Saturday, June 14, 2008

Complacent Again?

In view of the latest embarrassment created by the double escape attempt at the Subordinate Court, Teo Ho Pin said he would 'definitely query the Home Affairs Ministry again' at the next parliamentary sitting next month.

What's wrong with the subordinates of Wong Kan Seng in Home Affairs Ministry? Why do they have to embarrass their Boss again? Or do you really want him sacked?

While googling for the latest on Mas Selamat, I came across Expected Analysis in TOC. Though it's more than 3 months since the Great Escape, it good to read what written below.

I'm posting it here as the questions asked are most relevant and yes, another reminder for all of us not to be complacent and be ever vigilant of spins and wag the dog!
  1. Expected Analysis on April 26th, 2008 5.08 pm : Comment 37 of The Mas Selamat Scandal from The Online Citizen

    Committee of Citizen Statement On The Committee of Sensible Inquiry
    On The Ministerial Statement Made In Parliament On The Committee Of Inquiry Findings On The Escape Of Mas Selamat

    Dear President, MM, SM, PM, PAP ministers, MPs, NMPs, Fellow Singaporeans,

    The Committee of Sensible Inquiry (CSI) was convened to vet the report submitted to DPM, Wong Kan Seng. This is necessary as the citizens feel that the DPM’s choice of the COI members constitutes potential conflict of interest between the DPM, the government and the citizens. As such, transparency, accountability and liability will be subject to less than independent scrutiny.

    After having exercised due diligence over the COI’s report, the following points of contentions and unexplained circumstances are herein, put forward for public awareness and discussion.

    1. Reference: Statement Points 13 & 14
    Mas Selamat was escorted to locker room to change into civilian clothes. He stood behind a column of lockers to change.

    CSI’s query:
    WRDC is a detention centre with well-established prison protocol. Therefore, detainees there won’t get any privilege of privacy. Given common sense, a detainee’s clothes are subject to checks, for those stripped and for those put on, unless there is no visible clothing on him/her.

    2. Reference: Statement Point 16
    The guard waited for a few minutes outside the urinal cubicle door with the sound of the tap water running and Mas’ trousers slung over the top of the cubicle door.

    CSI’s query:
    a. The urinal cubicle is not equipped with toilet bowl nor shower. We find it inconceivable that the guard would wait for a few minutes, knowing very well that the most Mas can do inside was passing urine, which at most would take less than a minute.

    b. It is human knowledge that men do not remove their trousers to pass urine under normal circumstances. The guard, being a man, is fully aware of this anomaly if indeed, Mas did remove his trousers. The guard would had sense this foul play and done the necessary, unless he was aware that Mas was engaged in some self-service acts.

    c. The cubicle door does not extend to the ceiling and the sound of the running tap water was not possible to mask the purported escape as the guard was in such close proximity. The handle-less window, although without grilles, would not facilitate an easy escape without creating noises. The sound of the running tap water cannot possibly be as loud as a torrential rain unless designed and equipped to be so.

    d. The woman ISD officer outside when alerted, had to summon an Assistant Case Officer to check on Mas. This is totally unbelievable when the gurkha guard was right outside the cubicle door to do it immediately.

    e. CSI is of the opinion that the guards and the ISD officers are such professionally trained security personnel to be able to commit such incoherent errors.

    f. The uninstalled window grille is not crucial to the escape as the meticulous planning and design of the overall security measures make it impossible to escape from the detention centre.

    3. Reference: Statement Point 19
    The COI finds no conclusive evidence of the escape route Mas took after climbing out of the toilet window. It surmises that Mas could have climbed onto the roof of an enclosed staircase and walkway at the section where the perimeter fencing converges with this enclosed staircase and walkway. Mas could have jumped over the perimeter fence. COI observed that the baju kurong which Mas was wearing, was found in the forested area outside the perimeter fence.

    CSI’s query:
    a. The fact that no conclusive evidence of the escape route can be established may also point to the fact that the escape did not occur at all.

    b. Where the enclosed staircase and walkway converge with the perimeter fencing, this so-called weakness would had been factored with the appropriate security measures in the planning stage.

    c. No evidence was presented on the distance between the closest jump-off point and the perimeter fence. Whether it is possible to simply jump over the fence is a critical factor that must be established to support this theory.

    d. The baju kurong which Mas was reported wearing and which was found outside could had been placed there prior to the search if the escape did not occur in the first place.

