Mas Selamat, your days are numbered. We may have let you escape, and we may not have found you yet, but we have a damn kickass database.
With this database, our cops can search 121 empty buildings in one day. Although I am not sure in this property boom and en bloc fever, whether Mas can find an empty building to hide in.
Watch out for Version 2 of the Empty Building Database, when we can search 122 buildings in one day.
I also loved how efficient this article is, blending news about the database and some cop awards ceremony in one piece: "On a separate note, seven groups received the Home Team Achievement Awards at the workshop."
And the Mas Selamat news headline of the week belongs to the New York Times: "Terror Suspect Eludes Posse of 4 Million" (that I was quoted in it has absolutely nothing to do with it, honest)
From Channeled NewsAsia:
Key database useful in hunt for Mas Selamat
By May Wong, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 18 March 2008 2014 hrs
SINGAPORE: Officers searching for escaped Jemaah Islamiyah leader, Mas Selamat Kastari, are using a database to make their hunt more effective.
Mas Selamat escaped from the Whitley Road Detention Centre some three weeks ago. The 47-year-old is alleged to have been the mastermind of a plot to crash a hijacked plane into Changi Airport.
The database used in the hunt contains key information such as the location of vacant buildings in Singapore and possible hideouts used by illegal immigrants.
These details come under a programme called Operations Terrain Mapping, which has been updated over the last three years by Home Team officers who registered their observations and contact networks on the database to tackle crime and terrorism.
There are also plans to enhance the IT system that centrally stores and shares such terrain information to allow the Home Team to share some parts of the database with other ministries and possibly grassroots organisations in the future.
This was revealed by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng on Tuesday at a workshop for some 700 Home Team officers from agencies like the Police Force and the Internal Security Department.
Mr Wong said: "Our sector officers were able to identify 121 vacant or abandoned buildings within a day and the search operations conducted against these sites were mounted expeditiously. This swift response would not have been possible had we not already marked these buildings in our terrain maps.
"Another example was the location of cordons and road blocks. As the search operations expanded islandwide in response to public calls, our officers were able to swiftly set up cordon lines and road blocks which were pre-identified in the terrain maps. This enabled us to swiftly lock in the search area while other officers commenced the searches."
He added that these officers will face more complex tasks in the future, but efforts to build stronger relationships with various communities will pay off.
In fact, the deputy prime minister said such partnerships have already contributed to the fast mobilisation of the community in the search for Mas Selamat. Many organisations have stepped forward to help distribute over 210,000 pamphlets on the fugitive.
With more officers involved in the on-going search for Mas Selamat, the attendance at this year's Home Team workshop was lower compared to last year.
Despite the security breach that led to Mas Selamat's escape, Mr Wong told his audience that the Home Team spirit is still very much alive.
He said: "Indeed, without excusing the lapse which led to Mas Selamat's escape, our Home Team officers should not lose heart for they have done much to be proud of. The work of the Home Team must go on because life goes on in society, whether it is to combat crime, drugs or fire hazards or deal with those who break the law."
On a separate note, seven groups received the Home Team Achievement Awards at the workshop.