Saturday, March 01, 2008

My theory of the Great Escape of Mas Selamat

By now I think even our friends in UK would have heard about Singapore's great embarrassment: the escape of the suspected Jemaah Islamiah terrorist from the Whitley Road detention centre. Having been bombarded by the news I cannot help coming up with my own theory. Heck, just for the fun of it, this is what I think.

I think very likely, he had help. This looks like a very well-planned 'Prison Break'. The people who helped him probably have knowledge of police procedures. So they anticipated what the police would do and that's why he was able to evade capture during the first day.

Any ex-National Service man would know that our uniformed personnel are very good in following SOPs - Standard Operating Procedures. All our contingency and emergency plans are preplanned and laid out in great detail. For example, when I first performed the battalion duty officer function, I had to familiarise myself with various operational plans for various disaster scenarios; such as a plane crash. Even though this was three decades ago, I think the operational style would still be the same. Thus it wouldn’t be difficult for Mas Selamat’s helpers to find out the kind of procedure the police will take once his escape was discovered.

Like YG, I think he would have headed for Bukit Brown cemetery, which is quite deserted. He would have met his accomplice there, changed into jogging gear and cross over Lornie Road and hide in the MacRitchie Nature Reserve which is linked to the Bt Timah nature reserve. Here there are plenty of places to hide, and where food and clothing can be left behind for him.

Hence, I don't understand why during the first few hours, the police concentrated their search in the Malcolm Road and the Dunearn Road areas. Afterall, in order to get to Malcolm Road, he has to cross a very busy Pan Island Expressway, one way or another. Could it be because they were worried that this guy would catch hold of some school kids from St Joseph's Institution or Singapore Chinese Girls School and used them as hostages?

If Mas Selamat had indeed escaped to MacRitchie Reservoir, it would be quite ironical. On the very same afternoon of his escape, I was at MacRitchie Reservoir, and I saw many police personnel and vehicles there for some kind sport event.


Anonymous said...

So much so for defending the pay increase in minister's salary. They cannot even handle a limping terrorist, why pay so much for a Home affair minister who can't handle such trivial matter! DO a way with the minister's salary - even martyrs that die dun get so much money - probably only the 72 virgins they are promised. But did they find out if they are promised female virgins only?

Anonymous said...

It is obvious you do not understand what it means to be in a position of responsibility.

Home affairs minister handles more than just this one "trivial" matter. We pay them to handle many many different things, and to take the blame when people under them screw up (such as the police). Unless we are willing to shoulder that kind of responsibility, i don't think we are in any position to say if they should have their salary done away with.

However, I do believe that heads will roll, and possibly even the minister himself.

Anonymous said...

shameful . a small island who proclaimed himself , the most safety and tide security country in Asia!! What?? Your internal minister is sleeping well !! no other conspiracy theory appearing in here!

Mat Selamat , Singapore not `selamat' . beware he will return soon !!

Anonymous said...

Yes the internal mister might have been sleeping. But i think we are STILL amongst the safest of countries in Asia.

Lam Chun See said...

I think my use of the term 'conspiracy theory' was inappropriate and unintentionally suggestive; so I have amended the title.

Anonymous said...

My theory rest on these assumptions:

1. No escapee wants to stay in singapore longer than required. The tendency is to escape from Singapore asap.

2. There is no good hiding place within Singapore. A jungle is not a good place unless you want to live in there forever. Mind you with a "close-loop" strategy, anyone can be flushed out very easily. Today jungle in singapore is so accessible form all directions because of rapid urbanization

My hunch is a> Much planning was made for this escape. b> a car was waiting somewhere on Onaret Road or Mt Plesant Road. Surely the secret camera would have filmed any approaching/waiting vehicle on Onaret Road. So the escapee probably walked to Mt Plesant Road where a waiting vehicle was waiting for him. c> Vehicle proceeded down Mt Plesant Road in the direction of Whitely Road (near the petrol station opposite Malcolm Park to Dunearn Road where another waiting vehicle was waiting to pick him up (probably the old Swiss Cottage School). d> Drive towards Ophit Road and head for ECP. Now why ECP? Because that will bring you to East Coast Parkway near Laguna Park. There are plenty of boats anchored there. Transfer via boat to international waters in the direciton of Batam. Mind you the nearest point between Indonesia and Singapore is Batam and Batam is nearest to Marine Parade area.

All in the time taken = 2 hours.

1. Why Guard Unit at Bedok Camp 2 not activated to provide a ring around East Coast Parkway? Instead Guards (from Sembawang Camp?) deploy at Malcolm Park.

