Friday, 18 May 2018

Ministerial Statement on National Service Training Deaths by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen in Parliament on 17 May and 6 August 2018

Tighter discipline and safety rules following NSF deaths
Trust placed in Govt to keep enlistees safe during NS won't be taken lightly: Ministers
By Aw Cheng Wei, The Straits Times, 18 May 2018

The trust that Singaporeans place in the Government to keep their children safe during national service will not be taken lightly, and commanders at all levels are responsible for ensuring safety.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam made this pledge in Parliament yesterday as they revealed moves to tighten safety rules and discipline after deaths of two full-time national servicemen (NSFs).

One was a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) soldier who died during training, and another a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer who drowned after taking part in a prohibited ragging ritual.

Referring to the SAF case, Dr Ng said: "We must constantly improve the rigour of our safety systems. If we don't, it will mean another precious soldier lost to a family."



He said the External Review Panel on SAF Safety - an existing group comprising senior medical consultants and academics that scrutinises the military's safety management - will have a member appointed to Committees of Inquiry (COIs) to address potential lapses.

COIs are to submit reports to the panel, which will make the findings public after it reviews them.

Separately, Mr Shanmugam said new measures will be taken against unauthorised activities such as ragging, adding that more information will be released next week.

He stressed that it is the command's responsibility to ensure that unauthorised activities are not repeated. "Parents send their children to NS, they trust us. We have to maintain their trust."



The pledges come after the deaths of two NSFs within a fortnight.

On Sunday, SCDF Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, 22, died after a ragging ritual went awry at Tuas View Fire Station. Criminal charges are "almost certain", Mr Shanmugam said. Two SCDF regulars have been arrested, with more being probed.

On April 30, Corporal First Class (CFC) Dave Lee Han Xuan, a 19-year-old Guardsman, died in hospital, close to two weeks after he displayed heat injuries during training.

A COI has been convened to investigate his death. A coroner's inquiry may be held, pending the outcome of police investigations.

An external medical panel would also be set up to recommend how measures and policies in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) on heat injuries can be improved.

Rumours had circulated online after news broke of CFC Lee's death that he and his fellow trainees were punished the night before an 8km fast march the following morning.

At his funeral, the NSF's mother called for an immediate halt to "tekan", or punishment, sessions.

Noting that there are accusations against CFC Lee's commanders, Dr Ng said the COI and police will fully investigate the circumstances to establish the facts.

"We will deal with any wrongdoing thoroughly. Those that deserve to be punished will be punished."



However, Dr Ng also urged caution against discouraging or unfairly punishing commanders who are executing their responsibilities dutifully.

"Because many commanders are national servicemen too, who take seriously this mission we in society have imposed on them - to train capable fighting units able to defend Singapore against all threats."

Yesterday, Dr Ng also shared findings from a coroner's inquiry conducted by the Australian authorities and a COI by the SAF into the death of Third Sergeant Gavin Chan, 21.

The vehicle commander died during an exercise in Queensland last September when the vehicle he was guiding landed on its side.

Dr Ng said the SAF has tightened training safety regulations accordingly, and introduced more training for armoured vehicle commanders over uneven terrain, among other things.



















Safety rules to be tightened for armoured vehicle commanders
Move follows death of NSF in accident last Sept during military exercise in Australia
By Aw Cheng Wei, The Straits Times, 18 May 2018

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will tighten training safety regulations for armoured vehicle commanders following the death of a full-time national serviceman (NSF) last September.

The tightened rules will limit the exposure of the vehicle commander's body to waist level when he is executing certain operational tasks in a vehicle, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.

Last September, Third Sergeant Gavin Chan, 21, died during an annual military drill in Queensland, Australia, when the vehicle he was commanding landed on its side.

A Queensland coroner's report said it was unfortunate that he had positioned himself with a significant part of his body exposed outside the vehicle.

The Australian police did not find the vehicle defective, the coroner said, adding it was likely that the incident occurred due to 3SG Chan's decision to reverse on a slightly different path down the hill. As a result, he was ejected from the vehicle and suffered significant injuries when it landed on its side, said the coroner.



In his ministerial statement, Dr Ng said the SAF has followed up on the incident and implemented additional training for armoured vehicle commanders over uneven terrain. He said the findings from the Australian authorities are corroborated by those of a Committee of Inquiry convened to look into the incident.

But the committee also found that the night vision device on 3SG Chan's vehicle was not working.

According to training safety regulations, vehicle commanders should immediately stop the vehicle and stop participating in the exercise if the device is faulty.

The committee proposed that the SAF review training safety rules on the position of the armoured vehicle commander. It also recommended stronger compliance and checks on night vision devices, and penalising those who do not wear seat belts when a vehicle is moving.

In response, the SAF has implemented a drill to formalise the operational procedure for day-to-night and night-to-day transitions. This includes a check on night vision devices and other night-fighting equipment, said Dr Ng, adding that there will be checks on seat belts.

"Disciplinary actions will be taken against those found in breach of safety," he said.




 











Full investigations on but no need for witch-hunt, says Ng Eng Hen
By Tan Tam Mei and Aw Cheng Wei, The Straits Times, 18 May 2018

Facts will be established after investigations into training deaths are completed, and there is no need for a witch-hunt in the meantime, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.

Speaking on measures taken by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) after two training deaths over the past year, Dr Ng said in his ministerial statement in Parliament that offenders will be punished when they are found to have breached safety rules or when they have placed others in danger.


"We want to assure the parents of any unfortunate national serviceman who has died that facts will be established," he said, emphasising that a full investigation will be conducted, with no cover-ups.


"Neither should we go on a witch-hunt if there are honest mistakes because the commanders are someone else's son too. Most of our SAF commanders are national servicemen...


"You want to strike a balance, you want to make sure that we in this House send the appropriate signal: Safety first, do your job. If you abuse your position, you will be punished. But if you do your job dutifully, all the facts will come out and you need not fear but continue to do your job."


Dr Ng was responding to Mr Murali Pillai's (Bukit Batok) question on investigation processes into the training deaths.


On April 30, Corporal First Class Dave Lee, 19, died in hospital after he displayed heat injuries during training. In September last year, Third Sergeant Gavin Chan, 21, died in an overseas military exercise when the vehicle he was guiding landed on its side.




Dr Ng addressed both deaths in his statement yesterday, and he said he was aware of accusations being made against CFC Lee's commanders. A Committee of Inquiry (COI) has been convened to look into CFC Lee's death. "We should let the independent COI and police fully investigate the circumstances to arrive at fact-based conclusions," he said.

