Recapture of Mas Selamat: Malaysia should capitalise and ask for a straight bridge

The most wanted man in Singapore, Mas Selamat Kastari, who had been a fugitive since 27 February 2008 for the freak escape from Whitley Road Detention Centre was apprehended recently in Skudai, Johor. The Jemaah Islamiah (JI) operative has been in hiding in Malaysia since his daring escape and swam across the Johor Straits for find refuge here.

The Channel News Asia has the story:



Mas Selamat’s re-arrest not the end of Singapore’s problem

By Cheryl Lim, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 09 May 2009 1851 hrs  


SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said Singapore’s security challenge is to keep up its guard without getting fatigued or complacent.

In his first remarks on the capture of Mas Selamat Kastari, Mr Lee said Singapore must not think that the re-arrest of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) leader is the end of its problem.

He said the terrorism situation in Southeast Asia is under control, but the threat is far from over. He added that the price of security is eternal vigilance.

In a statement to the media on Saturday, the Prime Minister also said information about the capture of Mas Selamat on April 1 was not made public earlier because of a prior agreement with the Malaysian authorities.

Mr Lee said he was told about the arrest by his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak on April 11 during an impromptu four-eye lunch in Thailand’s Pattaya after the ASEAN meeting was called off due to demonstrations.

He thanked Datuk Seri Najib for Malaysia’s generous support and help, and told him Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Wong Kan Seng had earlier told him of the arrest.

Mr Lee said he was happy and relieved that Mas Selamat had been found and arrested before he could do any harm.

But Malaysia had asked Singapore to keep this information quiet for the time being, so Singapore respected this and held the information very tightly in order not to jeopardise the operation.

However, on the afternoon of May 7 during a weekly pre-Cabinet meeting lunch, Mr Wong received a phone call informing him that the Internal Security Department (ISD) had received a request from the The Straits Times to confirm a scoop that Mas Selamat had been arrested by the Malaysian authorities.

As the news had leaked, the Singapore government had no choice but to confirm the story.

Ministers who were present at the lunch were completely taken by surprise when Mr Wong told them that Mas Selamat had been arrested.

In his statement, Mr Lee also thanked all officers involved in tracking down Mas Selamat over the past year. He said he never had a doubt that Mas Selamat would be found because he knew the quality and commitment of the ISD officers working on this.

He said the ISD had recovered quickly from the mistakes which led to Mas Selamat’s escape from the Whitley Road Detention Centre in February last year.

Mr Lee also thanked the ISD and its Malaysian counterpart, the Special Branch, for working closely together.

– CNA/ir


Since the capture by an operations lead by the Bukit Aman Special Branch, Mas Selamat is now being held in Malaysia under the Internal Securities Act (ISA).

According to Singaporean authorities, the success of capturing Mas Selamat was a joint concerted effort by Malaysian, Singaporean and Indonesian security and intelligence agencies. Singaporean Prime Minister Brig. Gen. (NS) Lee Hsien Loong will discuss with Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak when the latter is coming for a courtesy call on 21 May.

Another story from Channel news Asia:

PM Lee, Najib to discuss Mas Selamat arrest next week

By Channel NewsAsia’s Malaysia Bureau Chief Melissa Goh | Posted: 13 May 2009 2138 hrs


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to discuss the arrest of terror suspect Mas Selamat Kastari when he meets Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong next week.

Mr Najib, who was sworn in early last month, is scheduled to be in Singapore for an introductory visit from May 21-22.

Speaking at his office in Putrajaya, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein declined to say if Malaysia will hand over the terror suspect to Singapore.

The 48-year-old terrorist escaped from Singapore’s detention centre last year.

Mr Hishammuddin reiterated that the arrest of Mas Selamat – who escaped detention three times – would not have been possible without the cooperation of intelligence services from Singapore and Indonesia.

He said the Malaysian Cabinet has also approved the setting up of an Aseanapol permanent secretariat. To be based in Kuala Lumpur, the office will allow the intelligence agencies of ASEAN members to cooperate and share resources to better fight crime as well as terrorism.

Mr Hishammuddin said: “For instance, one recent issue relating to Mas Selamat – it involves three countries. If there was no cooperation between the three, it will not lead to the arrest of the person concerned.”

– CNA/ir


This is a very good opportunity for the two leaders to discuss issues stalled between the two closest nations in the world. One of the issue which PM Dato’ Seri Najib should capitalize in this visit is the Bridge Replacing Johor Causeway.

Dato’ Seri Najib should now use the ‘brownie points’ from the success of recapturing Mas Selamat as an important bargaining chip. Singapore, which has been under ‘seize mentality’ and more chronic after the daring escape of Mas Selamat’, where they went into a ‘state of paranoia’.

The ‘state of paranoia’ only demonstrate how insecure the Singaporeans are, especially with JI terrorists looming actively in the region and the Singaporeans policies on and for the United States and Israel. The past eight years, many untoward and brutal incidences in Indonesia and the Phillipines have been blamed to the JI, which include kidnapping, execution and bombings.

It is expected since the recapture of Mas Selamat, other JI cells around the region would now be reactivated. And obviously, Singapore would be a ‘favourite’ target. Especially with many American interests based in the city state and the global financial meltdown already hit Singapore and beginning to show its effect. Singapore is not in a position to see American and West European investments pulled out and relocated elsewhere, due to psychologically damaging ‘security’ issues.

