Following the death of Singaporean actor and reservist Corporal First Class (National Service) Aloysius Pang on Wednesday (23 Jan) after sustaining serious injuries while carrying out repair works inside the Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer (SSPH) in New Zealand, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has issued a clarification regarding the safety record and standard operating procedures (SOP) of the SSPH.
In a statement published on the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) 's website on Wednesday (30 Jan), SAF said: "The SSPH is a 155mm, 39 calibre, tracked howitzer developed by ST Engineering Land Systems, and commissioned in 2003".
"In the last 15 years of SSPH operations, there has not been any reported injury of servicemen due to the gun lowering for maintenance or operating in or firing of the SSPH.
"Over the last 15 years, more than 1,000 servicemen, NSmen and regulars, have been trained to operate the SSPH and around 12,500 rounds fired," added SAF.
COI convened to "investigate the circumstances leading to the death" of CFC (NS) Pang
SAF also announced in its statement that a "Committee of Inquiry (COI) was convened on 25 January 2019 by the Armed Forces Council to investigate the circumstances leading to the death of Corporal First Class (National Service) [CFC (NS)] Pang Wei Chong, Aloysius".
"For this COI, a judge nominated by the State Court will be Chairman and its other members include a consultant medical specialist, a member of the External Review Panel on SAF Safety (ERPSS), a member of the Workplace Safety and Health Council, and a senior-ranked National Serviceman," added the Armed Forces.
In a bid to assure the public that the investigations will be conducted as fairly and as independently as possible, SAF stressed that "None of the COI members work within MINDEF or are SAF regulars".
"Since June last year, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) included serving or ex-judges as persons eligible to chair the COI, in addition to senior civil servants," said SAF.
Elaborating on the role of the COI into CFC (NS) Pang's death, SAF said: "The COI has full powers and access to material and witnesses to investigate the circumstances leading to the death, determine the contributory factors and make recommendations to rectify any lapses uncovered to enhance safety of training and operations."
"The COI will submit its report in full to the ERPSS for comments, questions, and views. The ERPSS will provide a written report on the COI findings, which will be made public," SAF added.
SAF concluded its statement with an announcement regarding the upcoming delivery of a Ministerial Statement by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in Parliament next month "to address the recent National Service training deaths".