Blame the Custodians and Complacency

MM Lee said his piece. From the eyes of the founding father, the Gurkhas and ISD, supposed custodians of the Whitley detention centre, are to be blamed. Their complacency, propped up by past successes and fearsome reputation, made them fallible. This declaration is a not so subtle hint and framework to the board of inquiry on who they should apportion blame to and cover-ups would be unacceptable. His point seems like a nuanced counterweight to the public rumblings that the inquiry board is not that independent particularly with the MHA representative inside it. However, responsibility for one of Singapore’s most bizarre prison breaks would however not stick on the political masters, as MM Lee implied not so many words. When the board of inquiry eventually issues their report, let’s see to what extent MM Lee’s opinions played a role in their findings.

I find it slightly poetic. MM Lee depends on the Gurkhas for his personal security. He depended on the ISD for his political survival. With his disappointment with two of Singapore’s security institutions and sense of resignation that they failed, does it mean he can no longer trust and use them like he did before? MM Lee’s sentiments might upset the historical loyal compact between the ruling elites and parts of the local security apparatus in the years to come as accountability comes first.

MM on Mas Selamat’s escape
Weekend • March 8, 2008

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew does not believe Mas Selamat Kastari poses a threat if he remains at large in Singapore.

This is because it is not a planned escape and he does not have the resources to harm Singapore if he remains in the country.

But if the Jemaah Islamiyah leader has escaped across the border, Mr Lee warned that Singaporeans would have to watch out for a return hit by Mas Selamat.

The Minister Mentor, who wrapped up his three-nation visit to the Middle East on Friday, was speaking to the Singapore media in Bahrain.

Mr Lee said Mas Selamat is a wily person who managed to persuade his custodians, and Singapore has learnt an important lesson on complacency from the episode.

“I give him full marks for winning the confidence of his custodians – that he’s completely docile, completely passive and he’s going to remain in captivity. It is … stupid to believe we are infallible. We are not infallible. One mistake and we get a big explosive in (our) midst,” said Mr Lee.

“So, let’s not take this lightly. I think it’s a very severe lesson on complacency.”

Since Mas Selamat’s escape on Feb 27, police have received 950 calls and email messages about the case. Anyone with information on the fugitive should call the police at 999 or email them at


5 Responses

  1. […] Asia Times Online What Mas Selamat escape has done to community bondingTODAY From The Blogs Blame the Custodians and ComplacencyThe Sun Shines On So whose complacency is MM Lee referring to?Where Bears Roam Free Don’t Give Us […]

  2. […] Break, Singapore Style – For What Its Worth: Manhunt – The Sun Shines on Singapore: Blame the Custodians and Complacency – Random Thoughts Of A Free Thinker: “Physical breach” = Toilet Windows Without Bars? – […]

  3. Who hire the custodian?
    Guess that why he hates the media 🙂

  4. He still trust the foot soldiers, it is just that he does not trust their superiors anymore.

  5. Once the COI report is out, we shall see how things will fall apart.

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