I seriously do not mean to belittle the entire situation, the entire explanation nor the entire episode that happened in February. In a certain sense, the way the whole thing was explained reminded me of some wu ling xiao shuo (武侠小说 – thanks to reader ty) where the emperor will seek the advisor of his officials and some chap (yes, chap) will warn the emperor of an impending catastrophe when some 7 stars align in a particular pattern.

Somehow, the "confluence of 3 factors" sounded as if the escape was divinely – that it was all meant to happen… aiyah, of course not lah, what were you thinking?

THE Committee of Inquiry (COI) found that Mas Selamat was able to escape from Whitley Road Detention Centre on Feb 27 because of the confluence of a number of factors.

The factors were released in the executive summary of the COI’s report by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng in Parliament on Monday.

First the Gurkha guard escorting Mas Selamat did not stop him from closing the urinal cubicle door in the Family Visitation Block toilet.

Second, the ventilation window in the urinal cubicle from which Mas Selamat escaped had not been secured by grilles.

Finally, there was a security weak point in the perimeter fencing where the outer and inner perimeter fences converged with an enclosed staircase and walkway leading to the Family Visitation Block was not detected.

In addition, the COI found that the following factors might have contributed to providing Mas Selamat more time to make good his escape:

  • The two Gurkha guards and the Special Duty Operative (SDO) – a junior ISD officer – escorting Mas Selamat failed to respond immediately and decisively when they noticed Mas Selamat was taking too long in the urinal cubicle;
  • The SDO failed to check if Mas Selamat had changed out of his detention attire into his civilian clothes. The COI believes that he must have been wearing at least two layers of clothing when he escaped from the toilet;
  • No one was actively monitoring the two CCTV cameras covering the outer and inner perimeter fences at the rear of the Family Visitation Block.

The COI found no evidence that Mas Selamat had help with his escape.

The committee also believed that that Mas Selamat was testing the reaction of the Gurkha guards by closing the urinal cubicle door on previous occasions.

This would also have given him the opportunity to climb onto the ledge in the urinal cubicle to survey the rear of the Family Visitation Block.

The COI said that Mas Selamat had planned his escape on Feb 27 because he wore his detention attire under his civilian clothes before entering the toilet.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 21st April 2008

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