Terror suspect still missing in Singapore

March 14, 2008 at 4:52 PM

SINGAPORE, March 14 (UPI) -- The escape of a terrorist suspect and the failure to recapture him are a major embarrassment for the strait-laced Singapore government.

The hunt for Mas Selamat bin Kastari, missing since Feb. 27, has included Jet Ski patrols off shore and pleas to the populace to keep bicycles secure, The New York Times reports. Local newspapers have reported traffic delays of up to 15 hours at police checkpoints.

"We had all bought into the image of a well-organized government machinery," wrote Alex Au, on his political Web site, Yawning Bread. "Suddenly, our picture of Singapore as a kind of Big Brother state is, well, full of holes."

Investigators say that Mas Selamat asked to use the toilet while he was waiting for a meeting with his family. He never came back.

Lee Kuan Yew, the former prime minister who molded Singapore into the ultimate nanny state, told the Times the country has become complacent.

"We are not infallible," he said. "One mistake and we've got a big explosive in our midst."

Mas Selamat, allegedly a leader in the Islamist Jemaah Islamiyah group, was arrested in 2006 on charges of organizing a plan to bomb the U.S. Embassy.

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