2. PSA marine surveillance radar coverage screens all maritime vessels on Singapore Straits - did it not detect high speed boat heading into international waters?


Anonymous said...


We have air surveillance unit - think it's based on use of RSAF helicopters. Could they not be activated when water-crossing very strong possibility? Criminals usually take land route to get to Malaysia - First Link or Second Link.

I still remember in the days of Indonesian Cfrontation in 1964, there were many landings on the east coast of Singapore especially at Nallur Road and Meyer Road. Subsequently bombs were planted at public places or in front of the seawall of the private seaside bungalows.

Captured Indonesian saboteurs as they were then called in those days revealed they came in by small boats in the middle of the night from Batam, a ride of 2 hours by paddle. They were told also to escape back to Batam after they had accomplished their mission in the same direction.

Upon arrival on the beaches of Singapore, they made their way inland via Tampines Road to bomb other inland places like Senette Estate, Kampung Chantek in Bukit Timah Road and one Chinese school at 7 ms Bukit Timah Road.

Those that landed on the west coast of Singapore in the Jurong River area or the old ponds opposite Taman Mas Merah came from the southern tip of Malaysia (Pontian Kechil), which is a longer route to Singapore.

However everything said is based on a "What If" scenario. Myabe the counter-terrorist doctrine people might thinkwise.

Lam Chun See said...

Peter. I think your theory much sounder than mine. In which case, these JI people are really quite formidable; in Chinese we say, 不简单。

JollyGreenP said...

The problem with Standard Operating Procedures is that they do not cover non standard situations. Too much rehearsal can lead to complacency in thinking you have everything covered. The Swiss are noted for being a well organised race and plan down to the last detail. However, whenever I have seen them faced with something outside of the plan they seem to be unable to think on their feet to work around the problem because it is not covered by the plan. In many ways I would say that Singapore is very similar in detailed planning to Switzerland and very compliant with regulations and orders and need to develop the skills of "busking it" which comes with difficulty to well regulated societies but is stronger where supply lines and even reliability of equipment have been less than perfect and the "keep em flying" mentality has been engendered.

yg said...

hi shun see,

i did some checking with my friend who is well-connected with the police. according to him, the police received some info that a man fitting the fugitive's description was seen crossing the overhead bridge to malcolm park. i am sure for such a serious matter, the police would have verified the info thoroughly before taking action.
i suppose the combing of bukit batok nature reserve on friday was also the result of some info received.

yg said...

chun see, sorry for the typo error in your name.

Anonymous said...

Let me put it short.

Logically, it is not possible that Mas Selamat escaped from the detention centre by himself.I'm in the opinion that Mas Selamat might had been dead ( he agitated some if not all ISD personnels. One thing led to another till he is dead). His body may still be at the detention centre or already transported out and dumped somewhere. All manhunt operations are done so that this can defray the thoughts of everyone that Mas Selamat had really escaped.

Mas Selamat shall never be found.

Mr Rational

#PS. I may not be right.

Tom said...

Tom said...
if the Sigapore Army. and the police are highly trained in the good old fashion Internal Security
and do the Cordon and Search,I
beleave they will be, Mas Selamat the Terroist will not be free for
long, the Singapore People should
trust there Boys to do the job right
I beleave they will, and get there man.

Victor said...

Chun See - First, I feel that for such controversial topics, you should disallow anonymous comments or moderate them. There are at least 2 reasons why I say so:

1. The first 2 anonymous comments here are obviously from different people as they convey opposing views. This confuses your readers.

2. People who comment should at least have the guts to leave a consistent pseudonym or better still, their real names. Doing so is taking responsibility for their own views. Then they will be more hesitant in making wild baseless allegations.

Back to your topic. I also believe that Mas has already left Singapore, i.e. already selamat (safe). If not, the tracking dogs would have sniffed him out - his cell would have been full of his characteristic smell which the dogs could use for finding him.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I also had the same thought about why/how he would have escaped to Malcolm area, via the PIE, without getting knocked down by motorists, who would no doubt have been speeding along as on any other normal day. Perhaps he went through some drains. Or maybe, being well-trained in Afghanistan or wherever, making it across the PIE is chicken feed to him.

Apparently he was spotted in the SJI-SCGS vicinity. However, this is just hearsay. And as my friend said, the people who 'saw' him may have been mistaken because he doesn't really look unusual or anything. Anyone seen climbing a fence, running into the undergrowth, etc, could well have been, well, anyone at all.

