Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng says he's owned up and apologised for the escape of terror leader Mas Selamat Kastari.
Speaking to media on the sidelines of a community event on Sunday, DPM Wong said, "Of course, the first mistake cannot be obliterated; it was there, I owned up to it, as a minister I took responsibility for it -- that's the right thing to do."
He added, "There was a lapse in the security and I apologised for that and I said we would do everything to find him."
When asked if the issue would cost him votes and be a "fatal blow" to his re-election campaign, the PAP MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC said he hopes people would see the mistake in context over the work he has done throughout his career.
"I think people will look at that and see... based on that I've done here for the last 27 years; and is that one lapse by a department fatal to their decision on electing me or not?" he said.
Mas Selamat escaped from the Whitley Road Detention Centre in Onraet Road in February 2008 and was recaptured in Johore Bahru over a year later.
Dismissing a claim by veteran opposition leader Chiam See Tong that he had not fully explained how the terror leader had escaped, DPM Wong said he had given a full public account in Parliament of the Mas Selamat security lapse on April 21, 2008, when he was Home Affairs Minister.
"I spent one hour detailing what the committee of inquiry found and I spent the next two hours answering questions from all the MPs, for those interested in asking questions," he said.
The Minister also questioned why Mr Chiam -- who is expected to contest the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC -- had only raised one question in Parliament on security lapses in the aftermath of Mas Selamat's escape.
DPM Wong also said that residents in the GRC had not mentioned the issue of Mas Selamat when he made his grassroots visits.
"Nobody raised a question of Mas Selamat in any of these visits," said the Minister, who stepped down and made way for Law Minister K Shanmugam to take over as Home Affairs Minister in November 2010.
Meanwhile Potong Pasir MP Chiam said the public still had not been given a full version of the Mas Selamat debacle.
The leader of the Singapore People's Party said on Saturday, "I remembered I asked only one question, but that question was not fully answered."
"I asked whether heads would roll over the issue of Mas Selamat. They didn't give us a good answer... We believe in accountability. I want the minister to account to the people of Bishan-Toa Payoh over why heads have not rolled."
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