After the COI findings were released, many people (at least from the straitstimes.com online forums and various forums) including Mr Low Thia Khiang felt or hinted that DPM Wong, as the Home Affairs Minister, should resign to take responsibility for the escape of Mas Selamat. Personally, I feel that DPM Wong should not resign just simply based on these reasons:

  1. The confluence of the 3 factors have nothing to do with DPM Wong
    1. He wasn’t the Gurkha guard escorting Mas Selamat when he escaped
    2. He wasn’t the contractor who was responsible for the missing grill of the ventilation window
    3. He wasn’t the architect/contractor/planner who laid the design for the perimeter fence
    4. He was in a Parliament seating when Mas Selamat escaped
  2. The additional factors have nothing to do with DPM Wong
    1. He was in a Parliament seating and wasn’t able to notice if Mas Selamat was taking too long in the toilets
    2. He would not have been able to check if Mas Selamat was wearing 2 layers of clothes
    3. He was, and I repeat, in a Parliament seating and would not have been able to monitor the CCTV cameras – speaking of which, it’s probably time to bring in terrestrial TV for mobile TV
  3. DPM Wong did not render assistance to Mas Selamat
    1. He was in a Parliament seating when Mas Selamat escaped

There are probably many other reasons to justify why DPM Wong should not even be blamed for anything. Some have even said that Mas Selamat should have been put in a prison or at least a military detention barrack. However, at that time of arrest, Mas Selamat was a limping man; I mean, he’s a limping man for crying out loud. At best, the whole incident was an honest mistake and no one should be removed from office. In fact, they should still remain in office in full view of everyone. So… stop harping on it… let’s move on!

Of course, I would like to part with the following story that I got from the Internet… nothing to do with DPM Wong… not directly related, but of Yue Fei and the people who betrayed him.

On this date in 1142, the great Chinese general Yue Fei was executed by the Song dynasty he had loyally served.

Loyalty is what Yue Fei is known for, so unbendable that going on nine centuries later it can still work as shorthand for understanding the daily paper.

Yue fought for the Song Dynasty against the neighboring Jin Dynasty. He was a disciplined commander, an honorable and well-studied man — the very Confucian ideal.

The tale about him — the reason he is so well-recalled as a model of patriotism — is that his counterattack after the Jin overran the northern half of the Song realms was so effective that it threatened to repel the invaders. On the cusp of conquering the old northern capital, Kaifeng, he was supposed to have been ordered to lift the siege and return — an order Yue obeyed for the safety of his kingdom, even though it meant fatally confiding himself to his enemy’s power.

The story’s dramatics are to be doubted; he seems in fact to have been recalled (with other officers) after the battle and duly cashiered into a civilian post months before dying. Much of Yue Fei’s biography is recorded by undependable sources such as a fantastical biography written decades after his death, and a historical novel dating to centuries later. Even his death — whether execution or simple murder, and the means by which it was effected — is not reliably reported.

But his place in the firmament of Chinese heroes is well beyond dispute. Yue Fei was rehabilitated not long after his death, and a shrine built (still on public display to this day) with statues of his persecutors, often abused by visitors, carved kneeling in supplication.

And just as Yue Fei is a pinnacle of honor and loyalty, those who struck him down remain contemporary emblems of infamy. It is said that the Song minister Qin Hui, pressed for his reasons for ordering Yue’s execution, responded to the effect that “Though it isn’t sure whether there is something that he did to betray the dynasty, maybe there is.” As a result, the phrase maybe there is or it could be true denotes trumped-up charges in Chinese. In a more toothsome vein, the traitors who slew the general are also supposed to have given Chinese cuisine the fried-dough dish youtiao (油条).

Source: http://www.executedtoday.com/2008/01/27/1142-yue-fei/

Hope you enjoyed the story.

This post gives a prelude on my perspective (and a highlight in Parliament where Mr Low Thia Khiang seemed to have self-pwn’d) on the recent brouhaha on whether our Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Affairs Minister should quit. Strangely enough, no one seem to like to read the "Perspective" section in this blog – if the number of pongs is anything to go by. Well, I guess serious stuffs with non-juicy titles are really hard to get pongs, aren’t they?

Anyway, apparently Mr Low Thia Khiang threw a question at PM Lee if the latter would clarify on the principle in which the Government applied in looking at salary of the minister pitching to corporate world vis-a-vis when it comes to accountability and responsibility.

