hrs (8.45pm) on the day of the escape – some four and a half hours after the escape took place at 16.05 hrs (4.05pm), according to the police.

The next day, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Wong Kan Seng, commented about the escape in a Parliamentary sitting. In his comments, no mention was made of Kastari’s physical attributes. Instead, Mr Wong related briefly what had transpired at the detention centre which led to Kastari giving his custodians the slip.

Four days later, even that tiny bit of information about his limp had to be ‘clarified’ by the police – his limp is not observable if he only walks. According to this Straits Times report on March 2, Kastari has an “observable limp on left leg when running or walking briskly”. And in a Straits Times Interactive vodcast, it was reported that:

“Mas Selamat’s limp can only be seen clearly when he walks quickly or runs but can hardly be observed when he walks.”

One can only wonder why the police first put out an incomplete piece of information at a most critical time – just hours after the escape itself – and then took four days to clarify that Kastari’s limp is only observable if he walks quickly or runs.

One month later, we still do not have the answer to this simple question.

Although the Home Affairs minister has appointed a Committee of Inquiry (COI) to ascertain the circumstances relating to the jailbreak, surely we do not have to wait for the COI to complete its investigation to have an answer to this question.

Besides, I am sure the COI’s scope of investigation does not include press releases by the police.

And in the spirit of what the Home Affairs minister himself said – that a “full account” will be given to the public about Kastari’s escape – perhaps the police should be the first in observing the spirit of Mr Wong’s assurance:

Can the police please clarify why they obviously fouled up with a simple piece of information released at the most critical time following the escape?

Surely, one month is more than enough time to provide a clear explanation.

Or an apology.



32 Responses to “In the spirit of giving a “full account””

  1. patriot said

    As I am posting this comment at about 1500hrs Wednesday 26 March 2008, Channel News Asia 1500Hrs News is announcing that the Home Ministry believes Mas Selamat, the Alleged Terrorist, is still in Singapore.

    This oft-stated(proclaimed and announced over the Local Medias) claim is indeed baffling. The Authority claimed that its’ conclusion was based on intelligence.

    It appears to me that they(MHA/Police Force) are too sure that Mas Selamat is ‘still in Singapore’. Bearing in mind that this tiny and almost fully developed landpiece can be comprehensively combed(search and locate) for wanted fugitive(s) within days, it is now entering into the fourth weeks of Selamat’s Escape.

    So why the persistent and consistent claim that he remains in Singapore?

  2. Alan Wong said

    I just wonder, except probably with the help of the divine gods, how can they be so certain that Mas Selamat is ’still in Singapore’.

    Unless of course with one exception if the conspiracy theory is true, that he is probably lying 6 feet underground in Singapore.

  3. Yi-Long said

    The most baffling and disappointing part of this issue was, when they had already decided to be open about Kastari’s escape, useful and vital information are still witheld. Like what Andrew said, clarification on his limp and unique features. The details of his clothings at the time of escape was also witheld till a week later, asking public to be aware of any discarded clothings that matched the descriptions. It’s too late, if Kastari had really wanted to dispose of his clothings, they would have long been incinerated a week later.

  4. PM wannabe said

    it has happened. What to do? Why so many questions?

  5. lost cause said

    Can the families of Mas Selamat sue the govt for losing their father / husband while under their watch? Will a lawyer be sent to help them? Technically if Mas is not proven guilty in court, he is innocent and their family has lost a member. Is the family of Mas completely helpless in this situation? Can someone interview them for their story?

  6. samurai said

    Maybe all our immigration stations have no records that Mas has left the country???….thus WKS assumes he’s still here??????

  7. patriot said

    Ya, Alan Wong;
    the insistence by the Authority that Mas Selamat is ‘still in Singapore’ has made me feel that the conspiracy theory is the only explanation for Mas Selamats’ Escape. The Authority is simply too damn sure of his whereabout and with the latest revelation of ‘specific target’ search for him, it has become obvious.

  8. SingaPAPore Resident said

    It’s about time the authorities STOP the wayang search & do some real work

  9. Sure, Mas Selamat could still be in Singapore… probably reduced to a bag of bones already. Literally. He could also be having a not too nice holiday in Guantanamo Bay or something, who knows eh? Or maybe they bought him a one way flight to somewhere nice where he can spend the rest of his days with his family (no word from them yet) because they discovered that they detained someone who is innocent (he was detained as an alleged terrorist WITHOUT a trial) as a compensation and to buy his silence. Alot of maybes actually, one can go crazy just thinking about the alternatives hahaa…

    Well on a crazier note, how on earth do we know if he actually existed in the first place? Technology is so advance that 3D animation nowadays can look so real, go ask Lucas Arts. Then again maybe that is all too far fetched but all of it has got to do with the fact that the government hasn’t been revealing anything at all and all the information that they have revealed about him initially were changed almost day by day (with regards to his physical traits and such).