A total of 13 MPs responded to Dr Ng's statement. They asked about investigation processes, suggested improvements to training safety and wanted to know about the suitability of full-time national servicemen (NSFs) to be commanders in a question-and-answer session that lasted for about 25 minutes.


Workers' Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh asked if the Ministry of Defence would consider releasing COI reports as a form of closure to the public, with sensitive and operational details redacted. Dr Ng said that the ministry is prepared to do so, barring sensitive or security reasons.



Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) asked about the existence of a "tekan" culture during national service, referring to a phenomenon where NSFs might be given an extra hard time by their commanders or peers, such as more physical training and weekend duties. She asked if such a culture was allowed, whether there were channels for reporting and the range of punishments that would be meted out.

Dr Ng said that while the SAF wants its soldiers to be well-trained, it is not an excuse for commanders to abuse their positions.

"If it is not safe for whatever reason, it is wrong," said Dr Ng, noting that intentions are irrelevant when it comes to safety.

Commanders do not deserve to be leaders if they do not know how to protect their men, which the regulations are supposed to do, he added.

"You don't deserve to be a commander and you will be punished accordingly," Dr Ng said.

WP Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan asked if more training would be given to junior commanders. Dr Ng said that commanders have to go through safety training in cadet schools. He said MINDEF can consider Mr Tan's suggestion, but there is limited time to train every commander again.















External review panel evaluated SAF safety practices
By Aw Cheng Wei, The Straits Times, 18 May 2018

The External Review Panel on SAF Safety (ERPSS) was set up in 2013 to assess various safety aspects of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) over a three-year tenure.


Its work included making visits to army, navy and air force units to evaluate safety practices and recommend improvements.


The first panel was chaired by Mr Alan Chan Heng Loon, former chief executive of Singapore Press Holdings. Its members included senior medical consultants, law firm partners and high-level civil servants.


During their tenure, panel members visited 14 SAF formations, units and exercises to observe their safety practices and recommend improvements.


After a three-year review, the inaugural panel found that SAF commanders strongly emphasised safety in their training.


Members also said that the SAF has invested substantially in safety, and its management systems are sound and aligned with external industry standards.




The SAF also provides good medical support and healthcare for its soldiers, members said.

Still, there were areas that could be improved.

For example, the military could further promote the open reporting of accidents through the range of channels that are in place.

Members also suggested that it might be useful to share best practices across SAF units, so that they can learn from one another.

According to a MINDEF statement in March last year, the SAF had accepted the panel's findings and it was in the process of implementing the recommendations.

The second ERPSS was formed in July last year.

Currently, it is being headed by Mr Heng Chiang Gnee, who was the chairman of the Workplace Safety and Health Council between April 2016 and March this year.

He was also a member of the inaugural panel.















Criminal proceedings almost certain in death of SCDF NSF, says Shanmugam
By Tan Tam Mei, The Straits Times, 18 May 2018

There will almost certainly be criminal proceedings taken over the death of Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) full-time national serviceman (NSF) Kok Yuen Chin.


Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said: "There will almost certainly be criminal proceedings. The Attorney-General's Chambers has told me that, after reviewing the facts at this stage.


"Based on the facts that I have seen, I think so too. There should be criminal charges."




The SCDF and Home Team agencies are relooking the rules and coming up with a new set of measures against ragging or unauthorised conduct, he said.


They will see what went wrong, and learn the lessons, looking into what more can be done to stop this behaviour, he added.


Referring to Corporal Kok's case, Mr Shanmugam said: "What I can say is that the conduct was unacceptable. It was a clear and serious violation of the rules, and there can be no excuse for the conduct."


Cpl Kok, 22, died after going through ragging activities that involved him getting into a fire station pump well. The Singapore permanent resident had been celebrating his impending operationally ready date (ORD) with station mates on Sunday, and was later found unconscious in the pump well.


The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had said that among the officers involved in the ongoing police investigations, two SCDF regulars had been arrested and another four had their upcoming promotions withheld.




Speaking after Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen's statement about the recent NSF deaths in Parliament, Mr Shanmugam said there will almost certainly be criminal proceedings in Cpl Kok's case. MHA has released all the details it can at this stage.

Mr Shanmugam said there is also a fair bit of evidence about what had happened, including witnesses and other "objective evidence", but it would be inappropriate to go into details of the facts at this point.



A Board of Inquiry, which will look into Cpl Kok's death and make recommendations to prevent similar incidents, will be chaired by a senior director from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.


"Majority of the members will be from outside the government," said Mr Shanmugam, adding that the facts will be made public through court proceedings. "Everything that is relevant will be out."

Highlighting SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap's letter to SCDF officers earlier on Wednesday evening, Mr Shanmugam stressed that it was the command's responsibility to ensure that unauthorised activities, such as ragging, are not repeated.

"Parents send their children to NS, they trust us. We have to maintain their trust," he said.
















SCDF NSF's death: Promotions of four officers withheld: MHA
Police probe into pump-well death widens after earlier arrests
By Tan Tam Mei, The Straits Times, 17 May 2018

Police investigations into the death of a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) full-time national serviceman have widened to include more officers, with four having their promotions withheld.


Two regular SCDF officers, who were arrested on Monday in relation to the death of Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, will also be suspended from service on half-pay pending the outcome of investigations.


The duo - a First Warrant Officer and a Staff Sergeant - were Cpl Kok's colleagues who worked on the same shift duty at the fire station.


The four whose promotions are being withheld were supposed to move up the ranks on June 1, according to a statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) yesterday that provided updates on Cpl Kok's case.


Cpl Kok, 22, died after he was found unconscious inside a pump well at Tuas View Fire Station on Sunday night.


The Singapore permanent resident had been celebrating his impending operationally ready date with his squad mates, which involved his getting into the pump well as part of ragging activities. He would have completed his service yesterday.




The MHA added that a Board of Inquiry (BOI) convened to look into his death and to make recommendations to prevent similar incidents will be chaired by a senior director from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.


The BOI will include members who are not from MHA or SCDF, and it will submit its report to the Minister for Home Affairs. Separately, the state coroner may call for an inquiry into the death. The Attorney-General's Chambers is also reviewing the case with a view to criminal proceedings.


The police arrested the two regular SCDF officers based on preliminary investigations into what happened, including how Cpl Kok fell into the pump well and whether anyone is criminally responsible.




SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap, in a letter yesterday to all officers, said unit commanders would be accountable and responsible for any unauthorised initiation or ragging activities by any personnel under their charge.