Anyway, I agree that the MacRitchie route would have been a more logical escape path. From there, you can get to Woodlands, stowaway on the train to Malaysia, etc.

Anonymous said...

If the Malaysian route was chosen, then likely the pick-up vehicle would have headed to the Bukit Timah Railway Station. KTM trains usually stop for a short while before heading through Woodlands, the Causeway and JB. It is not too difficult to hide under the coach or freight wagon.

Based on that proposal, the fugitive might have to catch the evening train to KL, I think the 8pm service. Once in JB head for Kukup because there are many fishing boats who make daily trips across the Straits of Malacca.

Anonymous said...

Assuming if the authorities still strongly believe that the fugitive is hiding somewhere in the forested areas, employ counter-terrorist measure to track him in the jungle. Deploy say, 20 teams of 4-man squads and placed these teams at designated locations in the jungle. Their role will be to stay in the jungle for upto 3 to 4 days at a strecth with comms equipments, weapons and rations that can suffice the teams for the duration. Patrol the designated area of operations and report back sightings or take immediate action when fugitive is sighted according to SOP. I personally feel having teams to conduct adhoc sweep-searching techniques may have him missed out in the dragnet. What's your say?

Anonymous said...

With respect, if it is a typographical error here and there, it is common, but the following reflect typical spelling mistakes:
"tide security country in Asia" (sic)
it should be TIGHT
"I beleave they will be" ....
.. "the Singapore people should trust there Boys"
THEIR not there
Not on this topic, but other writers
"principle" versus "principal"
principle like principles of physics, or it is a matter of principle
The school principal
The interest is calculated at 10 per cent of the loan principal.
nickname Colonel

Victor said...

There is an overhead bridge across the Whitley Road section of the PIE near Onraet Road. If he had indeed crossed PIE on a (traffic)busy Wednesday afternoon, it is very likely that he had used the overhead bridge.

Anonymous said...

Read the newspaper today that a SingPost van was missing 4 hours before the "Toilet Break". Any connection?

Using the overhead bridge on PIE in front of Onraet Road is a possibility (because there is a side road for waiting vehicles) but he must have walked down that stretch of the road. Otherwise the CCTV will be able to pick up clues that a waiting vehicle was waiting for him. Then taking PIE means he was heaidng for the ECP. he could have exit at Eunos, travelled down Still Road and got into the inner road of East Coast Parkway. Else he could have exit at Changi GH and headed down Xinlin Avenue towards East Coast Parkway (near Tanah Merah Country Club). In both cases, the destination looked like Batam.

Lam Chun See said...

If what the govt. says is true, namely he acted alone without outside help, then Peter's theory of a car bringing to the southern coast is out.

And since they could not find him after a massive search of Malcolm/Dunearn area, then the man who the witness saw crossing PIE was not him.

In that case, my theory just might be correct after all. This is getting interesting.

Anonymous said...

I just wonder, how far and fast can a limping man walk?

My friend timed himself (and he is not limping), he can do 2.5km brisk walking on flat ground just under 30 mins. That should be indicative as to how far and fast the man could have travelled. A NSman doing his 2.3km run can achieve between 9 mins and 12 mins in order to pass his IPPT.

The terrain in Whitley Road, Lornie Road and Malcolm Park is hilly and bushy. Salamat is 47 years old and beyond NS Non-Officer age-group.

Question: Was Salamt walking or running?

Tom said...

Tom Said...
Anonymous thanks for spotting my
spelling mistake, I will make sure to get it right from now on, I was never good at spelling, by the way have you ever made a spelling mistake before? or are you just a smart Boy that never
makes a mistake?.

Victor said...

Tom - Take heart. Anonymous probably doesn't even know how to spell his name. :p

Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,
Glad to read that you take it in good spirit.
Although I am not a native speaker, and I do make mistakes, but these kinds:
tide vs tight
there vs their
principal vs principle
then vs than
new vs knew
nickname colonel

Lam Chun See said...

Aiyah Colonel. This is not New York Times. No need to be so precise in grammar or speeling one lah. Not every reader of GMY is English educated or highly educated. As long as we can understand and benefit from the comment is good enough already.

Lam Chun See said...

I heard on radio this morning that the troops are now searchin Bt Timah Nature Reserve. Too late guys. By now MSK would have read my blog and moved elsewhere. In our 'intelligent island', anyone can access the internet from anywhere.

Anonymous said...

If MSK has indeed been taking refuge in the forested areas since last Wed of his escaped and the authorities strongly believe he acted alone, you will not expect a chubby-face MSK as shown in flyers and posted of his picture. His features would probably be emanciated, sunken and thin unless he has access to food easily.