    Oh well, what to do eh, it has all happened.

  10. coi said

    Let me tell you how he escaped. There was a (loop)/hole and he went through it.

  11. ho said

    yes, i believe what the authority have said about Mr Selamat escape …… over my piled of shit that is.

  12. kirk said

    Come on, people ought to realise and know that the police are not responsible for MSK’s escape. He was guarded by Gurka Contingent in the custody of Internal Security Department. Yes, these departments belong to MHA but maybe some air should be cleared about the fault being SPF’s. SPF is putting in as much, if not more effort to clean up this mess that wasn’t faulted by them. Cut the some slack, and drill answers from people who owes the Republic one.

  13. Dead Poet said

    Did anyone notice the the claim “the agencies that helped us arrest him” in the MSM. I always thought the Indonesian arrested him and handed him over to us and later made a statement that if they do catch him the second time around they will not do so again. How then did we arrest him? Can any elites enlighten ..

  14. Fatty Chan said

    While Wong-Ca’nt Sing tells Singaporeans Mas is still in Singapore, he’s asking the Philippines police help. Guess Singaporeans are kept in the dark about many things….hahah..

    RP alerted to escaped terror suspect

    By Nancy C. Carvajal
    Philippine Daily Inquirer
    First Posted 08:56pm (Mla time) 03/15/2008

    MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police is now on the lookout for a suspected international terrorist who reportedly escaped from his detention cell in Singapore last week, according to a confidential report obtained by the Inquirer.

    According to the report, the Singapore police have alerted their counterparts in the Philippines about the escape of Mas Selamat Kastari after they failed to locate him in the city-state.

    Kastari, 45, according to the report, is the Jemaah Islamiyah leader of Wakalah Singapore.

    Jemaah Islamiyah, a known terrorist group is known to have sympathizers in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao.

    A photograph of Kastari has already been distributed to all police units in the country, according to the report.

    The report said Kastari is walso known by the aliases “Edi Haryato” and “Hendrawan.”

    Kastari, who according to the Singapore police walks with a limp, escaped from the Whitley Road Detention Center last February 27.

    Kastari was under the custody of the Singapore police after he was deported from Indonesia in January 2006.

    He was thrown out of Indonesia after Indonesian investigators discovered he was the leader of JI network in Singapore.

    The report said Kastari fled to countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia in December 2001 at the height of Singapore’s crackdown on members of suspected terrorist groups.

  15. […] by The Singapore Daily on 27 March 2008 Prison Break, Singapore Style – The Online Citizen: In the spirit of giving a “full account” – The Hammersphere: One month after escape – questions still […]

  16. Gary Teoh said

    It is already a month, where is the COI report? Why it takes so long for a report? Is it inefficient ?

  17. SS Lee said

    This episode only shows how citizens are being regarded – as unthinking fools who are not discerning when reading news. We must be so used to being served vomit that it doesnt stink anymore. Well especially those whose only form of news is MSM.
    This 1 mth thing is also a wayang lah.. they were hopeful to catch him then this COI wud have been another non-issue. Plus if you look carefully how they timed the capture of another JI member? Hullo, this chap went in BEFORE Mas fled. Another Wayang.

  18. Dngo said

    “Perhaps he is in the forest eating berries” – MM


  19. naivan said


    Your comment is interesting. Everyone thinks the GC, although under the custody of internal security, is a department/unit in the police force, so what do you mean when you say to ‘drill answers from those who owe the Republic one’?

  20. loaded888 said

    there is one angle over this whole show on the great mas selamat kastari “escape” which maybe only those in the intelligence security industry are whispering about. i know isd and it is not possible for this msk to have “escaped” just like that !

    in the past, isd routinely detained hundreds of hardcore communists ! these communists were so much more garang than our “terrorists” in custody, they actually did kill and bomb, they were beyond the baby planning stage of our “terrorists”. so if isd could detain hundreds of commies as a routine without one single commie escaping, it is not possible that standards have fallen so much that a limping man could escape from whitley road. that place is stronger than fort knox with an army of gurkhas guarding it.

    we must remember that isd is not just a gestapo unit. it actually has aspirations to be seen as an intelligence agency. and one tactic that they routinely used on the commies was to grab someone in the middle of night and “turn” him within say about 6 hours and release him back to the commies ! the double agent is born. the “turn” is so swift that not one of the comrades knew he was caught and turned and this brilliant tactic definitely caused the collapse of entire commie networks in the 70s.

    mas selamat’s escape in my humble opinion is one step up of this “turning” strategy. it is an elaborate and actually quite elegant way to get a ji leader back into the network and then swoop in for a crushing hammer blow two or three years later. the ji has probably gone so much undeground that this drastic ploy was conceived; in chinese proverb this strategy is put long line, hook the big fish.

    we must know that intelligence agencies are always playing this type of risk games. there is a possibility that even the politicians did not know that this wheeling and dealing has taken place. for isd to execute this operation, they must have something on mas selamat, or maybe he gave them something or some piece of info which proved his “loyalty” to his new masters. remember, he was caged for a couple of years and this is ample time to work on someone. break and brainwash him completely to the isd cause.