He added that he had personally briefed all commanders on Tuesday and underlined the importance of command responsibility.

"As an organisation, and as individuals, I am sure every one of us is grieved and horrified by this unfortunate incident. Each day, we put our lives at risk to protect and save lives and property. We pride ourselves on being the life-saving force," he said.




"But among us, there may be some who flout the rules, or turn a blind eye to unauthorised initiation or ragging activities being carried out by officers who clearly do not embrace our core values.


"Let me be clear about this - those of us who are aware of, or have seen such acts being carried out but yet do not stop or report these acts, also bear responsibility. We cannot condone or allow any wrongdoing."


 


Stressing that commanders are entrusted with the responsibility to look after the men and women who risk their lives every day, the commissioner said: "There must be zero tolerance for any officer who contravenes the rules, and we must take all necessary measures to eradicate such activities."

He pointed out that Cpl Kok would have completed his full-time national service yesterday and left the SCDF with a strong testimonial reflecting his good performance and outstanding conduct.


"Even as we mourn the loss of one of our own, we owe it to Cpl Kok to ensure that this must never happen again," he added.






















* SCDF to install metal grating over fire station pump wells and more CCTVs following NSF death
It also takes other measures to weed out ragging culture following death of NSF
By Tan Tam Mei, The Straits Times, 24 May 2018

Metal grating will be installed across the openings of fire station pump wells and will be locked to prevent unauthorised access - one of several measures introduced by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) to weed out a ragging culture that led to the death of a full-time national serviceman (NSF).

Other measures revealed yesterday in a statement by the SCDF include the expansion of closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera coverage at its premises to deter and detect unauthorised activities.

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam had said in Parliament last week that the SCDF and Home Team agencies would be reviewing and enhancing their measures following the death of Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, an NSF.

The Malaysian national and Singapore permanent resident, 22, died after going through ragging activities that involved him getting into a fire station pump well. He had been celebrating his impending operationally ready date with station mates on May 13, and was later found unconscious in the pump well.

A Board of Inquiry (BOI) has been convened to look into the incident.



Other measures include stiffer penalties for officers if they are found guilty of participating in any ragging or unauthorised initiation activities. Currently, NSFs or operationally ready national servicemen are liable to a detention sentence of up to 40 days, in addition to a demotion in rank.

SCDF regulars will also be disciplined under the Public Service Commission's disciplinary framework and are liable to be fined, demoted or dismissed from service.

These penalties will be extended to officers who are found to have been aware of such activities but did nothing to stop or report them.

As part of enhancements to command responsibility within the force, SCDF also said all unit commanders have been told they will be held personally accountable for ragging and unauthorised initiation activities that take place in their units.

Division commanders will also hold one-on-one sessions with commanders under them to ensure they are fully aware of their responsibilities. In addition, newly appointed commanders will have to undergo a training programme that will convey the expectations of command and advise them on detecting and preventing such activities.



A 24/7 hotline will also be set up to add to the existing whistle-blowing framework for officers to raise grievances and instances of misconduct within the organisation.

The force will also enhance feedback and monitoring channels by conducting one-to-one interviews fortnightly between NSFs and senior SCDF officers who are not based at the same station.

These will take place in the last three months of the NSF's service. Any case of unauthorised activities reported during these interviews will be raised to SCDF senior management for follow-up action.

Now, similar fortnightly interviews are held between NSFs and their supervisors during their first three months in a new unit. The sessions take place on a quarterly basis thereafter.

Existing initiatives against ragging and unauthorised initiation activities also include periodic briefings on anti-ragging awareness, and videos and posters to increase awareness of SCDF's zero-tolerance policy against ragging, it said in the release. The SCDF added it will also carefully consider any further recommendations from the BOI.





Enhanced measures to be taken
By Tan Tam Mei, The Straits Times, 24 May 2018

Improved infrastructure

Metal grating will be installed across the opening of fire station pump wells, which will be locked to prevent unauthorised access.

Also, closed-circuit television coverage within SCDF premises will be expanded to deter and detect unauthorised activities.

Stiffer penalties

Penalties for engaging in ragging or unauthorised initiation activities will be extended to SCDF officers who are found to be aware of such activities but did not attempt to stop or report them.





New whistle-blowing hotline

A new 24/7 staff feedback helpline will enhance the existing whistle-blowing framework for officers to raise grievances or to flag misconduct.

More dialogue channels

The SCDF will conduct fortnightly interviews between full-time national servicemen and senior SCDF officers who are not based in the same station, for impartiality. The one-on-one interviews will be held during the last three months of the NSFs' service, where they can bring up issues of concern. Training for new commanders All newly appointed commanders will have to undergo a training programme.

They will learn about the expectations of command, be advised on how to detect and prevent ragging and unauthorised activities, and also how to identify vulnerable individuals.










 




** Death of NSF Dave Lee: SAF can improve heat injury prevention and response, review panel finds
Review flags two areas for improvement after NSF's death, but finds policies sound
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 21 Jun 2018

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) can improve its prevention against heat injuries and its response to them, a review panel has found.

Chief of Defence Force Melvyn Ong revealed on Tuesday that an external review panel flagged two areas for improvement - though he declined to elaborate further.

The panel was formed to look into the heat injury management practices of the SAF following the death of 19-year-old full-time national serviceman Dave Lee.

However, he added that the panel found the SAF's heat injury policies sound and aligned with industry and foreign military practices.



Corporal First Class Lee died of a heat injury on April 30 after a training incident. The panel, comprising doctors from the public healthcare sector, was formed to review the existing strategy for heat injury prevention and management in the SAF.

Major-General Ong said that the panel's recommendations will be made public when they are ready in a few months.

He addressed last month's call by CFC Lee's mother to put a stop to outdated punishment, or "tekan", after her son died while in service.

Speaking to reporters at Bukit Panjang Camp ahead of SAF Day on July 1, he promised that all those found guilty of wrongdoing in the incident will be held accountable. "We have been, and will continue to hold our commanders accountable to the highest standards," he said. "You have our assurance on this."

Asked about the "tekan" culture in the Guards formation, the former chief guards officer said: "There has to be purpose, there has to be training directives, there has to be safety coverage, and if these are absent, and especially absent of purpose and reason, we will not tolerate this."



Maj-Gen Ong said that the panel visited Bedok Camp, where the incident took place, to review how heat injury protocols were implemented on the ground.

The visit included a brief by Guards Headquarters and a demonstration of how heatstroke cases are treated at the medical centre.

