Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hunt goes carnival?

The hunt for Mas Selamat continues into its fourth day since the detainee escaped from Whitley Detention Centre on the evening of 27 February 2008.

Besides calling upon the Interpol to help, Singapore has issued a global alert for this wanted criminal.

Back at home, the hunt for Mas Selamat drizzled down to the grassroots. This morning and afternoon, several Members of Parliament and their grassroots volunteers made their rounds into the heartlands of their constituencies, giving out posters and information of Mas Selamat, appealing to the public to call the police once they spot the top wanted man.
The scene was akin to the hustings prior to the General Election, only difference was that the posters did not contain the election candidates but that of Singapore’s most wanted man.

There was not a fitting word to describe the style of the hunt than that of ‘carnival’ as besides the aforementioned husting-style scene, some schools carried out emergency drills, exhibitions against terrorism to drive home the message of anti-terrorism. A large percentage of the Singapore Police Force and Military Force were also deployed, not to mention the vast array of different military and defence automobile. Thus it seems for once, these days, there is a National Day cum Election where the almost full military might of Singapore is displayed and the public engagement via the Members-of-Parliament, grassroots volunteers were set in full swing. Even local private companies also come to the fore to give out flyers on the wanted man. Singtel, M1 and Starhub even sent out MMS containing photos of Mas Selamat to its subscribers. All these efforts are spent just to nab one limping criminal! But it is inevitable as the cat has been let out of the bag and all efforts must not be spared to capture this cat. You can call me sarcastic but I am really disappointed at the Singapore’s security system.

I read in the news that a Singapore Post van was hijacked hours after the escape of Mas Selamat and it has not been found at this moment of writing. The police could not comment further whether this case was linked to the case of Mas Selamat.

Meanwhile, the Singapore Military Force cordoned off Bukit Batok nature reserve, a likely hideout place for Mas Selamat due to its large hectares of forests.

In my opinion, Mas Selamat could not have survived in the open without food and drink for such a long period of time, he might have been harboured by some of his supporters. It is unlikely that Mas had fled Singapore.

IF the police and the military are not be able to find Mas Selamat over the next few days or weeks, should a bounty on Mas Selamat be made?

IF Singapore is not able to recapture Mas Selamat, it is indeed unthinkable since it was also reported that security experts may believe Mas may link up with Indonesia’s most wanted criminal Nordin, another JI’s top leader who was still and large and perpetuate morbid terrorist plans !

Including this case, Singapore has suffered many flaws in its security system, cases which included that of Dave Teo Min (carrying a M16, loaded with live rounds, wandering freely after escaping from his military camp’s guard duties), Ah Hao (murderer of Huang Nan) walking easily and nonchalantly along the causeway and entering Malaysia without any kind of intervention and the like.

Singapore shall revamp its security system. Too often, I witness many old guards at MRT stations whose duties are to check the bags and belongings of suspected passengers. Are they trained or fit enough to ward off terrorists?

Apology from the Home Affairs Minister may not be enough to appease Singaporeans, hopefully Mas Selamat could be captured, following which his ministry should provide a full explanation of the escape of Mas Selamat and plans to avoid such incidents in the future.

This incident has exposed some flaws in the Singapore’s security system. Yes, there can never been a flawless security system, but the escape of Mas Selamat certainly needs serious explanation!

Too often, I have watched the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) touting its professional might on TVs, in advertisements, but I am really concerned whether SAF can really protect Singaporeans in the face of terrorist attacks, as it is already so many days and SAF still could not capture a limping Mas Selamat despites spending lots of resources and manpower.

Ironically this event become the hot news that galvanised Singaporeans into action just after the bid for the Youth Olympic Games

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