If one were to follow the local media, one would be aghast at the gradual and subtle shifting of blame for alleged JI terrorist Mas Selamat Kastari’s escape.
It is propaganda at its most sublime.
It is propaganda because one, the government here in Singapore is all-encompassing and two, the local media is totally and completely beholden to the government. The media is used daily to lead public discussion and debate in the direction that the government wants it to go.
It is thus not unexpected that in a matter as serious as this escape the media would be employed to “hush things down” when ascribing blame to the government officials responsible for the “lapse”.
And so, we now witness a shameful shifting of blame – from the minister in charge, DPM Wong Kan Seng, to “Singaporeans’ complacency”.
It is also significant that this shift is spearheaded by the oldest member in the Cabinet, MM Lee Kuan Yew himself. Indeed MM Lee has spoken twice about this “complacency” – the first time on March 7:
“I think it's a very severe lesson of complacency that we are confident we have this man sized up.” (Straits Times)
It is important to note that MM Lee avoided mentioning any names at all – including that of the Home Affairs Minister Wong. Instead MM Lee ascribed the “complacency” to his “custodians”.
On April 5, MM Lee again spoke about the escape but this time pointing the finger at Singaporeans in general:
"Complacency sets in when a people have not suffered any shock or setback for a long time, as in Singapore without jihadist terror attacks, although we have ceaselessly talked about it and prepared out (sic) defence.”
“Most people believe that bad things will happen to others, not to themselves.” (Link)
And to cement this shifting of blame, the Straits Times quoted PAP MP Lim Wee Kiak:
“People's Action Party MP Lim Wee Kiak called complacency a 'side-effect' of an overly successful Government and civil service.
'This has bred a dependency mentality in our population who will blame the civil service and Government if any of their needs are not met,' he noted.”
The shift is complete : The escape of Mas Selamat Kastari is due to Singaporeans’ complacency because “most people believe that bad things will happen to others, not to themselves”. And because of Singaporeans’ “dependency mindset”, they “blame the civil service and Government”. But no worries, this complacency is “a 'side-effect' of an overly successful Government and civil service”!
Game. Set. Match.
Singaporeans are to blame for the escape.
Who else should be responsible since we already have “an overly successful Government and civil service”? (Emphasis mine) Surely, they cannot be held responsible for Singaporeans’ “dependency mindset” and “complacency”!
If one recalls, one would also remember that the initial propaganda strategy was to use the escape to trumpet how “Singaporeans ace test of racial cohesion”, to quote a Straits Times headline. The ST reported NTUC Chief Lim Swee Say thus:
“Minister Lim Swee Say, who described the escape as a test in inter-racial cohesion, said Singaporeans passed it 'with flying colours'.”
In all of the local media’s reports about the jailbreak, none, as far as I am aware of, has mentioned Minister Wong’s responsibility. Even the Prime Minister himself shrugged off the JI leader’s “toilet break” with “What to do? It’s happened.”
And so, it would seem that two groups of people are to blame: Mas Selamat’s custodians and Singaporeans in general.
As for the ministers in charge – Wong Kan Seng and his 2nd in command Ho Peng Kee, well, they are part of an “overly successful Government”. So how can they be held responsible?
Watch the local media go into overdrive to preserve and protect our extraordinary ministers in government – where lapses are easily and conveniently ascribed to others, even to those who had nothing to do at all with Mas Selamat.
In fact, most Singaporeans, I would bet, did not even know he existed until he gave his guards the slip on a fateful February 27.
But nonetheless, ignorance is not a defence.
Singaporeans are to blame for the escape.
Now, stop being complacent!