Here, if I may translate loosely, it’s indirectly hinting at the question "highly paid personnel in corporate organizations are fired when they make a mistake, shouldn’t this apply to ministers in the Government?" or if you still don’t get, it probably means "shouldn’t DPM Wong be fired for the escape of Mas Selamat?"

To which, PM Lee returned the question and asked if Mr Low thinks that DPM Wong should be fired because of this incident… it’s like…

In school

Your teacher made a mistake, say, in giving wrong marks, or failing someone by mistake, or failing to ensure the safety of some student, or letting some students play truant… and your principal asks you "do you think your teacher should be fired?" and holds a cane menacingly.

In work

Your boss made a mistake and failed to secure a deal and your boss’ boss asks if you would like your boss to be fired? Or in another scenario, your sales department fails to close a major deal and your CEO announces it during some general meeting and he asking you if you think that the sales manager should be fired.

At home

Your father’s sister’s husband’s sister’s husband’s brother failed to look after their Rott Weiler and one of them escaped (and possibly going around and biting people) and your father asks you if you think that his sister’s husband’s sister’s husband’s brother should be kicked out of the family clan…

It’s like… duh…

Does Low think Wong Kan Seng should quit?

MR LOW THIA KHIANG: A lot of people, including myself, cannot reconcile the principle which the Government applied in looking at salary of the minister pitching to corporate world vis-a-vis when it comes to accountability and responsibility. Would the PM clarify?

PM LEE: I thought the member would eventually come to this question…

I have to make a judgment who is responsible at what level, and I’ve discussed this with the DPM and I agree with his judgment and I have confidence in him.

The DPM was here, the member yesterday had full opportunity to question him…If any questions showed that the DPM was not up to this, that he was to blame, he gave the wrong instructions, he told people not to grille up the window, he suggested that we didn’t need so much fencing, therefore this happened, he (Mr Low) should have raised it.

Nothing happened.

Today the member comes around and throws a general cloud and says you’re well paid, you should resign.

Let me ask the member whether he thinks the DPM ought to resign because of this?

(Pause. Mr Low remains silent and does not answer.)

No answer.

So I think that settles the point.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 23rd April 2008

It was brought to our attention on the post by iantimothy on ian.onthereddot.com with regards to the post titled "What DK, Simplyjean & Cobalt Paladin Tell Us About Ping.sg". In particular, we find a statement in his post misleading. The paragraph, reproduced without prejudice is as follows:

  • Yesterday I met up with Ridz at the Starbucks located at Raffles City opposite Chijmes.
  • DK was there and I think Jean from simplyjean was also there.
  • I witnessed ( wah..make it sound so dramatic ) DK asking for a little back-scrating from Ridz to get Jean a pong for one of her entries.

The first 2 statements provided the context for the third (3rd) statement, where the misleading statement lies. Whilst it may be true that DK was asking for a little back-scrating (sic) from Ridz, but the objective was not "to get Jean a pong for one of her entries".

Simply Jean does not solicit the service of others for pongs in Ping.sg. While Simply Jean may publicise ping URLs corresponding to posts on Simply Jean, we do not encourage nor persuade others to propagate a mandatory pong. The provision of a pong should always be in the freewill of the respective readers.

A reply is made in iantimothy’s blog and is awaiting moderation. The reply is reproduced below:

Jean | 22-Apr-08 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Hi there!

Nice observations, and I agree with krisandro that it’s very well written. Just that… there’s a minor correction here (due to some confusion over construction of the sentence =P ):

DK was there and I think Jean from simplyjean was also there. I witnessed ( wah..make it sound so dramatic ) DK asking for a little back-scrating from Ridz to get Jean a pong for one of her entries.

I thought it sounded like:

1. DK asking for a little back-scratching from Ridz… (which I think was what the statement meant)

2. … to get Jean a pong for one of her entries (DK asking Ridz to give Jean a pong? i.e. DK asking Ridz to click on one of Jean’s post?)

Heh heh… I wasn’t involved in the entire discussion between Ridz and DK yesterday, but I think DK was asking Ridz to give him a pong on a post which was about me (”Simplyjean is a Power Blogger“?).

Yup yup. That was all I wanted to clarify. But yes, interesting observations you have there – gives me a little food for thought with regards to what’s happening in the real world.