    4. Reference: Statement Point 25
    In my view, the security weakness of this window is the single most crucial factor which enabled Mas to escape. The omission to fully secure this ventilation window in the Family Visitation Block toilet used by detainees was a glaring weakness which should have been rectified, and not dealt with in an ad hoc manner by sawing off the window handle.

    CSI’s query:
    CSI emphasized that the uninstalled window grille is not crucial to the escape as the meticulous planning and design of the overall security measures make it impossible to escape from the detention centre. That the supposedly highly qualified superintendent of WRDC did not see it necessary to grille the window supports our notion. Therefore, this cannot be a source to channel the blame.

    5. Reference: Statement Point 32
    The CCTV coverage of the area was in the midst of being upgraded. At the time of the escape, there were two CCTV cameras mounted at the location where Mas climbed out of the Family Visitation Block. However, these cameras were not commissioned yet. The system is still in its testing and validation stage. As such, there was no recording or active monitoring of these cameras.

    CSI’s query:
    Given that WRDC is such an important detention centre housing terrorists, it is simply beyond logic to have non-active monitoring nor recording cameras even in this case where upgrading is on-going.

    There was no mention of the other cameras in the vicinity. Is the DPM suggesting that all cameras were not functioning nor recording at that time, in the midst of the upgrading? Not commissioned does not necessarily mean that they are not working.

    Since no escape point could be confirmed in the first place, this is subject to further clarification. It is also possible that no evidence of escape could be presented from the recordings, which explained for the non-commissioned cameras.

    The Post Incident Response
    CSI strongly chastises the DPM and his subordinates for the rather mediocre and comical info provided to the public over the days after the escape. This is unbecoming of a ministry handling national security. Descriptions on Mas were simply confusing. This can only be excusable if Mas was new to the detention centre.

    CSI is of the opinion that to escape from the centre is near impossible if unaided. Not unless all the security measures failed at the same time and the centre is unmanned. The only other explanation for this episode is that no escape took place.

    CSI unreservedly thank all those activated and involved in the manhunt including the innumerous sufferings and inconveniences endured in this episode. The government is expected to compensate all as a token of appreciation.

    Other highly suspect and contentious misdemeanor identified by CSI:

    1. The appointment and composition of the COI is highly questionable with conflict of interest and collusion a distinct possibility. Of equal glaring concern is that the DPM chose to stick to his choice when this anomaly was highlighted. However, the greatest concern is that the PM did not object to this when it is so obvious that accountability and integrity are at stake in this matter involving the DPM, which will ultimately reflect on the government.

    2. That the COI’s findings was accepted wholesale by the DPM and in turn, by the PM, is shocking and beyond comprehension. With so many points of contentions, the citizens are hard pressed to demand for transparency. A separate COI comprising neutral parties is the only solution for a credible report, more so, in this case involving the integrity and accountability of the highest office in Singapore.

    3. It is puzzling and highly controversial that the DPM chose to exonerate the director of ISD prior to the release of the COI report. There is no doubt of questionable integrity at a time when the DPM himself is subject to accountability and liability pending the COI report.

    Compounding the question of integrity is the fact that the PM saw it fit and proper to endorse his continued confidence for the DPM despite all these disturbing facts of controversial proceedings. As such, the PM’s integrity is now also under the spotlight and subject to scrutiny.

    4. Despite the systemic failures of the current incident along with many previous failings, the DPM was not censured nor penalized or demoted. Incoherently, the PM has embarked on a crusade of exonerating ministers from being accountable for the mistakes of their subordinates despite declaring that ministers are ultimately responsible for their ministries.

    5. Both the PM and the DPM have been exemplary in dodging issues raised by channeling accountability and blame to the guards and the superintendent of WRDC only. Of paramount concern is that this seemingly promiscuous delegation of responsibility has been well-received in parliament with no objection nor abstention of support.

    6. The citizens are highly concerned and disoriented that their $10,000+ per day PM is uttering less than creditable arguments. With 2 casinos in mind, he exhibits pre-occupation with gambling matters in using the throwing of dice to decide on possibly difficult decisions, where a 1 means a straightforward decision while a 6 denotes 6 variable choices of decisions. Very confounding and challenging to try not to get a 6 indeed.

