THE TEMASEK TIMES

News and views from an unique perspective

Deceased NSF’s mother called for greater accountability from SAF and MINDEF to all Singaporean parents

Posted by temasektimes on September 18, 2012

I am a mother of 2 Singaporean sons. My sons are my world. My elder son was enlisted into the SAF November last year. On 17 April 2012, I received a call from the hospital that my son had been admitted to the A&E. When I arrived at the hospital, I was told that my son had died from respiratory failure. In that instance, my world collapsed.

It is clear to my family and me that my son’s death was preventable. He was asthmatic. The incident that cost him his life was an urban training exercise involving smoke bombs in a confined area.

However, it is not his death I wish to discuss here. The issue I wish to present to you is that of safety regulations in the SAF. I am urging all parents of Singaporean sons to stand with me, to advocate for greater accountability on the part of the SAF for the safety of our sons. We cannot be mere bystanders when our sons are conscripted into NS. We cannot allow for our sons to be at the mercy of the training officers, be it the platoon sergeants or commanders, who are very often, little older and none the wiser than the boys they are tasked to oversee, boys whose lives often depend on the decisions that they make.

I do not wish my tragedy on anyone and I do not want my son’s untimely death to go into the books of MINDEF as just another accident. Parents, I urge you to join me, so that MINDEF may hear our collective voice, and be moved to do more than pay lip service to ensure that our sons come back home alive and well.

Together, let’s call for:

1. More thorough screening of the medical history of NSF pre-enlistment, to ensure accurate fitness classification.

2. More stringent risk assessment of every training exercise.

3. Better equipped medical centres with better trained medical staff at/near every training location.

4. More stringent monitoring of staff who oversee NSF, to weed out abuse of power at all levels.

5. Greater accountability by MINDEF and SAF to all parents.

Parents, let us stand together to protect our sons and keep our families intact.

Let us bring our sons home safe!

FELICIA SEAH

*The above was first posted on a Facebook page set up in memory of Madam Seah’s 21-year-old son, Lee Rui Feng Dominique Sarron who died in April in a military training exercise. 

41 Responses to “Deceased NSF’s mother called for greater accountability from SAF and MINDEF to all Singaporean parents”

  1. david low said

    My condolences Felicia. I am sure SAF/ MINDEF has the medical history of each enlisted to serve NS. The problem may lie in the follow-up of how these records are being monitored and used to ensure those with medical conditions are not subjected to trainings which are detrimental to the health and safety of the soldiers.

    • oldguard said

      They have the record, but the personel handling his recruit training care less about their history. They themself are NS men with rank to show off. They will punish you if you are slow and will come to a conclusion that this recuit is trying to skived. I have seen limping soldier draft into the army, our arm forces desperate now, why not get all PR and new citizen to be enlist as long as they are 18 and above, not forgetting the invited Scholar.
      To Aniko Klass, you are lucky, you comfronted MINDEF, if you have not done so, you son will might suffer under the officer who is no more than 1 or 2 years older than your son.
      I have serve my NS 42 years ago, I have seen those comrades who pass away and their family only rec’d a miserable sum as compensation.

      • Julie Ong said

        Thanks Oldguard.

        National Service is an impediment to the career prospects of our young men as they have to serve at least 2 years in the armed forces.

        Fatalities can to a certain extent be prevented. Young men no more than 1 or 2 years older than the recruits are put as officers or non-commissioned officers in supervision/training of these newcomers. Having a rank some of these NS men themselves bully the new recruits and overstep their authority as officers or NCOs. Something has to give. Indeed it has, resulting in bullying/harassment and in some instances resulting in death.

        The privileged elitists (ministers’ son, etc) are fast tracked to better things in the army and they are the ones held out in high regard and esteem. What a shame! Equal pain and sacrifice for the nation! This, I will loudly proclaim and scream aloud. Singapore is an unequal and unfair society. Never believe the crap of meritocracy. Who judge your abilities or merits? If you are not well connected I do not like your chances. This MUST change. And it can only change if the people DEMAND it.

