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Sunday, March 9, 2008

MM Lee blames complacency for JI leader's escape

IN MANAMA (BAHRAIN) - THE escape of Mas Selamat Kastari is a 'very severe lesson in complacency' and it shows that Singapore is not infallible, said Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew on Friday.

However, if the former Jemaah Islamiah (JI) leader is still in Singapore, Mr Lee believed that he would not be able to launch an attack.

But if he has escaped to Indonesia, he would be able to link up with his old networks and Mr Lee warned Singapore that it must brace itself for a 'return hit sometime'.

Asked by Singapore reporters here for the impact of the escape on the country's international reputation, Mr Lee replied that it is 'not very good' for its security services.

'We should have known that here is a man who has had several escapes,' he said at his wrap-up media interview here after a week-long visit to three Gulf nations.

'But obviously, he is a very wily sort of person and must have won the confidence of whoever were his custodians.'

'So when he said he wanted to go to the toilet, they allowed him to go to the toilet. Whether the toilet had bars and there was no exit from the windows, that has to be explained.'

'I give him full marks for having won the confidence of his custodians - that he's completely docile, completely passive and he's going to remain in captivity.'

Mas Selamat, 47, who had previously planned to crash a plane into Changi Airport, escaped from Internal Security Department (ISD) custody at the Whitley Detention Centre on Feb 27.

He has been on the run since and his escape has sparked the biggest manhunt in Singapore history.

Mr Lee said that his escape showed that Singapore is not infalliable.

'It shows that it is a fallacy, it is stupid to believe we are infallible. We are not infallible. One mistake and we've got a big explosive in our midst. So let's not take this lightly,' he said.

'I think it's a very severe lesson of complacency that we are confident we have this man sized up.

Read the full story in Saturday's edition of The Straits Times.

Peh Shing Huei
Fri, Mar 07, 2008
The Straits Times

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