The five-member panel is chaired by Associate Professor Mark Leong, who is a senior consultant at the Department of Emergency Medicine at Singapore General Hospital.

Maj-Gen Ong, who took over as chief in March, also shared his vision of the SAF in a 45-minute interview. "The SAF of the future has to be ready, it has got to be dynamic and it has got to be strong," he said.

"In the third-generation SAF (since 2004), it was about being better connected and exploiting information, and getting power to the edge. The next-generation SAF is about being smarter."

He cited the use of video analytics and unmanned aerial vehicles as areas of opportunity.

Maj-Gen Ong said his aims as defence chief are ensuring that the SAF is ready today and in the future, while maintaining strong support for defence.

"The SAF resides within an ecosystem which relies very strongly on national service, and therefore support for defence and national service is extremely important. And if there is an erosion, we would be very concerned."

On some of his personal motivations, he recalled how, when he was a child, his grandmother used to talk about her bad memories of the Japanese Occupation.

He said: "It showed the importance of defence... of being in charge of your own fate. It highlighted the importance that you must be able to defend what you have, and if you don't, it is not yours."















Army combat soldiers get new hybrid uniforms that cool faster
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 21 Jun 2018

Singapore Armed Forces soldiers are now wearing new, cooler and faster-drying hybrid uniforms when training out in the field, reducing the risk of heat injuries.

The body of the uniform is made of a green T-shirt-like fabric that is a combination of flame-resistant synthetic material and aramid. The long sleeves are of the pixelised fabric used in the standard No. 4 uniform.

The new uniform is 40 per cent more permeable and dries 60 per cent faster than the standard No. 4 uniform, providing better air circulation and heat dissipation.

It was rolled out in January for soldiers in army combat units, and unveiled to the media on Tuesday.

The hybrid uniform will be worn during outfield exercises and combat physical training. The No. 4 uniform will be worn for other routine activities such as parades.

All soldiers in the 3rd and 6th Battalions of the Singapore Infantry Regiment (3SIR and 6SIR) have been given two sets of the new uniforms. Other combat units will be fully equipped by the year end.

Said Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Yee Kok Meng, head of the Centre of Excellence for Soldier Performance: "When soldiers wear the integrated load-bearing vests (on top of the hybrid uniform), they would feel more comfortable and endure longer in a combat environment."

The integrated load-bearing vest is a type of combat vest.

There are no plans for operationally-ready national servicemen (NSmen) to wear the hybrid uniform.



SLTC Yee said the centre, which opened last December, has implemented a programme that allows soldiers to do supervised recovery exercises at seven of their own units, instead of being referred to a specialist.

Before the programme, a soldier might take weeks to get a specialist appointment, so the new programme helps cut waiting time.

In these units, preliminary data shows that soldiers now experience about 30 per cent fewer musculoskeletal injuries.

Lower back, knee and ankle injuries form about 70 per cent of all musculoskeletal injuries suffered by soldiers, according to army studies.

A wearable technology prototype will also be trialled by 150 cadets from the Officer Cadet School for six months.

The sensor, which can be worn as an armband, can gather information such as pulse rate, skin temperature and sleep activity.

The data gathered can be used to develop a training application for soldiers to track their own performance, and a real-time monitoring system to help commanders detect soldiers in distress.



The centre has also developed a four-week Vocation Fitness Training, a customised programme divided into three main types: combat, combat support and combat service support units.

The training will be customised to what the soldiers do out in the field. For example, exercises will target strengthening the lower body and increasing endurance for carrying heavy loads over long distances.

Second Sergeant Simone Goh, 23, a section commander in 4SIR, said: "For infantry soldiers, we have to (work for) the combat skills badge in the future, which requires walking for 32km, and navigation exercises overseas for up to 50km, so this training would help build up our endurance."




















*** Death of NSF Dave Lee: SAF commanders have plugged gaps, no interference with ongoing probes, says Ng Eng Hen in SAF Day 2018 interview
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 30 Jun 2018

Singapore Armed Forces commanders have plugged the gaps and reduced as much as possible weaknesses that have been identified following the death of Corporal First Class Dave Lee from heat injury, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

Dr Ng added that there would be no interference from the Ministry of Defence and SAF over four concurrent investigations into CFC Lee's death in April and would live with "whatever they conclude with".

He said on Friday (June 29): "Our commanders take it very seriously upon themselves. If they need instructions from me then they shouldn't be commanders. They know that this is top priority and they dealt with it swiftly."

Dr Ng was responding to a question on the interim measures the SAF had taken following the incident, during an interview at Mindef ahead of SAF Day on July 1.

CFC Lee, 19, died on April 30 after being hospitalised for heat injury. He had completed an 8km fast march in Bedok Camp on April 18.



Citing police investigations, the coroner's inquiry, a Committee of Inquiry looking into the incident and an external panel's inquiry into the SAF's heat injury management, Dr Ng said Mindef will not interfere with such processes.

"As much as I want them to be hurried as well, they are all outside the SAF and we have to be patient. But we want a full discovery of facts so that they come to their independent conclusions. I don't think we want to prejudge and we shouldn't."

He added: "There will certainly be no interference from Mindef and SAF. And we will live with whatever they conclude with."

Chief of Defence Force Melvyn Ong said on June 19 that an external review panel formed to look into the heat injury management practices of the SAF after the incident found two areas of improvement.

These are in the SAF's prevention and response to heat injuries.

He said then that the panel's recommendations will be made public when they are ready in a few months.

Dr Ng said: "I think Singaporeans will understand that that's the best system, open system, transparent system - (to have) independent processes when something (has) happened."









**** Parliament: SAF takes zero-tolerance approach to abuse of soldiers by commanders or peers, says Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen
By Sue-Ann Tan, The Straits Times, 11 Jul 2018

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will deal severely with any personnel found to have abused their peers or subordinates, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in Parliament yesterday.

"The Ministry of Defence and the SAF take a zero-tolerance approach towards any form of abuse of soldiers or personnel, either by their commanders or peers," he said.

Dr Ng gave this assurance to Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan, who asked if any form of ragging was allowed in the SAF and whether such activity was part of the recognised duties of any SAF officer.


"Acts of humiliation are specifically prohibited," said Dr Ng.




The issue of ragging in the uniformed forces came under the spotlight after the deaths of two full-time national servicemen (NSFs) in the last few months.

On April 30, Corporal First Class Dave Lee Han Xuan, 19, died in hospital of heatstroke, after displaying signs of heat injury upon completing an 8km fast march in Bedok Camp.