  21. antz said

    To be frank,I cannot be bothered to read about his ‘escape story’ again and again.

    The truth is that he managed to escape while under detention in ‘Singapore’.so?

  22. Seeking Salvation said

    Its another ‘honest’ mistake on their overpaid position part to justify spending more tax payers money to inconvenience underpaid citizens who have to fight with foreign threats and talents to hold their jobs and underpaid salaries so that the overpaid bumbling goons could justify spending more manpower, taxpayers money including relying on the foreign talented Gurhkas to search for the missing Kastari which the elite Gurhkas let pass or escape while under their guard (for which the overpaid bumbling goons do not trust fellow Singaporeans to guard let alone their houses or residence)Got it

  23. Hi Andrew,

    The chance of you sharing a stick of ganja or snorting cocaine with WKS is better than getting a full account of what actually happened to the alleged limping terrorist, Mas Selamat.

    Like Rachel wrote, was there a Golden Selamat in the first place?

    Actually, what happened may not have happened and if it did happened, the happenings were supposed to be
    1. Ministers’ Million $,$$$,$$$ Salary
    2. 7% GST Pain
    3. Highest Inflation since the 80’s . . .
    4. Minus becomes Plus Budget (yes, what to do, it again happened)
    5. Transportation woes and hikes
    6. New increase in utility charges
    7. Acting like Santa throwing good money at subprimed banks

    Now that the above happenings are swept under the carpet and the ‘limping terrorist’ story is getting stale, will we get a feel-good spin like Youth Olympics or another self-praise article like beating Lebanon in soccer!!!?

    Full account? Sorry Andrew, they are too busy, busy counting their million $,$$$,$$$ salary!

    Responsibilty and accountability? James Gomes had to be accountable for his form filling mistake. Chee Soon Juan had to be accountable for his mistake in taxi claim. I have to be responsible and accountable and not be radicalised when I read your blog:)

    Surprisingly, our ministerial elites (with their song and dance of meritocracy and democracy) are only accountable to ‘what to do, it happened’ and dad.

    We peasants are not to reason why. Ours it to bear and grin and continue to live in fear so that someone’s existence can be meaningful.

    “Between being loved and being feared, I have always believed Machiavelli was right.If nobody is afraid of me, I’m meaningless.” – Lee Kuan Yew, 6.10.1997

    Sorry, the never ending spin is giving me vertigo . . . I need a break.


  24. Adrian said

    It is honestly a bit pathetic that the local authorities try to tell us sweeten stories of Lah Lah land, believing that we have no access to credible alternative sources of information like how they were when police wore shorts. Harlows, we are living in the 21st century. Please kindly treat our intelligence with some decency please. Thanks.

  25. Ant Eater said


    So, as per normal – please move on ….. another incident another
    day another time. Life goes on.

  26. patriot said

    Sincerely agree with Ant Eater,
    there is no point and no need to pursue the ‘Escape’ any further, it is not important to us the lay citizens. Anti Government elements will be around no matter who forms the Regime, when such elements are around, the Regime will have to ‘counter’ them. The Counter measures maybe extreme(anything goes) in themselves and are there beyond our layman understandings.

    Right now, the Result of the Latest Malaysian Election Result makes a good subject for discussions as the Malaysian Politics(Leadership especially) are quite similar to Singapore. The Inflation, rising costs of living, freedom of expressions, wrong forecast of developments(economics and others) etc are better topics for discussions.


  27. Dingo said

    I shall take the Father’s advice next time I want to go jungle trekking in Singapore.

    “Berries, berries…”

  28. xtrocious said

    Maybe we should also start asking about the COST of this operation to recapture MSK…

    How much has it cost US – the citizens of Singapore?!

    Where is the accountability for this waste of our taxpayers’ monies for their mistake/lapse/oversigh?!

  29. Prawn Cracker said

    One Two buckle my shoe.
    Three Four shut the door.
    Five Six pick up sticks.

    Oops, it’s already been one month. Have they caught him.
    No lah BUT they have caught someone else – no fish prawn also can.

  30. Geylang Resident said

    Geylang residents hope he is in Geylang so that the security will improve here with all the checks.

  31. Dingo said

    Maybe it really is spiritual intervention. I’m going to convert.

  32. Jason Loke said

    On April Fool day, I ask this question again:-

    Does Mas Selamat actually (visually) walks with a limp on the left leg or only when walk briskly with a limp or only when he runs, then it would be obvious ?

    I sugget the reward to increase to $1 million to heighten our sense of alertness.

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