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Don't let this happen again: Father

The New Paper | Ronald Loh | Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Mr Lai Kah Fong, father of polytechnic student Lai Qing Xiang, who died after a cheerleading move gone wrong.

He had always encouraged his son to persevere at the sport, even when Mr Lai Qing Xiang returned home after cheerleading practice with bruises on his arms.

So when Mr Patrick Lai found out that there were lapses in safety measures during his son's cheerleading practice, he was shocked.

He was speaking to reporters outside the courtroom after the Coroner's Inquiry yesterday.

He said that the coach, Mr Andrew Ong, had not handled the training sessions properly.

During the inquiry, Mr Ong said that he has been in the sport for seven years.

When asked about his coaching licence, he said he had gone through a two-day test before he got the Class 1 coaching certification from the Federation of Cheerleading (Singapore), which issues it on behalf of the International Federation of Cheerleading.

Mr Lai asked: "Where were the risk assessments and safety procedures? There was also no proper supervision during the training."

He also took issue with Mr Ong instructing that his injured son to be moved.

He said, referring to Mr Ong: "You reported to the Singapore Civil Defence Force that he had a head injury. Then why did you still move him without proper support?"

Like the State Coroner, Mr Lai questioned the lack of medical staff on standby at the time of the accident.

"Trainings are when you make mistakes and that is the most dangerous phase," he said.

He added that there was no first-aid facility available in Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

The father also questioned why there was no pre-selection trials and examinations.

"You must be able to meet the criteria and be fit to carry out such acrobatic stunts," he said.

"But we can't turn back the clock. We just hope that after this incident, such an accident will not happen to other students," he added.

A Ngee Ann Polytechnic spokesman said: "Qing Xiang was a well-liked student and we are deeply saddened by the incident. We take a very serious view of the matter and will study the State Coroner's findings."

The spokesman added that all cheerleading activities will continue to be suspended.

rloh@sph.com.sg

This article was published on April 16 in The New Paper.

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