Committee of Inquiry says training safety regulations breached in deaths of two full-time National Servicemen

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen says two training deaths which happened in the Singapore Armed Forces this year could have been avoided if safety instructions had been followed.

In a Ministerial Statement in Parliament today, Dr Ng released the findings of the Committees of Inquiry set up to look into the deaths of full-time National Servicemen, Private Dominique Sarron Lee on 17th of April, and Third Sergeant Tan Mou Sheng on 11th of May.

In Private Lee's case, the 21 year old died after he experienced breathing difficulties and collapsed during an exercise in which smoke grenades were used. 

The COI found the number of smoke grenades used for the layout in this particular exercise - six instead of two - had breached training safety regulations.

As for Third Sergeant Tan, the 20 year old died after the army jeep he was in overturned after the driver lost control of the vehicle.

Among the safety breaches discovered, the COI found that the driver of the jeep was not licensed to drive.

Dr Ng said while the SAF has a robust training safety system in place, these incidents show more needs to be done - and the SAF is determined to put things right and correct any inadequacies. 

And he announced that three key systemic changes will be made to strengthen training safety across the whole SAF.

As for the officers and commanders involved in the breaches identified by the two COIs, the Chief Military Prosecutor will determine if they should be subject to a General Court Martial.

Police investigations are also ongoing to determine whether to prosecute the personnel involved in a Civil Court.

Expressing Mindef and the SAF's deepest condolences to the families of Private Lee and Third Sergeant Tan, Dr Ng said every Singaporean son is precious, and any injury or death in the SAF is one too many.

The Defence Minister said safety regulations must be observed by all.

And any commander who ignores safety regulations, whether wilfully or through negligence, puts his soldiers at risk and is not fit for command.

Dr Ng pledged that the SAF will learn from the incidents, correct any inadequacies and punish those who disregard safety regulations.