Safety of servicemen top priority: Defence Minister

SINGAPORE - In parliament today, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said that the safety of servicemen is the top priority for his ministry and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).

He was responding to a question on the safety procedures protecting servicemen in view of the recent string of deaths involving national service (NS) men.

Dr Ng stressed that every incident resulting in an injury or death gets top management priority to make it right, and that his ministry incorporates findings and recommendations from independent investigations by the Police and State Coroner.

He said that if mistakes are discovered to have been made, Mindef will own up to them, and in the process learn from and rectify them for continuous improvement.

Dr Ng also updated Parliament on Mindef's investigation procedures, announcing that an independent Committee of Inquiry (COI) has been formed to look into the deaths of full-time national servicemen Private Amirul Syahmi Kamal and Private Dominique Lee Rui Feng.

Private Amirul was found unconscious in a locked toilet cubicle, and Private Lee died after collapsing during training.

The committee is to determine if the measures which were taken to treat, resuscitate and evacuate the two NS men were adequate and prompt.

The COI, chaired by a senior civil servant from outside Mindef and including a senior doctor from the public sector, will also propose measures to recitify shortcomings, if any are found.

The committee has the power to call any witness and gather any evidence regardless of its admissibility in civil or criminal proceedings in court.

The Police will also separately submit its independent report to the State Coroner. The State Coroner will then ascertain the cause of and circumstances surrounding the deaths of the two men.

yamadak@sph.com.sg

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