By Terry Xu
The second hearing of the coroner’s report to establish the causes behind the death of National Serviceman Private (Pte) Ganesh Pillay Magindren, 23, took place at the State court on last Thursday.
Pte Ganesh was found dead at the bottom of Sengkang condominium where he lived at on 5th July 2013. He had been suffering from schizophrenia and had enlisted as a national serviceman in the Singapore armed forces on October 2012.
Taking the stand on Thursday was Dr. Mogilan Mohan who was the Medical Officer stationed at Khatib Camp where Ganesh’s army unit was based.
Dr. Mogilan pointed out to the State Coroner, Mr Imran Abdul Hamid that there was no documents handed over from Kranji camp, the previous unit of Ganesh to the unit’s medical centre to alert them of the psychiatric condition of the serviceman. However it was noted that no handover was required as all information was supposed to be digitized and accessible via the computer system.
It was only after an initial visit to the medical centre by Ganesh on 29th November that made him aware of his medical condition by accessing Ganesh’s information via the electronic medical system.
When asked why he did not inform the officer of Pte Ganesh, Captain (Capt) Jessie Goh about his condition, Dr. Mogilan replied that he did not inform the S1 of the unit nor the commander. He had assumed that the manpower officer would have known the PES status of servicemen posted to the unit and would be in the interest of the officer to have asked the reasons behind his downgrade.
Especially since Ganesh was of E9L9, the medical grading which is just one grade above PES F that would exempt one from serving national service.
He assumed that the S1 of Ganesh’s unit would have been informed of his condition as per directive. He added that no one keeps him updated on who is coming and out of camp.
Mr.Imran said, “Those are dangerous general assumptions to have.”
When Ganesh reported sick at the medical centre on 4th July, Dr. Mogilan sat down to have a conversation with Ganesh and try to wanted to look for any possible causes of stress that is causing a spike in Ganesh’s record of reporting sick. He felt that the psychiatric problem what Ganesh had might not be at the forefront of his condition.
Dr. Mogilan also shared that he did not observe any signs from Ganesh that he was going to commit suicide on the during the last few days prior to his death. However, he later agreed with Mr.Imran that people diagnosed with Sch cannot be figured on what they would do next.
Dr. Mogilan then shared with the state coroner on signs that he would define of being suicidal.
Signs would include lack of interest on personal bearing, oral hygienic, the way they comb their hair and whether they are relevant or coherent. The person would be disorganized in his thoughts and would have disillusions.
At this point, Mr.Imran asked Dr. Moligan to read from Capt Goh’s statement of condition about Ganesh’s condition at unit, and he read the statement with a grave look. The condition stated by Capt Goh was similar to what he has described as signs of being suicidal.
Mr.Imran then asked, “Is this significant based on what you have just told us?”
“Yes” said Dr. Moligan.
In reply to the state coroner’s questions, he replied that if he had the information, he thinks that Ganesh would have benefited from some form of early psychiatric review. When asked to elaborate on what he meant by earlier psychiatric review, he said that his plan would be to have Ganesh to see the psychiatric board as the information would seem that there is a deterioration in his functioning.
Mr.Imran asked if there were any other discussion together with Capt Goh and anyone else on how to handle the serviceman. Dr.Mogilan replied, “No” and added that the only discussion he had with Capt Goh was over the phone on 4th July.
Dr. Mogilan revealed at the start of his testimony that,after the incident, he had consulted his seniors who are at the SAF Military Medicine Institute (MMI). They said that there had been no instructions to start a registry of servicemen with psychiatric conditions.
(Image from TNP)