Two soldiers pleaded guilty in military court on19 November (Tuesday) in relation to the death of actor and Corporal First Class (NS) Aloysius Pang.
One soldier, 35-year old Military Expert 2 (ME2) Ivan Teo Gee Siang was fined S$8,000 while 31-year-old Third Sergeant (NS) Hubert Wah Yun Teng was fined S$7,000. If they do not pay, they will be detained for 40 and 35 days respectively.
Charges were read to the two men in their army uniforms at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Court Martial Centre at Kranji Camp II on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old CFC(NS) Pang was an operationally-ready national serviceman, an armament technician in the 268th Battalion Singapore Artillery. He sustained serious injuries during a life-firing exercise in New Zealand when he was caught between the back of the gun barrel and the interior of the cabin of a Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer He died four days later of his injuries.
As he died in New Zealand, the jurisdiction of investigating Mr Pang’s death dell on the SAF Special Investigation Branch (SIB). Based on the SIB’s findings, the Chief Military Prosecutor decided to prosecute two SAF servicemen who were in the Howitzer cabin during the incident.
Teo, who is a regular technician, faced one charge of disobedience of general orders and two charges of negligent act endangering life under the SAF Act. WAh, who is a gun commander faced one charge of causing death by negligent act under the Penal Code and one charge or negligent act endangering life under the SAF Act.
The court martial panel consisted of Lieutenant-Colonel (NS) Lim Keng Yeow, who is a district judge under the Family Justice Courts on his in-camp training, and panel members Major Li Mei Fang from HQ Naval Diving Unit and Major Ong Zi Jun from HQ Air Combat Command.
COI findings on Pang’s death
Following CFC(NS) Pang’s death, the Armed Forces Council convened a committee of inquiry to look into the circumstances which led to the tragedy. The COI found that poor communication and the gun commander and technician ‘acting irrationally’ led to grave safety lapses, and consequently the death of the 28-year old national serviceman.
Findings of the COI indicated that CFC(NS) Pang was reportedly standing in the path of the moving barrel prior to the barrel being lowered, and did not move to a safe position despite being warned that the barrel was going to be lowered to a standby position.
The regular technician had also allegedly failed to make sure that Pang moved to a safe position despite knowing that the barrel would be lowered. In addition, the gun commander had moved the barrel even after being aware that CFC(NS) Pang was not in a safe position, a violation of the SSPH safety regulations.
Both the gun commander and regular technician were also found to have acted “irrationally” in failing to press the emergency stop buttons to stop the barrel movement.
Poor communication and a lack of clarity, as well as miscommunication between the gun and maintenance crew, according to the COI, were the primary factors that had led to the grave safety lapses, which in turn had caused the incident.