The entire post is reproduced without prejudice below:

wanted to comment on this for sometime. Cobalt Paladin highlighted something which was part of what I wanted to say in his post DK is Power Blogger! Sometime ago, I wrote a post – Is There A Need For Ping.sg?

For those who might not remember the earlier days of Ping.sg and the leaderboard, entries entered the leaderboard based on the number of Pongs they got, just like now, except that then, anyone could contribute to a Pong. Now, you need to be a member and logged into the site to make your Read count as a Pong.

I’ve tried to look for stats on the site to see whether under the new system, the entries with the top Pongs are also those with the most Reads ( ‘Reads’ is the count of the number of people who click on an entry ). I couldn’t. If anyone knows of where these stats can be obtained, do leave a comment.

The earlier system gave rise to the practice of link-baiting to get the attention of the wider group of users who either are not members of the site or don’t log on when using the site. Link-baiting is definitely still going on but under the new system, they seem to rise less often to the leaderboard because the members of Ping.sg seem more savvy.

Based on my totally unscientific observations, the leaderboard has been exhibiting the DK-effect after the new system was implemented. What is the DK-effect? Simple really – it is where a core group of members pong each other entries until they get to the leaderboard and let the public (non-core group) take over. This is natural. If I know who you are, if we hang out, if we chat, if we msn, if we basically get social with each other, it is probably not presumptuous to say I’ll read your posts and more often than others.

This isn’t pong cheating in the sense of setting up multiple accounts and using them to pong entries of your own blogs.

However, this current state of affairs definitely reduce the effectiveness of the leaderboard being a filtering mechanism at least in the wider sense of what interests the readers of Ping.sg and probably more importantly, what are the posts worth reading. What the leaderboard has become then is a reflection of who the core members of Ping.sg are, maybe even who is the most popular people in this core group and their interests in the context of blog posts they read.

Which of course is perfectly fine.

Ping.sg never had any pretensions of being the community meta blog for ALL Singaporean bloggers nor was its main aim ( at least from what I have read about Ping.sg ) to be a tool for discovering and filtering. From the earliest post I can find on the blog, the aim was to build a thorough database of blogs and allow the bloggers to build communities.

Would like to digress and say there is nothing contradicting about the two aims of NOT building a community for ALL Singaporean bloggers and at the same time building a THOROUGH database of Singapore blogs.

Now, I’ve gone on a rather meandering path to get to this point. Ping.sg is now a place where a core group of people come together to play and the rest of the people are allowed to participate either as casual observers, people trying to join the core group or individuals trying to contribute to the community if not rise to prominence in the wider community without actually being part of the core group. This seems to me to be a natural progression of any type of group.

Yesterday I met up with Ridz at the Starbucks located at Raffles City opposite Chijmes. DK was there and I think Jean from simplyjean was also there. I witnessed ( wah..make it sound so dramatic ) DK asking for a little back-scrating from Ridz to get Jean a pong for one of her entries.

Back-scratching among a core group of people from any community is natural. In politics, more specifically, in Singapore politics, we call these core group the elites and a subset of that group is people affiliated with the PAP. When we talk about back-scratching happening in other countries, we use the term nepotism.

So, here is the thing. If we do it at our level, why should we expect any different from the people above.

Just because of the stuff they say and the stuff they do? Just because of how they police us in what we can say and do. If you trace past discussions on Ping.sg, you would notice at least one case where the core members of Ping.sg were up in arms against explicit pong cheating.

Same difference.

So back to the actual point of this post. Ping.sg to me is an interesting example of how communities progress. Not that it is unexpected. Just that it is rather ironic, that bloggers, not necessarily those in the core group of Ping.sg tend to be more vocal about the government yet the two main aggregaters of content online which are blogger community powered seem to exhibit the same attributes and tendencies as the very thing we seem to be against.

You only hate power when you don’t have it.


I will make the concession that yesterday was a one-off. That no other member has ever or will ever pong a post just for the sake to register a pong instead of it being a result of being genuinely interested to read the post of a friend/fellow member. However, this only means Ping.sg might not be a convenient example to use.

Once again, we would like to thank all our readers for supporting Simply Jean.

The Singapore Government is monitoring the rice situation closely and is assuring everyone that the rice shortage situation is under control. In fact, they even assured that all the rice importers are behaving well and not doing any hanky panky under the guise of inflating costs. However, a lot of people are complaining that rice is beginning to be too expensive and are seeking help even to survive.

