Following the news of Mas Selamat’s escape, a majority of the local media outlets such as the Straits Times proceeded to downplay the issue of the details of his escape, instead choosing to focus on the culprit himself and the imminent threat and danger that he posed to society. Information about the errors or lapse in judgement made by the authorities, as well as public sentiments which called for the resignation of key authority figures including the Minister for Home Affairs went unreported.
Subsequently, there was a shift in focus towards some of Mas Selamat’s relatives, who were accused of harbouring and helping him, and in light of this issues regarding racial and religious affiliations were raised. To supposedly ally possible racial and religious tension that might arise, many local news outlets highlighted Mr Lim Swee Say’s comments that the incident was a test in “inter-racial tension” which “Singaporeans passed with an A+”. The news then also reported the reactions from various key figures in the Malay-Muslim community such as Minister Yaacob Ibrahim and Deputy Mufti Fatris Bakaram who commented that the incident was “disappointing” and that the act of harbouring a known fugitive from authorities “is against Islamic principles” respectively.
In addition, the local news also shifted the focus of Mas Selamat’s escape to the public, reminding everyone that they had a part to play in keeping vigilant and echoed Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s comment regarding Singaporeans’ “complacency” in attitude.
As many of the local news and media outlets are state-owned, thus they are beholden to the government and have a vested interest in publishing news which echoes the government’s perspective and does not portray the government in a negative light. However, while the government was effective in attempting to control the narrative surrounding Mas Selamat’s escape in official media, it failed to do so in unofficial media and international media. ...