22 April 2008

A Disappointing Report on Mas Selamat's Escape

After one month of tedious investigation by the Commission of Inquiry, the report on Mas Selamat's escape is finally released. No, wait. Not the full report, but just the executive summary. Okay, I think Ministry of Home Affairs got me here: when they said they "promised to give the public a full account", it is not equivalent to the complete report. How silly of me to assume so!

In any case, I've briefly glanced through the summary (yes, I'm that free despite my upcoming exams), and to be honest, I thought much of it was just telling us the obvious. It just acts as an official and substantiated confirmation of what many already knew: unsecured window, negligent guards.

The non-working CCTVs is something new, though. However, the summary does not go into details of these non-working CCTVs. For example, is it clear to any persons who see the CCTVs that they are non-functioning ones? And how widespread is this news of non-functionality? Do the guards know? Does Mas Selamat know? Non-working CCTVs are actually okay, in my opinion, so long as its lack of functioning is unknown to the "watched". The construct of the panopticon is, after all, one of the best surveillance concept ever conceived.

Another piece of information worth thinking about is the conclusion that Mas Selamat has been planning his escape and is just waiting for the right time. This is drawn from the fact that Mas Selamat emerged from the Locker Room with two sets of clothes. It is not clear to me what happened in exact, but I think the details are not of importance. What I am more concerned with is that, if Mas Selamat has planned it well, he would've informed and sought external help, and as such, it still puzzles me why the authorities firmly believe he is still in Singapore, and more so in the forests. Personally, I believe it is far likelier that he is off Singapore soil or, if not so, hiding in some obscure urban area. But then again, ISD made it sound like they have some intelligence we don't, so I suppose it is a waste of effort to speculate so much.

I know the COI was suppose to investigate on the detention centre and that only, but I was actually hoping that there were some checks into the poor coordination beyond the installation itself. Specifically, I think many people are concerned with the lack and delay of information from the police, and the immediacy (or lack thereof) of the clamp down across the borders. If the COI did not touch this, this probably means that we will never know, unless there is another inquiry, the reason why there is such poor coordination between the authorities and the public.

To be honest, I am a bit disappointed by the summary. It reveals far too little information and is not wide enough in scope. I think we can only be satisfied for now to listen to any further revelations in the parliament.


The Negative Man said...

On Wednesday, I read a forum letter on My Paper. The letter commended the govt for keeping its word and being transparent by providing the Mas Selamat report.

I thought of your post and reflected on the irony.

Pandemonium said...

Well... the government did keep their words, didn't they? They did give a full account of what happened. It's just that different parties have different interpretations of "full" and "happened".