So, whose fault is it anyway? Of course it’s all our fault! You see, if the outflow of rice is slower, than the inflow of more expensive rice will be slower… or at least that’s what I think. I’m not an economist. Blame all the kiasu people who bought extra packets of rice. Blame all the extra kiasu people who bought all the cheapo lousy rice. Blame all the people who eat rice… duh?!

MINISTER of State for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said Singapore’s supply of rice was adequate despite growing concerns of tightness in domestic stocks of the staple food.

The government is monitoring the rice market closely, he told Parliament on Monday.

‘Our rice importers have been conducting their business responsibly and maintaining normal supplies to consumers, despite the volatility in global markets,’ Mr Iswaran said.

He added that there was no evidence of hoarding by rice importers and said authorities would punish such behaviour.

‘We have no reports of any profiteering or any anticompetitive behavior by our rice importers … they have been very responsible,’ Mr Iswaran said in response to questions from lawmakers.

‘As a condition of their license, rice importers are not allowed to engage, directly or indirectly, in price fixing or other unfair trade practices relating to the import or sale of rice,’ he said.

Mr Iswaran said retail prices of rice have risen about 10-15 per cent since January. That’s an increase of about S$2 for each 10-kg packet of rice.

A sharp rise in the price of rice is hitting consumer pocketbooks and raising fears of public turmoil in the many parts of Asia where rice is a staple.

Part of a surge in global food costs, rice prices on world markets have jumped 50 per cent in the past two months and at least doubled since 2004.

Experts blame rising fuel and fertiliser expenses as well as crops curtailed by disease, pests and climate change.

There are concerns prices could rise a further 40 per cent in coming months. — AP

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 21st April 2008

So what really happened? Well, the sequence of events are all here, in pictorial form. But because there are 7 image files (which is good for non-flash installed browsers and not huge too) and I don’t think everyone wants to load this post every time they come here, you’d have to click below to continue viewing the pictorial sequences. Are you ready?

Read the rest of this entry »

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

Yup, here’s the picture. In all of it’s full glory! =P

mas-selamat-toilet-1

Picture: The inside of the toilet

 

mas-selamat-toilet-2  mas-selamat-toilet-3 
mas-selamat-toilet-4  mas-selamat-toilet-5
L-R: The stuffs that lead to Mas Selamat’s escape
 

Hmn… strange that detention centers have no grills on their toilet windows? They are probably assuming that "even if you can climb out of the window, there’s no way you can climb out of the perimeter fence". Hmm… sorry, was there a perimeter fence?

IN THE executive summary on the report of Mas Selamat Kastari’s escape from Whitley Road Detention Centre (WRDC) on Feb 27, the Committee of Inquiry (COI) found that the detainee could have made his escape on Feb 27 in 49 seconds.

In a re-enactment requested by the COI, a Gurkha guard took 49 seconds to retrace Mas Selamat’s possible escape route from the detention centre.

An unsecured window in the toilet of the visitors block allowed him to make the prison breakout.

The executive summary was released by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng in Parliament on Monday.

On Feb 27, the COI found Mas Selamat was taken out of his cell for his family visit scheduled for 4pm to 4.30pm at the Family Visitation Block.

At 3.35pm, two Gurkha guards escorted him to a locker room to change into civilian clothes.

After changing into a light yellow baju kurung and greenish-grey pants, he was escorted by the two guards and a woman Special Duty Operative (SDO) – a junior Internal Security Department (ISD) officer – to the Family Visitation block at 3.54pm.

He asked to use the toilet next to the family visit room to shave and comb his hair.

One guard stood outside the toilet while the other followed him inside.

Mas Selamat used the urinal cubicle and closed the door. He flipped his plants over the ledge above the door. He left the tap running.

After a few minutes, the guard felt that Mas Selamat was taking too long. He alerted the other guard standing outside the toilet, who then reported to the SDO outside the toilet. The SDO asked a male Assistant Case Officer to check on the toilet.

At 4.05pm, the male SDO kicked open the door of the urinal cubicle, Mas Selamat was not inside. The ventilation window pane located above this urinal cubile had been swung open.

An immediate alert was raise that Mas Selamat had escaped.

The COI found that Mas Selamat had about 11 minutes between 3.54pm and 4.05 pm to make his escape.