Hence, Singaporean authorities would definitely need closer co-operation with the Malaysian authorities, to ensure the security is intact and psychological effect on their own citizens and expatriates is good and uplifting. The fact that Mas Selamat managed to escape from Whitley’s and went on undetected to cross the border, demonstrate that the Singaporean security services, so-called highly trained and after deploying the latest surveillance technology,  is not that good after all.

This is despite the recent acquisition of strategic and offensive weapons that the Singaporean Armed Forces (SAF), now in the process of delivery. Lately, SAF acquired the F15 ST multirole fighters, AH 64 Longbow D attack helicopters (both from the US) and Leopard III main battle tanks (from Germany), on top billion SG dollars spending on sensors, surveillance and ICT technology. Singapore Technologies also developing their Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), for surveillance purposes. With the alarming military buildup, it shows that the apparent threat Singapore is facing is actually terrorism in nature and not conventional warfare.

Singaporeans, claimed the 6% GDP, which is almost SG $ 12 billion annual spending on millitary as to provide ‘comfort for their citizens and investments’. Hence, they felt that the acquisition of strategic and offensive military assets, for the purpose of ‘defense’ is justified. Some analysts in the region see this trend as ‘worrying’ and reflective of the ‘kiasu’ness of what Singaporeans are noted for.

For the benefit of Singaporeans, it is now much better for them to be less ‘kiasu’ and adopt a more ‘accommodating’ attitude, especially with neighbours like Malaysia. They should work hard to ensure that their neighbours, who are of the Nusantara stock and noted for their selfless-ness, are treated as how close friends should be. A co-operation to build a straight bridge replacing the Johor Causeway is a good illustration of that dis-kiasu attitude, as the effort should promote better commerce, communications and social relationships between nations used to be ‘brothers and sisters’.

As they say, carpe diem. This is the perfect opportunity to seize the moment. The shortchanges should stop and tide turned into Malaysia’s favour.

Published in: on May 16, 2009 at 11:44  Comments (16)  

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16 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Hah,
    Boleh korek banyak rahsia from him on the lax security of Singapore!

    I am sure he has LOTS in store from his underground activities there!


    • If they do not co-operate, release Mas Selamat and say the Opposition demanded it, under the “Abolish the ISA” campaign.

      The southern neighbour will live in fear. HeeHee

      • Are you really that power crazy that you will like us to release a know terrorist just for a stupid bridge, or is this a weak attempt at a joke?

      • Hahahaha

        Good One Ray

      • Why would Malaysia wants to release Mas Selamat for the Bridge?

        What we are calling here in BigDogDotCom is that Malaysia use the issue of security (vis-a-vis Mas Selamat daring escape in Singapore and recapture in Malaysia,) with the Singaporeans to get better deal in all pending issues.

        Singapore would need Malaysia’s help and vast experience in combatting terrorist (Communists), for their own security needs, now and the future.

        Hence, for the future security working relationship, Malaysia should ‘win’ in Straight Bridge negotiations.

      • Nimalan is a typical Anwarista!

        Never get the message and yet spin it for all the wrong reasons!

        BidDog is right. Malaysia’s been giving into Singapork far too long! Especially during Pak Lah Sleepy Head’s time!

        Najib, pls do something right. We’ve been shortchanged far to often by the kiasu BANANAS!
        * Banana = Yellow outside, white inside. i.e. Singaporeans are stooge of the Americans!

  2. PDRM Special Branch is one of the best intelligence services in the world.

  3. Hehe … hot news

    Don’t feel betrayed or stressed out, YA

    The frog KING in action – such a HERO to some.

    WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman has revealed that Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had offered him the post of Deputy Prime Minister as bait to switch sides after the general election last year.

    • As a beloved blogger of bigfogfotcom will say to the Foreign Minister , “Show me the proof, or you are a liar”

  4. Big Dog
    I am a bit skeptical about the whole Mas Selamat escape & arrest episode. I am led to believe that he was ‘allowed’ to escape in order for the intelligence community to gather more information on who were in contact with him – JI, AlQaeda etc. During the whole one year, the Malaysian and Singaporean intelligence were on top of the situation monitoring his activities.

    But he was not that stupid either, he kept minimum contact – only two people according to reports and therefore frustrate the intelligence community. After monitoring him for a year, they lost patience and arrest him again.

  5. By the time Singapore comes around to agreeing to replace the causeway with any bridge at all, my grandchildren, who are not even conceived yet, are all dead and gone of old age.

    Just go ahead and build that bloody crooked bridge I say…do the pipelines so that Singapore is never denied of water at any time…..then clear the waterway so that the largest oil tankers and container ships can go through!!!

  6. […] arrogance of Lee Kuan Yew at this point of time is really baffling. Despite the recent success of the re-capture of Singaporean most wanted terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari in Skudai … ( the freak escape from a high security detention centre was a major embarrasment for Singapore) […]

  7. […] despite their arrogance of the ’supperiority complex’ and chest-thumping. The ‘Mas Selamat’ episode is the clear example. To top it all,  Singapore is Israeli’s strongest ally in South East […]

  8. […] in 2005) and Jakarta Ritz Carlton and JW Marriot bombings in 2009 are renowned examples. A notorious J I terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari was arrested near Johor Bahru in May 2009 after slipped away from Singaporean ISA detention centre in February […]

  9. […] planned to be tabled at Dewan Rakyat in March 2012. The new Anti Terrorism laws are to replace the much dreaded democratically enacted Internal Security Act (ISA) which was designed to preserve democracy but some people deem it as […]

  10. […] arrest of South East Asia most wanted man Mas Selamat Kastari in Johor, after escapism from Singapore Internal Security detention centre is an example how good […]

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