    7. CSI reminds the government that this matter is not properly settled yet. Any call to move on from here will only add fuel to the fire, which in due course, will be difficult to put out. It is in the interest of Singapore that a further thorough investigation be expedited to restore integrity and accountability.


Expected Analysis

A Dedicated Response To Chua Lee Hoon Of ST

“Reading Internet postings often makes my blood boil.”

What a shame! As a journalist, your mind should be as wide as an ocean to accommodate differing views. If you are touting that others should listen to people like you only, it’s time for you to move out rather than move on.

“Too many netizens obviously have not read the full account ………………….etc, etc.”

We believe you have not read enough of what the citizens said and meant or rather, you prefer not to reflect on their views accordingly.

“How many of those called for the resignation of Teo Chee Hean…………….etc.”

Well, this is proof that time, trend and sentiment are vastly different now. The citizens have awakened from their slumber, vowing not to be complacent anymore.

“If a fire…..If a teacher……..etc?

These are rather incoherent examples compared to the escape. You are way off the track.

“Common sense……….or there will no ministers left in no time.”

Are we expected to accept mistakes, blunders, etc, without any fair accountability and responsibility? The last thing we worry about is losing the liable minister. In fact, if there are more of them of such nature, we have to ensure that the problem is rooted out.

“But the Mas Selamat case? What loss has there been, except that of face – mostly?”

A real pity that you were not given a chance to voice this in parliament. All the work, reporting, searches, inconveniences, parliament time, lost productive time, etc, would have been expedited for something you believed is not worth the trouble. The DPM and the PM should have taken your advice to simply brush off this case as a little lost of face matter. Therefore, the COI and Ministerial Statement combined is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money.

“If you talk to businessmen………………no impact on their business decisions.”

As long as business is as usual, we do believe this escape will have no impact on business sentiments.

“After such a signature event……..there has been unprecedented transparency……..”

You are not following the Internet news nor the citizens’ discussion. More likely, you choose to dismiss them. If after reading the report and you have no doubts about it, that’s your opinion. To us, the report presented more questions than before. In fact, the whole saga has become a mystery.

“Yes, there were confusing moments……………………………….”

Well, no thanks for reminding us of this factual blunder. It adds credence to the mystery, no doubt.

“Compare Singapore’s handling………………with America’s equivalent.”

We are responsible for our own and our country’s matter. Therefore, there is no logic in drawing a comparison here unless we believe we are a part of America. Or are you advocating that we should adopt the same as what happened there? Perhaps, you should follow up with your mouthful to Bush. We’ll encourage you to take this initiative.

“If people want transparency……………………..”

Interestingly, you choose not to address the issue of the COI members, which is one of the biggest issues. All we need is an independent COI team to do the necessary.

“As far as heads to roll……………the government made a tactical mistake……………..”

A tactical mistake is your judgement. We fully agree with the DPM that disciplinary action can only be exercised after the due process. Therefore, we strongly feel that your judgment here is flawed. If your judgment is largely accepted, then it proves that the PM and the DPM have been less than competent.

“Word has it ………who has been disciplined and how………………….”

We already knew the safe position of the PM and the DPM plus the director of ISD. We can envisage what will happen to the others. Gurkha guards will be sent home, ISD woman officer dismissed and the superintendent demoted and/or posted out. Until we have the concrete evidence and independent findings, we reserve our rights to cast doubts on this sordid affairs. At the same time, we maintain our calls for transparency and accountability of the DPM in order to justify the disciplinary process.

“Meanwhile, there are many other things………they’ve got no time to think about this.”

We wonder why you would expense so much time and energy to come up with this insight then. Thinking aloud, we feel that you’re trying too hard to impress the PM and the DPM, to the point of being incoherent in certain arguments and examples cited in your article.

Singaporeans are bothered about rising costs as well as government accountability. Looking in perspective, they are closely linked.

“Lets move on……..”

We have. But that doesn’t mean this case has been rested. We just cannot be complacent anymore. We are accountable to ourselves as well.

Finally, allow us to issue this advisory for your attention. Change your mindset to be a real independent journalist. Present arguments and facts for readers’ consideration. Don’t ever attempt to infect your uninvited biased report in readers’ memory. The firewall is operating 24/7 and updated constantly. Most of all, you will lose your credibility and integrity.

Please read Grace Ng’s report on Temasek and GIC’s investment in Sunday Times, 27-4-08, on Page 28. This is what can be termed a balanced report expected of a non-partisan journalist.


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