The COI believes that while in the cubicle, Mas Selamat climbed onto the ledge located just below the ventilation window, pushed open the window and squeezed himself through it.

He probably held on to a water pipe running vertically down the external wall of the toilet.

The COI received forensic evidence from CID that smudges were found on the water pipe, although there were no conclusive fingerprints. A packet of seven rolls of toilet paper was found on the ground, which he could have used to break his fall.

There is no conclusive evidence of the exact route Mas Selamat took to escape.

The COI’s view is that he was likely to have used a route 20m to the right of the ventilation window, where the inner and outer perimeter fences converged with the enclosed staircase and walkway.

Mas Selamat would have scaled the fence, climbed onto the roof of the enclosed staircase and walkway, and jumped over the converged perimeter fences.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 21st April 2008

In what seems to be the closing of a month-long investigation into the escape of Mas Selamat from the Whitley Detention Center, the Committee of Inquiry has released a report detailing the escape of Mas. However, due to the highly sensitive nature of the report, only a short executive summary is available. A ministerial statement is also available, but entails the executive summary as well.

The feeling is that there seems to be some closure to his escape, even though he’s still at large and it’s unlikely that he’ll ever be captured alive. Oh well, nothing much we can do, can we?

For the executive summary (no PDFs, all converted to text), go here. =)

FUGITIVE terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari probably planned his escape over a period of time and seized the opportunity when a ‘confluence’ of factors gave him the break to flee from the Whitley Road detention centre on Feb 27, said Home Affairs minister Wong Kan Seng on Monday.

He gave Parliament a full account of the escape, based on the findings of the Committee of Inquiry (COI), which submitted its report to him on April 10.

The five-page executive summary of the report was also presented in Parliament.

The COI, said Mr Wong, had found ‘no evidence of connivance or collusion’ or any help given to the Jemaah Islamiah leader by anyone within the detention centre.

It took the Jemaah Islamiah leader under 11 minutes between 3.54 pm and 4.05 pm to make his escape – from the time he was brought to the toilet in the family visitation block and the time when the alert to his breakout was raised.

Mr Wong said he agreed with the COI’s findings and accepted all its recommendations.

He added that he was satisfied that the three-member committee had done a thorough job.

Because of the sensitivity of the details, including the identity of the Internal Security Department and other security personnel and the precise work they do, he said the Cabinet has agreed that it is not possible to release the entire report ‘without harming national interest and endangering the men and women who serve the nation’.

‘We had also considered releasing the COI’s report with the sensitive parts blacked out, but that was not feasible as the details are extensive. It would not only make understanding the report difficult, but also fuel the distraction of baseless speculation,’ said the minister.

‘However, we are very conscious that Members of this House and the public have a keen and valid interest in the findings of the COI. Hence, the Government has decided to release the executive summary of the COI report to show that the COI had carefully considered all the issues.’

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 21st April 2008

Below is the executive summary of Mas Selamat’s planned escape, fresh from the oven:

Executive Summary

1. The Committee of Inquiry (“COI”) completed its inquiry into the escape of Mas Selamat bin Kastari (“Mas Selamat”) from Whitley Road Detention Centre (“WRDC”) on Wednesday, 27 Feb 2008. The COI submitted its report to the Minister for Home Affairs on Thursday, 10 Apr 2008.

2. In the process of arriving at its findings and recommendations, the COI was given unrestricted access to highly classified and security sensitive information. The COI also received full cooperation from all relevant agencies.

Mas Selamat’s Escape

3. The COI finds that on Wednesday, 27 Feb 2008, Mas Selamat escaped from WRDC between 3:54pm and 4:05pm. He was scheduled for his weekly family visit from 4:00pm to 4:30pm. The family visit was to take place in an assigned Family Visit Room, in a Family Visitation Block, at WRDC. As part of the family visit routine, Mas Selamat was escorted by two Gurkha Contingent (“GC”) guards and a WRDC Special Duty Operative (“SDO”) to a changing room for him to change out of the WRDC-issued attire into his own civilian clothes. Mas Selamat was then escorted to a toilet located next to the Family Visit Room to shave and comb his hair as part of the family visit routine. After entering the urinal cubicle inside the toilet, Mas Selamat closed the urinal cubicle door. He flipped a pair of greenish-grey pants that he was wearing over the concrete ledge above the urinal cubicle door, and turned on the water tap inside this cubicle.

