PM goes AWOL

Is it possible for a leader of a country to go missing in the midst of a national outcry?

Yet, this is what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has managed to do. He has not uttered a single comment about the “escape” of ISA detainee, Mr Mas Selamat Kastari.

In a situation that has caused great concern to Singaporeans and one in which his Home Affairs Minister has turned into unfunny comedy, it is imperative that Mr Lee steps up and takes charge.

He must assure the public that action will be taken to resolve the situation, demand answers from those responsible, and provide these answers to the public in a timely fashion.

It has been one full week since Mr Kastari’s uncanny disappearance and, amazingly, the nation has not heard from the PM.

At times such as these people look for leadership. The leader has, however, gone AWOL.

Even the father, MM Lee Kuan Yew, who does not easily pass up a chance of offering a sagely word or two, solicited or otherwise, is strangely quiet.

The question that is screaming to be asked is: Why? Why have the PM and MM steered clear of making public statements on the issue?

Why are they not publicly backing Mr Wong Kan Seng in his utterances? Has the PM met Mr Wong and is he satisfied that the Minister has discharged his ministerial duties in a responsible and forthright manner? If not, what course of action does he recommend?

Most important, why has PM Lee not come out and unequivocally tell the nation that the Government will present clear evidence to show that the detainee has indeed escaped and how he managed to do it?

Whatever the case, Mr Lee Hsien Loong must provide the answers. That’s what leaders do. His silence is not only deafening, but also very eerie.

The more-than-strange responses coming from the authorities over the past week indicate that there is much more than meets the eye.

This is not helped by those in charge of the government who act like they are tip-toeing through a minefield.

The media and parliamentarians have not covered themselves with glory either. At a time when hard questions need to be asked, they have been singularly negligent.

If this is the sign of things to come for Singapore, we are in more trouble than we think.