On May 13, Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, a 22-year-old Singapore Civil Defence Force NSF, died after going through ragging activities that involved him getting into a fire-station pump well.


Dr Ng said yesterday that the SAF has over the years put in place a comprehensive safety management system, where all training activities conducted have to be authorised and clearly outlined with safety measures and limits.


"While military training aims to build up the physical and psychological resilience of soldiers, and instil discipline, their safety need not be compromised," he said.




Dr Ng stressed that SAF personnel who engage in bullying, conduct unauthorised activities or negligently fail to follow training safety regulations have been and will continue to be severely dealt with, and prosecuted within the SAF or in the State Courts.


He cited a few cases, including one in which a trainee died after being submerged in water during a Combat Survival Training course. In 2005, the supervising officer, conducting officer and instructors from the commando unit who were involved in this case were sentenced to six to 12 months' jail by the State Courts.


Dr Ng said SAF soldiers are encouraged to report any unauthorised activity or punishment. New recruits are specifically briefed on how they can do so through their unit supervisors or feedback units.









*****  5 SCDF personnel charged over death of NSF found in fire station pump well after ragging incident
Eight others present during alleged ragging incident being investigated
By Tan Tam Mei and Ng Huiwen, The Straits Times, 26 Jul 2018

Five Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) regular personnel were charged yesterday in relation to the death of full-time national serviceman (NSF) Kok Yuen Chin in May.

Another eight officers present during the alleged ragging incident at Tuas View Fire Station on May 13 are being investigated by the SCDF.

The five men charged were Mohammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood, 33; Mohamed Farid Mohamed Saleh, 34; Kenneth Chong Chee Boon, 37; Nazhan Mohamed Nazi, 40; and Adighazali Suhaimi, 32.

Court documents shed some light on what happened the night Corporal Kok was found unconscious at the bottom of a fire station pump well.

Nur Fatwa, a staff sergeant, had allegedly pushed Cpl Kok, 22, into the 12m-deep pump well at 9.07pm, causing him to drown.

Later that night at 11.23pm, he allegedly told Adighazali, also a staff sergeant, to delete a video of the incident. Nur Fatwa had allegedly acted on the instigation of Farid, a first warrant officer, to push Cpl Kok into the pump well.



Chong, a lieutenant, and Nazhan, a first senior warrant officer, were respectively the rota commander and deputy rota commander on duty on the night of the incident.

They had allegedly failed to prevent the group from pressuring Cpl Kok to enter the pump well, thereby endangering his life.

Adighazali had also allegedly deleted a video on his mobile phone of Cpl Kok being pushed into the pump well that was relevant to criminal investigations.

All the officers, except for Nur Fatwa, are due to appear in court again on Sept 3. Nur Fatwa's lawyer said that her client intends to plead guilty. His case will be heard on Sept 25.

In a statement yesterday, police said they have referred eight other officers who were present during the incident to the SCDF for departmental investigations.

SCDF confirmed this, adding that six of them are regular officers, and two are NSFs.

If they are found to have contravened SCDF rules and regulations, the regular officers will face public service disciplinary action, which may include dismissal from service or demotion in rank.

The NSFs will be liable for detentions or demotions in rank , or both, said the SCDF.



During the May 13 incident, Cpl Kok, a Singapore permanent resident from Malaysia, had been celebrating his impending operationally ready date with his squad mates, which involved him getting into the pump well as part of ragging activities.

He would have completed his service in two days.

A day after Cpl Kok's death, Nur Fatwa and Farid were arrested and suspended from service on half-pay pending investigations, The Straits Times understands.

A Board of Inquiry was convened to look into Cpl Kok's death and to make recommendations to prevent similar incidents.

Following the death, the SCDF beefed up its anti-ragging measures, including installing a metal grating across the openings of fire station pump wells to prevent unauthorised access.
















******  Ministerial Statement by Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, on Findings and Follow-Up Actions on National Service Training Death for Parliament Sitting on 6 August 2018






SAF tightens measures to prevent heat injuries
Committee of Inquiry finds lapses and breaches in lead-up to serviceman's death
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2018

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has introduced steps to improve the way it manages heat injuries among national servicemen, following lapses and breaches in training and safety as well as casualty mismanagement that led to the death of a serviceman in April.

The measures include expanding the use of purpose-built cooling pads, implementing an arm immersion cooling system and simplifying evacuation procedures.

Giving a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding Corporal First Class (CFC) Dave Lee Han Xuan's death based on the preliminary assessment of the Committee of Inquiry (COI), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen disclosed the steps taken as he stressed the need for safety.

"We need a strong SAF that can defend Singapore, but it must and can be built without compromising the safety and well-being of Singapore's precious sons serving national service (NS)," Dr Ng said in a ministerial statement.



CFC Lee, 19, a Guardsman from the 1st Battalion Singapore Guards, died on April 30, two weeks after being admitted to Changi General Hospital for heatstroke. He had completed an 8km fast march in Bedok Camp on April 18 before he showed signs of heat injury.

During training the day before the fast march, CFC Lee had to run at a faster pace than he was required to, said Dr Ng. The commanders did this to enhance fitness and foster cohesion in the platoon, but this was a breach of training safety regulations, he added.

Later that night, CFC Lee's platoon was punished for about 30 minutes after some soldiers were repeatedly found to be using their mobile phones after lights out.

The punishment comprised bear crawls, sprints, leopard crawls, push-ups and crunches, and the soldiers also had water poured over them. They eventually had about six hours and 15 minutes of sleep instead of the stipulated seven hours.

The commanders did not seek prior approval for this "informal punishment" or inform their superiors after it was done.

The next day, CFC Lee was the last to complete the 8km fast march. Shortly after, he was seen to be disoriented and was immediately attended to.

Those who attended to him thought he was suffering from physical exhaustion, and the COI found there was inadequate on-site casualty management. His evacuation to the medical centre was also delayed.

Dr Ng said that the COI also noted that while CFC Lee had no significant medical history, he had been taking medication in the weeks prior to the march for acute upper respiratory tract infection.

The COI's preliminary assessment was that accumulated fatigue, insufficient rest, CFC Lee's less-than-optimal state of health and potential use of medication could have led to the heatstroke.

"However, the COI's preliminary assessment was that the likely reasons for CFC Lee succumbing to the heatstroke were inadequate on-site casualty management and delayed evacuation to the medical centre," said the minister.

Dr Ng said relevant persons involved in CFC Lee's case have been removed from command and could face criminal charge or military prosecution. However, no evidence of foul play or medical negligence has been found, he said.