4. The COI believes that while inside the urinal cubicle, Mas Selamat climbed onto the ledge located just below the ventilation window, pushed open the ventilation window and squeezed himself through it. To help his descent, he probably held on to a water pipe running vertically down the external wall of the toilet. The COI received forensic evidence from CID that smudges were found on the water pipe, although there were no conclusive fingerprints. A packet of 7 rolls of toilet paper was found on the ground adjacent to the external wall, which he could have used to break his fall when he descended.

5. Having climbed down the water pipe, Mas Selamat was on the ground at the rear of the Family Visitation Block. There is no conclusive evidence of the exact route Mas Selamat took to escape. However, the COI’s view is that Mas Selamat was likely to have used a route 20 metres to the right of the ventilation window [as one faces the perimeter fences from the ventilation window]. This is where the inner and outer perimeter fences converged with the enclosed staircase and walkway. Mas Selamat would have scaled the fence, climbed onto the roof of the enclosed staircase and walkway, and jumped over the converged perimeter fences. In a re-enactment requested by the COI, a GC guard took 49 seconds to climb out of the ventilation window in the urinal cubicle, scale the fence, climb onto the roof of the enclosed staircase and walkway, and jump over the converged perimeter fences.

6. The COI did not make any findings as to the route Mas Selamat took after jumping over the converged perimeter fences. Pinpointing a specific route would have been speculative, given the many possibilities and the lack of evidence on this issue. Nonetheless, the COI asked for a re-enactment of the shortest and most direct route from outside the converged fences to the Pan Island Expressway. This attempt was made by a young investigation officer and it took him 2 minutes 44 seconds to do so.

7. The COI believes that the 11 minutes between 3:54pm and 4:05pm would have provided Mas Selamat with ample time to make good his escape from the time he entered the toilet. This is notwithstanding the fact that Mas Selamat is older and less fit than the GC guard and the young investigation officer who had undertaken the re-enactments.

Factors Contributing to Mas Selamat’s Escape

8. The COI finds that Mas Selamat was able to escape because of the confluence of a number of factors. These were:

  • The GC guard escorting Mas Selamat did not stop Mas Selamat from closing the urinal cubicle door in the Family Visitation Block toilet;
  • The ventilation window in the urinal cubicle had not been secured by grilles; and
  • The weakness 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.

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

  • The two GC guards and the SDO escorting Mas Selamat failed to respond immediately and decisively when they noticed Mas Selamat was taking too long in the urinal cubicle;
  • The SDO escorting Mas Selamat failed to check if Mas Selamat had changed out of his WRDC-issued attire into his civilian clothes. The COI
    believes that Mas Selamat must have been wearing at least two layers of clothing when he emerged from the Locker Room; and
  • No one was actively monitoring the two CCTV cameras covering the outer and inner perimeter fences at the rear of the Family Visitation Block.

10. The COI notes that no one individual had full control to bring about such confluence of these factors at the material time. The COI finds no evidence of connivance or collusion with or assistance given to Mas Selamat in his escape on the part of any individual.

11. The COI is of the view that the routine use of the toilet in the Family Visitation Block would have provided him with the opportunity to plan his escape. There was evidence that Mas Selamat was testing the reaction of the GC 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 is also of the view that by the time Mas Selamat was brought out of his cell on 27 Feb 2008, he had intended to escape that day because he wore his WRDC-issued attire under his civilian clothes when he emerged from the Locker Room. However, had the confluence of factors not occurred on 27 Feb 2008, Mas Selamat would probably have deferred putting his escape plan into action. Hence the COI believes that Mas Selamat had pre-planned his escape over a period of time and seized the opportunity provided him by the confluence of a number of factors at the material time.

Post-Escape Response

12. The COI finds that the GC guards’ response following the discovery of Mas Selamat’s escape at 4:05pm was sufficiently prompt and in accordance with procedures. The GC Stand-to plan was immediately activated. The cordon along Onraet Road was set up by 4:10pm, 5 minutes after Mas Selamat’s escape was discovered.

13. The COI also finds that GC HQ’s response was sufficiently prompt. The GC Wing Commander arrived by 4:30pm, within 20 minutes of GC HQ being informed. The GC Trackers, who had been activated, arrived at 4.35pm.

