On Thursday (20 Feb), the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) revealed that six servicemen from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) were charged in military court for a breach of military law which ultimately led to the death of Dave Lee, a 19-year-old Corporal First Class (CFC).
Under Section 21 of the SAF Act, one of them, Sergeant Chia Zhi Xuan, 25, faces one charge of disobedience of general orders.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Koh Ren Zhong, 26, a safety officer for the fast march, faces one charge of negligent act endangering life, which is under Section 41(b) of the SAF Act.
National servicemen (NSmen) Chng Pheng Heng, 22, Third Sergeant Jonas Ang Kai Jie, 24, and Third Sergeant Yep Ren Jie, 22, are facing two charges of disobedience of general orders, and one charge of abuse of authority for allowing unauthorised punishment the day before the fast march.
Under Section 41(b) of the SAF Act, NSmen Corporal (NS) Tan Jin Yang, 24, a medic for the fast march is facing two charges of negligence which led to the endangering of life.
However, the march’s supervising officer, Captain Tan Baoshu, 33, who was charged in October 2018, was discharged not amounting to an acquittal last month.
Mindef has previously informed that its internal court proceedings against the six NSmen would be deferred until there is a final verdict on the criminal charges against Captain Tan. This is to avoid prejudice that may arise from the parallel proceedings.
But, Captain Tan was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, and passed away last Thursday (13 Feb).
In April 2018, CFC Lee, a guardsman from the 1st Battalion Singapore Guards, succumbed to heat injuries sustained after an 8km fast march at the Bedok Camp on April 18. CFC Lee spent more than a week in intensive care at Changi General Hospital before he passed away due to his injuries on 30th April.
During the preliminary investigations into Corporal Lee’s death, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen revealed that CFC Lee and his platoon mates were punished for half an hour as the soldiers were using their mobile phones after the lights were out. The punishment was given as a result of disregarding repeated warnings the night before the fast march.
Dressed in their official uniforms and carrying assault bags, CFC Lee and his fellow platoon mates were made to do a series of extensive physical exercises like bear crawls, sprints, leopard crawls, and push-ups.
It is reported that prior to the extensive physical exercise, CFC Lee had participated in interval training and was made to run at a faster pace than he was required to, with a shorter rest time between laps.
Minister Ng reasoned that the commanders wanted to improve the fitness of the platoon while ensuring that there is cohesion in teamwork among the platoons.