09 March 2008

Three Thoughts on the Mas Selamat Fiasco

With Mas Selamat, who probably has more posters of himself than the entire population of Singapore, still at large, many questions have been raised and pretty much none answered. Lots of accusations and demands of resignation has been thrown all over, but beyond these political mumbo jumbo, I observed a few aspects of this fiasco which interests me. First is the conspiracy theory that he was killed; second is the question as to whether he's still in Singapore; third being the holy grail of all questioners: how did it happen? Here are my takes:

In the lack of information, it seemed that some people has taken to speculate and believe the possibility that Mas Selamat was killed inside the detention centre and the authorities spun this story to cover it up, fearing the backlash of human rights activists and whatnots.

It hardly need to be said how absurd this is. Suppose this were true. Then a few weeks later the JI members, wondering why their ex-leader has yet to come back to them, will start making noise, and then the whole cover-up will be exposed. To avoid this, the authorities can "catch and kill Mas Selamat" some time later, but that would pose problems with regards to the autopsy and all. And of all that, wouldn't it be simpler to just announce that he has died by unnatural causes like heart attack? Or if that's medically dubious, then say that he choked on a chicken wing. Sure, there may be some questions raised, but as compared to this?

In any case, I truly believe that he has escaped. Now, is he still in Singapore? It all depends on whether it was a planned course or a spontaneous event. If it's the former, then he would be far away from Singapore by now. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that his best chance is to leave Singapore immediately before the authorities can raise the alarm, which is ASAP. If it was spontaneous, i.e. the chance just came and he fled, then he's probably still in Singapore (but of course with help) until the authorities cannot maintain the high level alert.

And the golden question of it all: how did he escape? I do not know for sure, though the supposed Independent Commission is to shed some light on this. But given official statements so far, I think one can do a Sherlock Holmes and pieces them together. We know that he escaped through a toilet. We also know that MM Lee mentioned something about complacency. We know that he's due for a family visit (i.e. the place is open to certain outside people). Now, if we assume, very reasonably, that there are two different kinds of toilet - one for outside people (and maybe the ISD people there) and one for inside people (like Mas Selamat) - and keeping in mind MM Lee's praise of winning the trust of the guards, I think the puzzle sort of comes together.

So that's my thoughts. And if anyone's wondering, I do not think that the four hours lapse is unreasonable. Oh, one more thing: I didn't receive the MMS of his face... how did the government know that I'm bad at recognising people?