Anonymous said...

Many decades ago, a black panther escaped from the Mandai Zoo. IT took the combined police-SAF forces about 1 weel to catch this cat. Many rumours surfaced that it was spotted at sixth Avenue, Bukit Batok, Orchard Road, MacRitchie Reservoir and even Changi. Finally when they caught the cat, it was 1 mile from the Mandai Zoo, perched up on a tree

Unk Dicko said...

Hi Chun See,
For more info and angles do check out my 2 posts at my blogsite.

Wise Owl

Anonymous said...

I once spoke to a ex-police officer and asked him how a hardcore (and crafty) criminal could be swiftly brought to justice. He replied that without using informers it would be an uphill task. If Mas S. has already slipped out of the country that would be a different situation, but about if he is still around? Should there be a huge reward offered to bait the informers to take doubly fast action? In old days of the wild wild west, there were posters (with a drawn picture of the criminal) nailed onto trees, written:'WANTED - outlaw dead or alive, reward US$xxxx. I believe this type of bait sometimes works wonder, that was how Saddam Hussein's sons were located. Now we see posters of the wanted man all over the place, but where is the offer? So would the 'professional' informers noble enough to come forward to offer their 'national' services? At this dangerous time no one should sit on the high horse of morality and proclaim: "Hey-please don't be so immoral and use money for such an evil purpose".

Tom said...

Tom said ..
Uncle Dick I was reading your story
about the Tahan Expedition in the Malayan Jungle, it brought back
memories when I did some Jungle warfare training the year 1961,I was just wondering if that is the same river we use to cross,and Jungle area yes it was tough going, I remember taken the salt tablets, tablets to stop you getting Malaria, and the water sterilizing tablets, the tablets for malaria did not do me any good
I went down with the disease and I was sent to RAF changi Hospital for two weeks,and when I came out I was sent back up country to the Malayan and the Thailand Border,Uncle Dick I could go on and on thank you for letting me read your story can I ask you one question can I take a copy of one or two of your photographs? And I still think the Singapore Police and Army will get M.S. soon.

Unk Dicko said...

Hi Tom,
You are such a gentleman...for asking. Certainly, please go ahead with the photos you need. Mighty glad you had jungle experience too.
BTW, when we were up at Tahan Hqrs, we did check up with the Park office. They kept records of people who had made it to the top and back. Not that many back then. There were some British army personnel. We even saw their scribblings on the Trig station at the peak.
Was amused about your experience with anti-Malarial tablets.Won't tell too much right now...but one of my coming post will touch on this and its near disastrous effects at the Tahan Exped.

Lam Chun See said...

Tom. I think if you create a Blogger account, you can post your commentd directly to Uncle Dick's blog; then his readers can also read your stories of the Malayan jungle. All you need is an email account and a password.

Anonymous said...

I was at the east coast beach today. I saw SAF personnel on duty (in small numbers). Funny thing, they were not armed and did not assume "On alert" position. I didnt see anyone carry rifles. What I saw were a few sentries posted to lookout tower in front of the National Sailing Center. There were a few soldiers camoed among the boats parked at Bedok Jetty.

Then I asked one soldier in the public toilet when did they arrived? He said Tuesday this week. "Where were you last week?", I asked. "Labrador".

If this Selamat guy is still around on our island, would you take things so easy?

If I have to read in-between the lines, I think I found my answer already.

Anonymous said...

I agree with some of you here.

If he did escape, he would have have either left Singapore within that first 4 hours or hide in an accomplice's place until everything seems to be fine again.

If he didn't escape, he is probably dead or handed over to CIA, brought to Area 51 for interrogations on his links with the Al-Qaedah.

Just my thoughts. It could also be something else. Nobody knows. =x

Deen Yusoff

Tom said...

Tom said...
how fast world news travels, I can not beleive it, I was just reading the evening paper, I came across a artical the heading was in bold black print, Terror Suspect Escapes From Jail.It says, A Top terror supect was able to escape a high security prison in Singapore through an open toilet window. Mas Selamat Kastati, who planned his escape in advance. the window did not have a grille on it.DaDaDa, I still can not believe it, with all the new high tec.they still can not get World news fast enough, the paper is about two months to late telling us.Da.

Tom said...

Tom said ...
just put on the world it says the Malaysian and the Singapore police have found the terrorist, Mas Selamat Kasati,
they got him in Johor Bahru, I said they would get their man, but it took them one year to get him.