The SAF has since been, or will be, putting in place a range of measures to reduce the risks of heat injuries, he said. Besides cooling and evacuation measures, they include more opportunities for make-up training and emphasising "open reporting", which means soldiers can call a hotline to report unauthorised activities.

"The army will encourage our soldiers not to push themselves beyond safety limits," he said.

Describing CFC Lee as an exemplary soldier who served with commitment and was well-respected by his peers for his positive attitude, Dr Ng said the loss of such a good soldier is "deeply grievous to us".

"It will take collective effort to achieve zero training fatalities. Each serviceman must take care of himself or sound the alert when his buddy is not well, or if regulations are not complied with during training," he said. "Commanders must be alert and pull out early those who are not coping and use another occasion to train."













Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen details events leading up to NSF's death
Punishment and training that breached rules may have contributed to NSF's heatstroke
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2018

The night before an 8km fast march, Corporal First Class (CFC) Dave Lee Han Xuan and his platoon mates were punished for about 30 minutes as two soldiers had used their mobile phones after lights out, despite repeated warnings.

The punishment for perceived lack of teamwork involved the entire platoon of soldiers, garbed in their No. 4 uniforms and with assault bags, being made to do physical exercises such as bear crawls, sprints, leopard crawls, push-ups and crunches.

They returned to their bunks around 10.30pm, and were told to sleep by 10.45pm.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, in giving a detailed account of events preceding CFC Lee's death from heatstroke, said the soldiers had six hours and 15 minutes of sleep, less than the mandated seven hours of uninterrupted rest.

The punishment goes against an army directive, according to preliminary findings of a Committee of Inquiry (COI) on the death of the full-time national serviceman (NSF) in April, Dr Ng told Parliament yesterday.



The day before he collapsed, CFC Lee did an interval training run at a faster pace than he was required to, with a shorter rest time between laps. This was a breach of training safety regulations.

Dr Ng said the reason given for these deviations was that the commanders wanted to enhance fitness and foster greater cohesion by keeping the platoon intact, so during the training run, the soldiers ran at the same pace, not in groups.

These factors could have contributed to the heatstroke suffered by the 19-year-old from the 1st Battalion Singapore Guards after the fast march in Bedok Camp on April 18, which he completed.

He died on April 30, two weeks after he was admitted to Changi General Hospital.

The COI found that more than two weeks before the fast march, CFC Lee had been taking medication following a visit to Jurong Polyclinic on March 31 for an acute upper respiratory tract infection, said Dr Ng.

Aside from the physical exercises, the soldiers also had water poured over them, and the punishment session ended with the troopers reciting the Guards' creed a few times in a high-kneel position.

For the 8km fast march, the COI found it was done in line with SAF regulations, except for the lack of seven hours of uninterrupted rest.

Before the march, CFC Lee had taken his temperature, which was normal at 36.3 deg C.

He also did his warm-up exercises and his buddy observed that he seemed to be his usual self.

After he completed the first 6km, he had a mandated 20-minute rest. As he was moving off for the last 2km, he told his commanders he had cramps in his calf muscles. They advised him to stretch, which he did, and he was encouraged to complete the march.

He was the last person to complete the march in around 100 minutes, including the break.

As he was walking to the support company line, he seemed to be disoriented and was immediately attended to by the commanders and medics. They thought he was suffering from physical exhaustion. His pulse was assessed to be normal and his skin felt cold to the touch.

He was given first aid and water, his equipment was removed and his uniform unbuttoned, and ice packs were placed at his vital points. Water was also poured on him. When he did not improve, CFC Lee was evacuated to the medical centre.



The COI noted that the cooling measures taken were inadequate, including the failure to use on-site intravenous therapy, the improper placement of ice packs and the improper use of a ground sheet.

It also noted that there was a significant gap between the onset of symptoms and his arrival at the centre.

The delay was because the people attending to him mistook his symptoms as due to physical exhaustion, said Dr Ng. "Though trained, they had never encountered any previous case of heat injury themselves."

Dr Ng also said there were several suggestions for CFC Lee to be evacuated, but these calls were either not heard or not heeded.

The COI believed the significant delay could have escalated the heat injury to a heatstroke. Full body cooling should have been given quickly and within 30 minutes of the symptoms showing, it added.

CFC Lee was semi-conscious when he arrived at the Bedok Camp Medical Centre, with a temperature of 42.7 deg C. Two bags of fast intravenous (IV) drip were administered, and he was also placed in the body cooling unit for two cycles.

When he did not respond, he was sent to Changi General Hospital.

Dr Ng told the House that CFC Lee was an exemplary soldier who served with commitment and was well-respected by his peers for his positive attitude.

"The loss of such a good soldier like CFC Lee is deeply grievous to us," he said, before expressing the House's deep condolences to the family of the late CFC Lee.





Mother of CFC Dave Lee hopes for deterrent punishment
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2018

The mother of Corporal First Class (CFC) Dave Lee Han Xuan, who died in April after suffering a heat injury, said she hopes punishment for personnel responsible would be significant enough to deter future violations of army rules.

"Punishment should be significant enough to make sure future commanders will not dare to repeat 'tekan' sessions," she told The Straits Times last night, referring to traditional, outdated punishment.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told Parliament yesterday breaches and lapses were found to have occurred in the April 18 incident which led to the death of CFC Lee, 19.

These include how his platoon was given unauthorised physical punishment such as leopard crawls and push-ups for about 30 minutes the night before the fast march where he had heat injury, which compromised their required minimum seven hours of rest.



Dr Ng said the preliminary findings by the Committee of Inquiry cited the insufficient rest as a possible factor contributing to CFC Lee's heat stroke, while the inadequate on-site casualty management and delayed evacuation were likely reasons for him succumbing to the injury.

Madam Jasmine Yeo told The Straits Times last night that she was not surprised by revelations of the unauthorised punishment as she had revealed this previously.

She said CFC Lee's last words to her were that he and his platoon had received informal punishment.

At his funeral in May, Madam Yeo had called for outdated traditional "tekan", or punishment sessions, to be put to an immediate stop.



Madam Yeo, who declined to give her age, said she could not understand how evacuation could have been delayed.

She said many thought she was very strong, judging from the media interview that she, her husband, property agent Dennis Lee, and daughter Joey Lee, 23, had given at CFC Lee's wake on May 2.

"I am not," she said. "It has been hell for my entire family as Dave was very close to us."

"I just want to let all officers involved know that my son means the world to me. My family portraits will never be complete.

