As the Mas Selamat Kastari manhunt goes into the tenth day (which means the ripple effect is still ongoing – bitter NSFs aplenty are being activated on standby while resentful commuters are being put through stringent checks and nasty traffic conditions along the causeway in a bid to boost security levels), there does not seem to be much headway made in the investigations on the biggest manhunt in Singapore’s history.

Meanwhile, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has finally stepped up to address Singaporeans on the issue of the fugitive’s escape, following his week-long visit to three Gulf nations, with what I think is the most logical reasoning made on the escape that I have read in the papers so far.

There were no airs of pretence as he blasted the authorities for their complacency in dealing with Singapore’s security, and for not bearing in mind that they were dealing with a convict who has had several successful escapes in the past.

Also, he placed the key emphasis on deducing what are Mas Selamat’s options, it being “a game of tracing possibilites” and following up on these possibilites instead of focusing strongly on a manhunt on the grassroots level, which certainly makes more sense than what the authorities have put forth. 

Through this incident, I have gotten the inkling that the authorities of Singapore are, really, rather disoriented. Here’s some instances where the logic does not really quite add up for me:- 

1. News was made public only 4 hours after the prison break, thereby effectively giving him a four-hour headstart against the watchful eyes of the public who could have seen him pass by during that duration of time but yet were oblivious to who he was at that instant. As MissyBitchy claims in her comment in the prior post – this was very likely a cover-up attempt gone awry.

2. Will the lag of four hours in releasing the news to the public actually result in a difference in the reaction of the public? They claim that they did not want the public to be too panicked or shocked or scared or worried. However, with the lag, wouldn’t those reactions be magnified multiple times? I mean, even after those four hours, he could not get caught?

3. Whatever happened to the security cameras at the Whitley Road Detention Centre?

4. Ditto to the fences surrounding the centre? The guards on patrol?

5. It was initially claimed that Selamat limps on his left leg and asked the public to keep a lookout for any suspicious looking characters with a limp on the left leg. A few days later, they retract that statement and claim that the limp is only visible when the fugitive briskwalks or runs.

6. Details of what Selamat was wearing during his escape was only made known to the public about seven days after his escape. Prior to that, the police were asking people to keep a lookout for suspicious characters wearing clothes which do not fit, disguises etc. Somehow I get the feeling that they’ve been watching too many police drama serials.

Oh well, we’ll just have to keep an eye on how things go over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, the latest report is that the entire saga has taken a sudden twist, with a 50-year-old bus driver to be charged for deliberately providing false information with regard to the Mas Selamat manhunt, hence sending the police on the wrong trial. I seriously cannot believe how incredibly shallow some people are. While the authorities have some flaws in logic to work on, they are seriously not that dumb to be unable to link two-and-two together, or to follow up on leads.

Imagine the bus driver trying to vent his anger on another motorcyclist who got involved in a road rage incident with him by sabotage – he actually provided the motorcyclist’s license plate number to the police and claimed that Mas Selamat was riding pillion!

The bus driver really needs some serious psychiatrist treatment.

The Manhunt Is On

March 4, 2008

It has been more than 120 hours since Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari made his successful prison break (or as most online spoofs go, “Toilet Break”) from the Whitley Road Detention Centre.

He is Singapore’s most wanted man, believed to pose a threat to the public considering how the fugitive had once planned to crash a hijacked plane into our very own Changi Airport in 2002.

All visitors to this blog are strongly encouraged to be vigilant and to keep your eyes peeled open for this man, and to notify the police immediately upon any possible sight of him.

Seriously, with his face currently plastered all around the island, and with the three telecommunication companies (M1, StarHub and SingTel) mass MMS-ing his photograph to all their subscribers in an unprecedented move, his face is literally everywhere. Or as Mr Miyagi snidely puts it, a free terrorist wallpaer.

What amazes me is the minimal amount of credit the authorities are willing to give him, considering quotes from the press releases and interviews which have been released in the papers so far.

Yes, the authorities claim not to want to cause unnecessary public panic, but on the downside, all these cover-up measures may lead to the public being caught unawares should anything bad happen.

We see Police Assistant Commissioner Wong Hong Kuan explaining that “When he escaped, we believe he was unaided, and therefore he does not have access to money, vehicles, modes of transport.”

Some food for thought here – Mas Selamat Kastari held a day job as a mechanic. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if he manages to hotwire a vehicle! In addition, as locals would probably know, the recent brouhaha over CashCard thefts.. … If he’s lucky enough to hotwire a vehicle with a CashCard in its CashCard slot, there you have it – he has access to money, vehicles, and modes of transport.

And in a bid to conceal his identity while on the run, he will supposedly match the following description to look out for – “Any person wearing ill-fitting clothes, avoiding eye contact, or trying to conceal his appearance by wearing a cap, sunglasses or coat” What I cannot fathom is how indelibly stupid the authorities assume him to be, while putting themselves in pole position. He had experience in escaping confinement before, he will probably know what to do and what not to do.

All this don’t quite seem to add up to me.

In addition, I came to the realisation that if the authorities did not adopt the initial wait-and-see approach, resulting in the four hour lapse time between his escape and the time when the news was broken to the public, Mas Selamat Kastari will not have gotten that four-hour headstart over the whole of Singapore.

It was revealed that about an hour after the escape, the manager of a petrol kiosk on Whitley Road said he saw a man resembling Mas Selamat limping up a flight of steps on a hill slope near Malcom Park. There you have it – if he saw the man and if he knew the man was a wanted terrorist by then, the police could have been alerted by then and he wouldn’t have had the least bit of opportunity to escape or go into hiding.

By the way, what’s with the sudden relevation that his limp is not pronounced while walking but only visible when running or brisk walking? Seems like the information being leaked is rather misleading!

But in the meantime, Singapore can relish in Nation Bonding #2, following how the grassroots bonded to pull off the successful Youth Olympics Games bid. mrbrown offers an interesting write-up on how Singaporean ministers are pretty much a positive-thinking lot, with them enthusing on how the nation has united strongly together in its will to detain and bring down the fugitive.

Oh well, the Catch 22 (no pun intended) is that, despite all the above illogicalities put forth and the grievances against said party, Mas Selamat Kastari still must be caught.

As such, I appeal to one and all yet again to be vigilant and keep your eyes open for the above man. (Picture taken from blog “Alvinology“, which took the picture from CNA)

PS: On a lighter note, does it seem to anyone else that the picture of the shaved Mas Selamat Kastari (without his moustache and goatee) is actually a Photoshopped version of the original picture?