Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in Parliament on Monday (11 February) that he was sorry for the recent National Service (NS) training deaths. He also pledged to hold the Defence Ministry (MINDEF) and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) accountable for every soldier entrusted to them.
“I am deeply sorry for the loss of four precious NSmen (national servicemen) in the last 17 months,” he mentioned in a ministerial statement addressing the deaths. “MINDEF and the SAF will hold ourselves accountable for every single NSman entrusted to us.”
The minister’s apology came after the recent death of Singaporean actor Aloysius Pang on 23 January. The 28-year-old died in New Zealand after sustaining injuries while carrying out repair works inside the Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer (SSPH), four days earlier.
Prior to the actor’s death, full-time national serviceman (NSF) Liu Kai died on 3 November 2018 after a Bionix vehicle reversed into the Land Rover he was driving, while NSF Dave Lee passed away 30 April last year, nearly two weeks after showing signs of heat injury following an 8km fast march.
In addition, NSF Gavin Chan, 21, died on 15 September 2017 after he was ejected from a Bionix during another overseas exercise in Queensland, Australia.
“This imperative of NS and our national defence does not absolve or reduce the accountability of MINDEF and the SAF in any way, to ensure safe training,” Dr Ng said.
He added, “On the contrary, it compels MINDEF and the SAF to do all that is humanly possible to prevent training deaths for NSmen because precious sons have been entrusted to us by their families.”
Upon reading his apology, many netizens were not convinced with his sorry. They still feel that the right thing for Dr Ng to do is to resign from his position.