"They can never imagine the pain a mother has from losing a son whom she had cared for and nurtured since he was born."




Early evacuation the default under new safety rules
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2018

All commanders and medics across the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will evacuate every trainee who cannot respond to simple questions on time, place and identity, in a new training safety regulation (TSR) that takes effect immediately.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen cited the move in Parliament yesterday as part of several measures that the armed forces is adopting to tackle heat injury cases, following the death of Corporal First Class (CFC) Dave Lee Han Xuan on April 30.

"The intent is obvious, and this takes the guesswork out of the assessment and what the reason is, as this case showed, and imposes early evacuation as the default, as a strict TSR to be followed," he said.

To help commanders and soldiers better recognise signs and symptoms of heat injuries, lesson plans on safety will be improved and mandatory questions on heat injury prevention and management will be included in the annual TSR test, added the minister.



More opportunities for make-up training will also be provided so that soldiers will not push themselves beyond safety limits.

"If a soldier feels that he is unwell during any training activity, or if the buddy notices it, soldiers will be reminded to err on the side of caution, to stop and make up training another day," said Dr Ng.

At a media briefing at the Ministry of Defence (Mindef), Brigadier-General Kenneth Liow, commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command (Tradoc), said it is clear that "there is always another day to train, so soldiers would not push themselves unnecessarily even when they are not in the best of health".

Dr Ng said the SAF will strengthen open reporting, where servicemen will be encouraged to report unauthorised activities through a hotline.

Colonel Tong Yi Chuen, head of the Army Safety Inspectorate, said: "When they report any safety violations, we will tell them that the reports will be held in strict confidence. At the same time, we will also advise the soldiers to report up the chain of command." He added that every report will be investigated.

An external review panel on SAF safety recommended that medics should be able to exercise their professional authority on medical issues in dealing with commanders who are much more senior than them.

A report by another external review panel on heat injury management found that the army recorded 25 cases of heat stroke and 137 cases of heat exhaustion from April 2012 to March this year.

Several MPs asked about steps to remove impediments that soldiers may face in voicing their inability to take part in training.

Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok) and Nominated MP Kok Heng Leun cited how CFC Lee and his platoon mates did not speak up about how they did not have the minimum seven hours of rest as a result of an unauthorised punishment session the night before.

Dr Ng said he would have to check details of the COI to see whether the various platoon members were asked why they did not say they did not have seven hours of sleep.

He said it was likely that the soldiers wanted to carry on with their training, and added that it is important to make it second nature for the trainees to speak up for their own protection and that of others.

Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan and Mr Henry Kwek (Nee Soon GRC) asked about the training of commanders to detect warning signs of heat injuries early and giving them the flexibility to pare down training intensity, especially during hot weather.

Dr Ng referred to the new evacuation procedure and said that temperature is taken into account under a system which determines the work-rest cycles for soldiers.








Immersing arms in ice water, special pads to keep troops cool
By Lim Min Zhang, The Straits Times, 7 Aug 2018

From this month, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is expanding the use of an arm immersion cooling system and purpose-built cooling pads across the armed forces.

This comes after recommendations from an external panel looking into the SAF's heat injury practices following the death of Corporal First Class (CFC) Dave Lee Han Xuan in April from heat injury.

The five-member external panel's 15-page report was released yesterday.



Although the report found the SAF's current heat injury measures generally sound and aligned with prevalent industry and foreign military practices, there was room for improvement.

For instance, it suggested the full-scale implementation of a cooling regime known as the Arm Immersion Cooling System.

This is a preventive measure whereby soldiers dip their arms into iced water for between 15 and 30 seconds to help cool their core body temperature.

This is done during rest periods when training, and after training.

In a study done by the SAF and the DSO National Laboratories, the pads cooled subjects at a rate of 0.12 deg C per minute, compared with the 0.03 deg C per minute rate of the ice packs.

Major (Dr) Teo said: "They can also be stuck on to the body, which means they do not drop off as easily, compared with ice packs."

While the cooling pads have been used during overseas training since 2015, they will be rolled out across the SAF in phases from this month.

Medics at the Basic Military Training Centre on Pulau Tekong will be the first to receive the upgrade.

Among other recommendations by the panel were the upgrading of the SAF's Body Cooling Units (BCUs) and fine-tuning work-rest cycles based on the practices of foreign militaries.



Brigadier-General Kenneth Liow, commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command (Tradoc), said yesterday that the army is evaluating every recommendation proposed by the panel.

"However, not every recommendation can be implemented immediately. As highlighted by the panel, some recommendations would require further study."

He said the panel noted in its report that existing BCUs have served the SAF well, and the BCU is still in operation in local hospitals such as the Singapore General Hospital and Changi General Hospital.

SOME RECOMMENDATIONS OF SAFETY AND HEAT-INJURY PANELS

The external review panel on heat injury management suggested the SAF could look into more effective rapid-cooling methods such as cold-water immersion and cooling suits which could eventually replace body-cooling units currently used by the SAF.

The panel noted that the Australian Defence Force has more demanding work-rest guidance for its Special Forces, compared with the more generic guidelines for ground forces. It said the SAF could consider having a less demanding work-rest cycle for first-year soldiers, in view of their higher susceptibility to heat injuries.

The panel suggested adding four more risk factors that may predispose someone to heat injuries: inexperienced soldiers, alcohol intake, use of supplements and salt depletion. The army currently has 16 risk factors, which are largely similar to what foreign militaries have.

The panel also recommended reducing barriers to self-reporting if soldiers feel unwell, as it felt that soldiers might be reluctant to fall out due to peer pressure or fear of failing a course, among other possible reasons. The panel's view, it said, is supported by the army's finding that many heat injury cases arise as a result of overzealous soldiers pushing themselves beyond their limits.

The external review panel on SAF safety said that medics must be able to exercise their professional authority when dealing with medical issues, and this includes being able to communicate effectively with commanders who are much more senior than them.

It said that while it is the soldiers' responsibility to tell their commanders if they are unwell or unable to cope, it is also important for commanders to watch out for such soldiers and pull them out of training before they get hurt.






*******  Board of Inquiry’s Report on the Death of SCDF Full-Time National Serviceman Corporal Kok Yuen Chin on 13 May 2018

SCDF to decommission fire station pump wells following drowning of NSF during ragging incident
It will also boost anti-ragging measures, enhance disciplinary and whistle-blowing frameworks
By Adrian Lim, Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 14 Sep 2018

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will decommission all 19 pump wells located at fire stations, after a full-time national serviceman (NSF) drowned in one during a ragging incident in May.

