Everyone has weighed in over Mas Selamat Kastari‘s (MSK) escape. That ST’s crime desk did not take the lead in favour of political scribes had me reluctant to rely on their news. But there has been no shortage of alternative news. However, even when skimming, I have encountered enough faulty assumptions to realise this requires some dedicated attention which I haven’t invested in. So conversations with friends kicks in as the best pointer to worthy information.
As I floated above the buzz, I must admit I initially thought the noise about ISD’s incompetence was overhyped. So I was indeed shocked by the story behind the sawn-off window handle and the picture depicting the lack of clearance for the perimeter wall. Yes it will certainly take a while before this is lived down. Had we late night shows, the fodder this provides will probably rank in popularity of use to Cheney’s shooting incident amongst US talk shows. Most know the basic facts so even mild allusions would work. With everyone’s renovation contractor woes, they can all appreciate the size of the problem that even the dreaded even ISD can’t get a grille installed even when they try. Or maybe it was really about the price of steel. You get an inkling of the private conversations.
So now Home Affairs will probably ask the relevant people in Prisons to certify any detention facility that ISD has set up and get involved in the planning phase of new facilities. And then have an independent company certify and audit the premises. We will need facilities fit for the detention of a higher grade of criminal that we seem to be acquiring, post 9-11. These boys aren’t just hungering for hawker fare.
The biology labs we maintain in campus these days are subject to something similar. A lab’s safety level classification depends on the sort of germ (or chemical, etc) they deal with. The premises and occupants have to be certified fit to cope with this and are also audited for their ability to safely cope with their threatening occupants.
As I chatted with a rueful friend from the police a many weeks ago, I did argue that the escape was not without its advantages. The perpetual problem of maintaining alertness and vigilance over an extended incident-free period just got a boost – even in areas like safety and fire response. It no longer seems alarmist to take what are actually just adequate steps. Even the exam invigilation announcement I sent out on Monday had suitable MSK innuendoes. Everyone came really early to my satisfaction and prepared themselves with the contingency plans.
And as the discussion about the MSK escape rages on, other issues are being exposed and many are being attended to. I just hope we will not need to pay too high a cost eventually. Meanwhile, I too wonder where he is – the forest or safely encased in a supporter’s house observing all our reactions on tv and the internet?