Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mas Selamat is on my mind; months, perhaps, after the fact. Golden Boy is S'pore's celebrity escapee who fled detention while he was being held as a suspected terrorist, in case people have already forgotten.

It's because I was previewing "The Road to Guantanamo" on DVD to see how I could use it for class that's when I came to the conclusion that if Goldie was in the custody of the US, he would never have got away. It would have been impossible. He would have been under 24-hour watch in a see-through cage, made to sit all day not talking, not praying, not doing anything except being watched like an animal in a zoo. Just being still and quiet. Did I mention being watched?

No family visits, no lawyer visits. His exercise would have been a five-minute walk once every week. That'll build some muscles. The boredom spending days, weeks, months on end like that is unimaginable. It's almost a relief when the guards drag him out of his cage for his interrogation, daily beating and general abuse, just because at least that's something to DO.

And that kind of treatment is for people the US isn't even sure are actual terrorists. It happened to four guys, Brits of Pakistani descent, who happened to be touring in the wrong part of Afghanistan when the Coalition forces likewise came a-callin'.

No, we were "complacent". We let him out of his cell, allowed him some privacy when he did his toilet, gave him time with his wife and kids. We almost treated him like a human being, despite knowing full well who he was and what he was capable of. We acted like we had nothing to fear from him. We paid a high price when he took advantage of us, but you know what? I'm proud that we did exactly that. That our security personnel are still able to see people as people, not just as the threats they represent.

And that brings us to today's news story: Ingrid Betancourt and fellow hostages escaping the clutches of their captives in a daring, well-planned helicopter rescue by the Columbian army. In a many months' long operation, army infiltrators lulled the rebels into a false sense of security. Hence the FARC-all job of guarding the 15 captives "Cesar" and Co. would otherwise have been watching more closely.

And the one big question that will stick in all our minds is, why couldn't Goldie's escape have been at least as spectacular? But we all know, nothing exciting EVER happens in the S'pore.

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