9 Servicemen Deaths In 16 Months – Where Is The Accountability?

To put things in perspective, in the past 16 months alone, no less than 6 NSFs, 2 Regulars, and 1 NSman have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving the Nation in peacetime. 3 deaths were attributed to suicide, 1 from abuse, 1 from an accident, and 4 training deaths. Granted, while suicide cases are largely classified as private troubles, the recent spate of training deaths seem to be occurring at an alarming frequency. For an organization that strives for zero training deaths every work year, this safety record is a damning indictment.

Despite numerous statements from MINDEF and Ministers and the many COIs commissioned, things don’t seem to have changed much. It is about time the Generals and Ministers took responsibility. Whether that happens in the form of resignations, dismissals, or pay cuts remains to be seen. It took the death of 1 soldier from abuse in Taiwan for the Defence Minister to resign and the military standard operating procedure (SOP) to be revamped. We’ve had 9 deaths in the last 16 months, yet nothing seems to have changed.

Jan 23, 2019: CFC (NS) Aloysius Pang, died from injuries sustained during a training accident, which happened during an SAF training exercise in New Zealand

Nov 3, 2018: Corporal First Class Liu Kai, 22, died at the Jalan Murai training grounds when an armored infantry fighting vehicle reversed onto his jeep.

Oct 9, 2018: 3rd Warrant Officer (3WO) Muhammad Sadikin Hasban, 33, an Assistant Chief Company Trainer, was killed by a falling tree branch when supervising contractors performing maintenance work at a helicopter evacuation site in Brunei.

Sep 28, 2018: An NSF was found hanging from a rope in his office in Sembawang Air Base.

Sep 9, 2018: A 23-year-old police NSF died a week after he was found with a gunshot wound to his head. His service revolver was found beside him. No foul play is suspected.

Jul 28, 2018: An off-duty SAF regular servicemen was found hanging from a rope in his bunk in Nee Soon Camp.

May 13, 2018: Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, 22, died in a hazing ritual gone tragically wrong. He was pushed into a 12m-deep pump well at Tuas View Fire Station by his squadmates to celebrate the end of his two-year service. He never resurfaced.

Apr 30, 2018: Corporal First Class Dave Lee, 19, succumbed to his injuries after being hospitalized for heatstroke. He had collapsed from heat injury after completing an 8km fast march at Bedok Camp.

Sep 15, 2017: Third Sergeant Gavin Chan, 21, died in Australia during an overseas training exercise. He had been guiding an armored infantry vehicle out of difficult terrain when it landed on its side. He was found unconscious next to it, and succumbed to his injuries.”

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