14. After the alarm was raised, Whitley Road Complex (“WRC”) was locked down. The inner and outer gates of WRC were closed and thorough checks were conducted on all vehicles leaving WRC. ISD also sought Police’s assistance to activate resources for search and to establish cordons and road blocks around WRC at 4:20pm.

WRDC’s Operations, Systems and Processes

15. The COI examined WRDC’s operations, systems and processes in the following areas: command and control, communications and coordination,
system of audits, training of GC Guards, joint planning and exercises, risk assessment of detainees, and policy on handcuffs. The COI also examined the actions of various individuals vis-à-vis their responsibilities to assess whether and how these had contributed to the operational lapses.

Recommendations

16. The COI’s view is that the custodial protocols and procedures of WRDC detainees are generally sound. Detainees are secured in individual cells to prevent them from communicating with one another. Different blocks are linked via enclosed walkways to prevent detainees from familiarising
themselves with the layout of WRDC. Access within and across blocks is tightly controlled to prevent detainees from escaping. When a detainee moves within the WRDC compound, he is escorted by at least two GC guards, and his movements are logged. The overall guard to detainee ratio in WRDC is much higher than that in a Prisons facility to ensure tight security. GC guards are also rotated regularly. This also prevents familiarity with detainees.

17. However, the COI finds some weaknesses in operationalising WRDC’s systems and processes. To rectify these weaknesses, the COI recommends the following:

  • Recommendation 1: ISD to assume overall command and control of WRDC, including security.
  • Recommendation 2: ISD to establish a formal framework of communications among the three functional groups (WRDC Administration, GC guards and Operations Group) in WRDC that supplements direct communications between officers from different functional groups on the ground. Where instructions are given or changes occur that have an impact on another functional group, they should be communicated to the latter’s higher management formally, so that appropriate Orders or Standard Operating Procedures (“SOP”) can be updated and training programmes reviewed accordingly.
  • Recommendation 3: As WRDC is an ISD facility, ISD HQ must clarify the responsibilities of officers in all three functional groups in relation to one another. The Superintendent must ultimately take command and control over WRDC’s day-to-day operations, and have oversight of the procedures and practices of all ISD officers and GC guards deployed at WRDC.
  • Recommendation 4: ISD HQ, WRDC Administration and GC HQ to establish a more structured feedback mechanism.
  • Recommendation 5: WRDC Administration and GC HQ to develop a comprehensive training programme for WRDC staff and GC guards
    deployed at WRDC.
  • Recommendation 6: WRDC Administration to develop a more structured framework to communicate risks posed by certain detainees to GC guards.
  • Recommendation 7: WRDC Administration to consider instituting a system of regular audits to ensure that instructions are carried out and procedures are adhered to.
  • Recommendation 8: ISD HQ to institute a system of checks and balances through (1) Regular review of WRDC security by Protective Security
    (“PS”) Command; (2) Process by which WRDC Administration must seek proper security assessment from PS Command in writing before any change in escort procedures or use of facilities by detainees is approved; and (3) the Superintendent must obtain approval from Director, ISD before he overrules any recommendation by PS Command.
  • Recommendation 9: WRDC Administration and GC HQ to jointly develop a robust response plan for major incidents. Joint ground exercises should also be conducted regularly to validate and improve these plans.
  • Recommendation 10: ISD HQ to consider having WRDC purpose-built from design on a new site and to revisit its previous plans to co-locate
    within the Changi Prison Complex.

Conclusion

18. The COI’s recommendations are made with the primary aim of addressing the operational lapses that resulted in Mas Selamat’s escape, and improving the overall system of security at WRDC, to minimise, if not eliminate, the risk of future escapes. If accepted, there is a need to ensure the proper implementation of these recommendations and periodic reviews of their continued effectiveness.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 21st April 2008

Of late not only is the Hand Foot Mouth Disease starting to pick up, but computer viruses are beginning to adapt the recent behavior of their distant cousins.

image

Yes, apparently, the viruses in my laptop are having one helluva time propagating and cross-infecting and are so promiscuous that the same behavior will wipe out the entire nation of Singapore with HIV should it be replicated amongst the citizens. It’s strange that I even let a suspicious looking file named logo1_.vir slip through my fingers as I did a manual check.

Well, thank goodness all the files are cleaned and not quarantined or deleted. I can’t imagine the catastrophe.