This builds on an earlier move to install metal gratings over the openings of the wells to prevent unauthorised access.

The SCDF also said it will step up initiatives to institute in officers a "zero-tolerance" stance against ragging, and enhance its disciplinary and whistle-blowing frameworks to give more assurance to those who speak up that they will be protected.

These measures were announced by the SCDF yesterday in response to recommendations submitted by a Board of Inquiry convened to look into the May 13 fatal accident.

The board, which was convened by Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam on May 22, submitted its report to the minister on Aug 28.

Mr Shanmugam, who has accepted the recommendations in full, said: "The recommendations will help the SCDF eradicate unauthorised activities such as ragging. The conduct of the officers involved was unacceptable."

Mr Shanmugam, who is also Law Minister, said those who were assessed to be criminally culpable have been charged, while others will be investigated for departmental disciplinary actions.

On May 13, Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, 22, was celebrating his impending operationally ready date (ORD) with his squad mates at Tuas View Fire Station.

As part of ragging activities, he was pushed into the station's 12m-deep pump well. A pump well is a reservoir of water used by fire station personnel for training and the testing of fire engine pumps.

Cpl Kok did not surface, and the first SCDF serviceman jumped in to try to rescue him eight seconds later. Other servicemen also jumped in to try to locate him.

Cpl Kok was extracted from the pump well about 36 minutes after he fell in. He was pronounced dead at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.



To decommission the wells, the SCDF said they will be filled up with granite chips and covered with concrete slabs.

These works are expected to be completed by December. This will not affect operations as the testing of fire engine water pumps and related training can be conducted at the Civil Defence Academy (CDA) in Jalan Bahar, it added.

Asked about its plans to centralise all testing and training at the CDA, the SCDF said the academy has three pump wells. "All SCDF fire station personnel are rostered to undergo scenario-based training drills at CDA every quarter. The testing of the fire engine water pumps and related training will be scheduled to coincide with these rostered drills," it added.

The Board of Inquiry found that the SCDF had clear anti-ragging policies and measures in place. Servicemen were informed of this through briefing sessions, and during interviews with commanders, for example.

Noting that the incident still took place, the board put forth several recommendations to the SCDF, which included further reviewing its anti-ragging measures and helping servicemen better internalise the anti-ragging policy.

While it had already stepped up its anti-ragging measures following the accident, such as introducing stiffer penalties, the SCDF said yesterday that it will do more.

A code of conduct will be established requiring all officers to internalise the SCDF's zero-tolerance stance against ragging. A set of guidelines has also been introduced for officers who plan to organise informal gatherings, such as to celebrate a serviceman's ORD. Commanders will be trained to know how to identify vulnerable individuals and pre-empt and prevent unacceptable behaviour in the SCDF.

The Board of Inquiry's work is separate from investigations by the Singapore Police Force, which have resulted in five SCDF personnel being charged in court in July. Another eight SCDF officers are also being investigated.


Cpl Kok's aunt, Madam Helen Kok, 55, said the SCDF should have implemented these anti-ragging measures early on, and not waited until a life was lost.

Mr Tan Jin Thong, a former SCDF deputy commissioner who retired in 1999, thinks decommissioning all pump wells at fire stations is "a bit of an overreaction". Mr Tan, 79, said there are fire stations located across the island, and having to send fire engines to the CDA is inefficient.

"This case is not about somebody slipping and falling in. It is about someone being mischievous and pushing another person in. That kind of thing should be stopped - educate and monitor the servicemen, and have more safety protocols," he said.
















NSF who drowned at Tuas View Fire Station was pushed into well by colleague, inquiry finds
Fatal end to celebration that began with cake, plaque presentation
The Straits Times, 14 Sep 2018

Full-time national serviceman Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, 22, was pushed into the pump well at Tuas View Fire Station by a colleague, in the events leading up to his death, a Board of Inquiry has found.

In the first detailed reconstruction of the tragedy that took place on May 13 this year, the board's report highlights how a celebration that started with a cake and plaque presentation ended in Cpl Kok's death.

Cpl Kok, a Singapore permanent resident from Malaysia, was on his last tour of duty before his operationally ready date (ORD) on May 16, the board said in its report released yesterday.


His colleagues at the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) held a celebration for him at the station's watch room to mark his impending ORD, between 8.40pm and 9.04pm on May 13, the report said. He was presented with a cake and a plaque by colleagues on duty that night.

After the celebration, some members of the team carried Cpl Kok, a non-swimmer, according to his family, to the pump well, where he sat on the edge.

At 9.07pm, one of the officers went behind him and pushed him into the well.

Cpl Kok did not resurface. Eight seconds later, the first serviceman jumped into the well in an effort to rescue him. Others also jumped in later, but could not find him.

The servicemen also used a fire engine suction pump to pump water out of the well, and those jumping in then used breathing apparatuses to dive deeper into the well.


Eventually, one of the servicemen located Cpl Kok. The servicemen then worked together to use ropes to pull Cpl Kok out. He was extracted from the pump well at 9.43pm, about 36 minutes after he had fallen in.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate their colleague, but to no avail. He was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, and reached there at 10.13pm. Cpl Kok was pronounced dead at 11.02pm.

An autopsy found the cause of death to be drowning.










Related
Ministerial Statement by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, on National Service Training Deaths for Parliament Sitting -17 May 2018

Death of a Singapore Armed Forces Full-time National Serviceman -30 Apr 2018


Update on Death of a Singapore Armed Forces Full-time National Serviceman -2 May 2018


Oral Reply to Parliamentary Question on the Death of SCDF NSF CPL Kok Yuen Chin by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law -17 May 2018


Update on the Death of Singapore Civil Defence Force Full-Time National Serviceman -16 May 2018

Fact Sheet: External Review Panel on Heat Injury Management -20 Jun 2018


Fact Sheet: Hybrid Uniform for the Singapore Army -20 Jun 2018


Oral Reply by Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, to Parliamentary Question on Ragging in the SAF -10 Jul 2018

Ministerial Statement by Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen, on Findings and Follow-Up Actions on National Service Training Death for Parliament Sitting on 6 August 2018

External Review Panel on SAF Safety - Comments on the Committee of Inquiry's Preliminary Findings on the Death of CFC Dave Lee Han Xuan -6 Aug 2018

Heat Injury Management in the SAF - A Report by the External Review Panel on Heat Injury Management

Key Recommendations of the Board of Inquiry on the Death of SCDF Full-Time National Serviceman Corporal Kok Yuen Chin -13 Sep 2018

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