TODAY: Was the manhunt properly handled?

NAZRY BAHRAWI
nazry@mediacorp.com.sg

It was a question on several MPs’ lips: Could the information made public about Mas Selamat’s escape have been better managed?

For instance, Non-Constituency MP Sylvia Lim pointed out: Why did it take the authorities 19 days to reveal that he had a mole under his eye?

Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng said the accuracy of information had to be verified before it was released.

Also, “if you look at the poster, it is not so easy to detect a mole”, he added.

People’s Action Party backbencher Baey Yam Keng asked: Why was the public told Mas Selamat was wearing his baju kurong, when the greenish-grey pants were left hanging over the toilet door?

Mr Wong admitted: “That is something beyond me … I think the officers concerned who put out such information must have a lot of confusing information at that time.”

Ms Lim also questioned the way the manhunt was conducted.

For instance, residents near the detention centre told her that army searchers had inspected only the ground floors of their double-storey homes.

Mr Wong’s reply was that as experts in such searches, the personnel would have been able to tell what was adequate.

Opposition MP Chiam See Tong felt authorities should have used tracer dogs in the hours following Mas Selamat escape. He believed that if they had been used, Mas Selamat would “still be in custody”.

To this, Mr Wong responded that professionals had advised him that the use of tracer dogs in a search involving “lots of people” would be of “no additional value”, though tracer dogs were deployed at certain locations in the vicinity of the WRDC.

Still, Mr Wong – who said he is “no expert” – promises to raise Mr Chiam’s views on the tracer dogs to the Police Department.

Was the minister confident Mas Selamat was in Singapore, asked Jalan Besar MP Lily Neo. The ISD’s “best available information” suggests so, replied Mr Wong. Its regional counterparts also have had no indication that the fugitive has escaped to their countries.

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