No honour in SAF’s handling of dog abuse case, says NSF’s father

Picture from Spencer's Facebook post
Picture from Spencer’s Facebook post

The father of the full-time National Serviceman (NSF) who took a video of a an abandoned dog in a military bathroom has spoken out in defence of his son.

The NSF had filmed the dog, reportedly tied-up in a shower stall and “with a taut white rope tied around its neck – preventing it from moving or lying down”, according to media reports.

It is alleged that it was a lieutenant-colonel who tied up the dog at the Pasir Ris camp.

The NSF is being charged on two counts – unauthorised videography and unauthorised disclosure of information to a third party.

He had allegedly sent the video he made to Animal Lovers League founder Cathy Strong, who then posted the clip online.

The Ministry of Defence said that it had conducted an investigation into the matter and found that there was no abuse of the dog.

Mr Simon Spencer, writing on his Facebook page, said, “There was no honour in the way this situation was handled by the Singapore Armed Forces.”

He said his son and eight other NSFs also witnessed the senior officer hitting the dog.

“[Things] got out of hand this time when the lieutenant colonel personally brutally hit an innocent dog in the presence of the NS men, as a demonstration of “how it is done” in order to ensure that the strays would not dare to approach the army camp in future. This was witnessed by my son and eight other NSFs who were threatened to be charged if they did not keep their silence.”

He said he is proud of what his son has done, while acknowledging that there are protocols in the army.

“[As a] father to my son, I love him and I am fully supportive of how he handled this case. I’m very proud of him and all his colleagues who assisted him in this act of humanity. They demonstrated courage and selflessness when they stepped up to save these innocent poor creatures from being harmed further, instead of cowering in fear and silence lest they suffer the consequences of standing up for what is right.”

Here is Mr Spencer’s Facebook post in full:

st dog abuse2The video of a dog being suspended by a rope was taken by my son. He is one of the National Service Fulltime (NSF) stationed at Pasir Ris Camp. This unruly behaviour started a while back with the warrant officer throwing a truncheon at the dogs to chase them away. The stated reason was that the dogs had bitten one of the admin staff. My son had asked me to report this case to Mindef. As parents and avid animal lovers we made the call to Mindef. However, things got out of hand this time when the lieutenant colonel personally brutally hit an innocent dog in the presence of the NS men, as a demonstration of “how it is done” in order to ensure that the strays would not dare to approach the army camp in future. This was witnessed by my son and eight other NSFs who were threatened to be charged if they did not keep their silence. In addition to this inhumane act, a dog was hung with ropes in the toilet in the context of retaining the dog for collection by AVA. My son quickly brought the case up to Cathy, one of the founding members of Animal Lovers League, who immediately drove down to collect the dog. The lieutenant colonel was very upset when he saw Cathy taking the dog away. He wanted her to hand it over to AVA’s officer who arrived to collect it. When Cathy asked why he wanted to see it put to sleep when she was willing to take care of it until she could find it a good home, he shouted at her to hand the dog over to AVA’s officer or he would call the police. At this, Cathy told him to go ahead and she would call the media 

My son and one of his senior colleagues will be charged today because they had breached the camp protocol, and thus face two charges. First, taking the video in a green zone camp (no photography and video allowed), and second, for allowing Cathy access to the video, which was then released to the public. The video was then circulated on social networking sites and instigated a public outcry. His senior colleague will be charge for allowing my son to leave the camp and approach Cathy for help that day. However, the lieutenant colonel will not be charged due to Mindef claiming that after investigation there was no dog abuse, even after they took the statements of my son and the eight other NSFs of Pasir Ris Camp who witnessed the lieutenant colonel abuse a dog. After this incident, Cathy was called up by Mindef to give the name of the person who handed her the video. She was assured that this was purely for investigation purposes into the animal abuse and no charges would be pressed against the army personnel involved in taking the video. 

It is clear that Mindef did not keep to their word to Cathy when two officers informed me that my son will be charged. The excuse given for this by Mindef was “mismanagement”. There was no honour in the way this situation was handled by the Singapore Armed Forces. It is only our word against theirs with regards to the empty promise that was made. When our son enlisted, we were assured that he would be in good hands. “From boys to men” is the famous catch phrase used by the SAF. He was supposed to receive fair treatment and discipline from those in charge, and taught how to be “man” in order to serve his country. However, neither my son nor his colleague were treated with honour. Is this really what we want for our sons? Do we want them to blindly listen to authority and to stand aside when crime against innocent animals is committed before their eyes? Does rank and power outweigh basic human qualities such as compassion and fighting for what is right? Is this how our society has raised our children? What is the army saying by charging them, the ones who are lower in rank and basically helpless, and allowing the perpetrator of these heinous acts to go scot free? 

Without a belief in justice, honour and compassion, we are worth less than animals. What happened to my son and his colleague was not a simple case of a breach of protocol but more of a cover up for the misdeeds of those in high positions within the Army. The SAF seems to be highly concerned in preserving their name and image, rather than see proper justice carried out. As a National Service man, he does not possess the right to tell high ranking officers what they can or cannot do. But as a father to my son, I love him and I am fully supportive of how he handled this case. I’m very proud of him and all his colleagues who assisted him in this act of humanity. They demonstrated courage and selflessness when they stepped up to save these innocent poor creatures from being harmed further, instead of cowering in fear and silence lest they suffer the consequences of standing up for what is right. 

SONS: 
“Never give in- no matter great or small, large or petty, never give in to what you live by except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” 
-Sir Winston Churchill

To all my friends, parents and citizens who have a heart, please help me and these innocent creatures by spreading and sharing this message to raise awareness of such beastly acts that exist in our very own homeland.