29 April 2008

Who Should Take Responsibilities?

In my previous post, I talked about responsibility and accountability and the fairness of taking actions on those responsible and accountable for the lapses.

Coming back to the issue of Mas Selamat's escape. Without the benefit of knowing the full details other than looking the the COI Executive Summary and Ministerial Statement, I am of the opinion that accountability and responsibility goes beyond the officers stationed in Whitley Road Detention Centre (WRDC). Everyone has to take responsibility and account for something... and what is that something?

In my earlier post, I quoted from the Ministerial Statement that there were "no evidence of connivance, collusion, or assistance given to Mas Selamat" nor "malice or criminal liability on the part of any officer implicated". In other words, none of the staff actually intended for Mas Selamat to escape. Thus, for that matter, I don't think anyone (including the GC and SDO) should face any "permanent" punishment such as termination. Doing so will only encourage their successors to be more resistant to taking responsibilities... or perhaps even deny their lapses. However, some disciplinary actions along the lines of stoppages of leave, bonus, demotion, reassignment or at least re-educate and re-train should be necessary. By doing so, it sends a clear message across that the lapses are serious matters and cannot be condone, and yet the "authority" is prepared to hear out the difficulties the officers may face in conforming to the expectations.

To determine who is responsible for the lapses and weaknesses can go very high up. The GC guards and SDO who did not follow SOP by leaving Mas Selamat out of their sight are certainly responsible for this non-conformance. It seems that they are not the only ones. There have been cases where MS had closed the door. Who should take responsibility for not preventing such non-conformance to take place? Should he face disciplinary actions? The toilet was not meant for detainees but was used nevertheless for convenience. Again, who should take responsibility for not preventing such practices? Should he face disciplinary actions? Although the COI did not explicitly mention it, who should be responsible for the weaknesses that warrants improvement in

1) Command and Control
2) Communication Coordination
3) Regular Exercises and Audits
4) The WRDC itself

The WRDC is a "complex-multifunctional facility" (Ministerial Statement). Who is responsible for ensuring that the WRDC has all the resources necessary to run such a facility? Who runs the renovation and re-development programme? Were there any risk assessment done to ensure that the renovation and re-development programme do not alter the security eco-system? Who do all these works? Are they trained to manage renovation and re-development projects? Is the WRDC provided with sufficient resources to not only carry out the multifunctional roles but additional resources to carry out the re-development program? Are there other detention centres (I'm do not know how many are there but let's include the prisons as well) that faces similar cultural, operational or infrastructure weakness? If there is, who should be accountable? These questions can go on and on, higher and higher into the organizational hierarchy and may very well implicate everybody but that is not the point. The point is for everyone to ask themselves "Am I one of the confluencing factor?"

Anyway, I don't think Minister for Home Affairs or Director ISD need to answer all these questions to the public - the COI's Executive Summary is quite comprehensive and the Ministerial Statement is even more detailed. However, I hope for everyone's sake, they will find the answers within themselves and take any corrective actions where required.


Anonymous said...

Not to mention, they said that they "spared no expense" to find him... bloody liars had 1 million spare that they only decided to use today, now when no one has the chance to cash in. Even singapore pools is not so chao...

khirsah said...

Well, ever heard of responses such as "Public should come forward and do the right thing (like report sightings of fugitive, or have babies, or go the extra mile) and not because there is monetary incentive to it"