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At least 8 Singaporeans died in past 1.5 years while serving their nation

It was reported that Corporal First Class (CFC) Aloysius Pang Wei Chong passed away at Waikato Hospital in New Zealand yesterday (23 Jan).

Aloysius, an armament technician was said to be carrying out repair works inside a self-propelled howitzer last Sat (19 Jan) when the gun barrel was lowered, crushing him. He was with his unit undergoing reservist training at the Waiouru Training Area in New Zealand. Despite efforts to save him, he succumbed to his injuries and passed away yesterday.

Deaths continue to mount despite assurance from Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen to “eliminate” them. Last May, Minister Ng reiterated to Parliament MINDEF’s commitment to make sure training deaths within the SAF can be eliminated through “designing safety systems and enforcing them”.

He also noted that over the last two decades (20 years), there has been one NS training-related death each year on average and that the SAF Chiefs have assured him they would pay “highest command attention” to safety in SAF trainings.

“Chief of Defence Force and service chiefs have assured me that safety has always been, and will continue to, get their highest command attention to achieve zero fatalities,” Minister Ng said. “But we need every level to play their part, down to the individual commander and soldier to protect their own well-being and that of their men and their buddies.”

Singapore’s current Chief of Defence Force (CDF) is the newly promoted Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong Su Kiat. He was the Chief of the Singapore Army until 21 March 2018 before he became the CDF of Singapore.

At least 8 Singaporeans died in past 1.5 years while serving their nation

A netizen counted that at least 8 Singaporeans have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving the nation in peacetime in the past 16 months alone:

  1. Jan 23, 2019: CFC (NS) Aloysius Pang, died from injuries sustained during an ICT training in New Zealand
  2. Nov 3, 2018: Corporal First Class Liu Kai, 22, died at the Jalan Murai training grounds when an armored infantry fighting vehicle reversed into his jeep.
  3. Sep 28, 2018: An NSF was found hanging from a rope in his office in Sembawang Air Base.
  4. Sep 9, 2018: A 23-year-old police NSF died a week after he was found with a gunshot wound to his head.
  5. Jul 28, 2018: A SAF regular serviceman was found hanging from a rope in his bunk in Nee Soon Camp.
  6. May 13, 2018: SCDF NSF Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, 22, died in a ragging incident.
  7. Apr 30, 2018: CFC Dave Lee, 19, succumbed to his injuries after being hospitalized for heatstroke. His Officer in Command was charged in court.
  8. Sep 15, 2017: 3SG Gavin Chan, 21, died in a vehicular mishap at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Australia

The netizen added, “Despite numerous statements from MINDEF and Ministers and the many COIs [commission of inquries] commissioned, things don’t seem to have changed much. It is about time the Generals and Ministers took responsibility.”

What does taking responsibility mean? In Taiwan, its defence minister had to resign following the death of a young conscript in the military. However, in Singapore, it’s unlikely Minister Ng or LG Melvyn Ong would resign over Aloysius’ or any other SAF-related deaths.