        Hitherto, we’ve allowed the government to lord over us. However, with the globalised world and the advent of the Internet information is now readily available. We must therefore take advantage of the improvements in dissemination of news and information and fight for more accountability/transparency from the government. The days when Mr LKY can just do as he pleases are well and truly over. Tyranny is dead.

        As regards National Service we must revisit it and make sure that our citizens’ sons are not mistreated. We want our young men to be tough and strong all round, but not to be pushed around or subjected to rigorous training when in poor health or condition (please read the author, Ms Felicia Seah’s article). One dead soldier is one soldier fewer to protect Singapore.

        Do you not understand this simple logic Mindef?

        P.S. If the families of national servicemen who died are paid a ‘miserable sum in compensation’ then this is truly appalling. We have the President and Ministers with millions in their salary packages and yet we treat our citizens’ sons with such callous disregard and contempt.

        Bad and greedy leaders.

      • seah said

        Pr and new citizen are here to Help us Sporean to make money IT very impolite to ask them to do NS.They are here for Bigger thing not do NS.NS is only reserve for sporean.like Taxi Driver Jod .please do not ask them to take over our important jod.or else they will demand to take over my Taxi Driver jod

  2. dog of the dogs said

    FTs are laughing.

  3. Ren said

    This sounds like sunday mass to me…

  4. Singaporean said

    Singapore is a ‘you die your business’ society.

  5. Dan said

    It will get worst.
    Bigger population needs a bigger army
    Our local girls will be next in line to help in TOTAL DEFENSE

  6. hihihi said

    Can be easily replaced by another ftrash. No problem.

  7. Aniko Klass said

    Felicia, sorry for your loss but I do think that Mindef does take more than enough measures to ensure the safety of the men. My son too is asthmatic with very bad skin allergies. I’m comforted that MINDEF took the time and trouble to send him through the various tests before determining whether he should be enlisted or not. I think it is also very important for the boys/men to declare accurately their medical background if not there will be no way, MINDEF will know till its too late. You should also take the precaution and inform your other son that when he does serve NS, if he’s unwell, tell the officers immediately and don’t try to complete the exercise.

    • Singaporean said

      I BEG TO DIFFER. THEY DONT CARE AT ALL.HONESTLY SPEAKING, I HAVE SO MANY FRIENDS IN CAMP RIGHT NOW, AND I KNOW WHAT THEY’RE GOING THROUGH. one of my friend actually has ankle ligament tear and they forced him to go back to camp even though the doctor has given him 2 days MC. i repeat, they FORCED HIM , if not he’ll be in DB. do you think that’s fair? well, i guess your son is just lucky,

    • army another four lettered word said

      you know, there will always be the “pretend be to so damn clever and think they got power(domination), type of people” , in the army the likelyhood is even greater. My conversations with young NSFs, they kena tekan like bloody fools, NSFs tell me. These young kids dont tell you the details because they malu to tell you. But body language tells you other wise.
      I think the problem is with these people, they think they can dominate you. They take advantage of you. They think they are like GOD, more like DOGS to me. The language they use you dont believe sometimes what I hear. Is this what army is about ? Yeah this is but a few bad APPLES, but you need to get riddance of these bad APPLES from the TOP DOWN NOW.

  8. Virgorian said

    Madam Seah , can I have ur personal email address…I got more worst history n I would like to share with u ..and if possible I would line the whole world knows about the worst incident at ROC 14 years ago n hope the fucking officer is still in his service !

  9. Daniel said

    I think the problem is becuz we dont hv enough fully fit boys for combat vocations.

  10. Jaded said

    “We cannot allow for our sons to be at the mercy of the training officers, be it the platoon sergeants or commanders, who are very often, little older and none the wiser than the boys they are tasked to oversee, boys whose lives often depend on the decisions that they make.”

    very true, i myself was kenah tekan jialat jialat by some of these immature young boys who do not know how to handle the power and authority that came with their ranks.

  11. Why the fuck did the SAF sent an asthmatic person to do training with smoke bombs?

  12. hotu said

    Singapore had the lowest birth rate in the world. Every son is priceless to parent. It is high times to abolish NS. For those insist NS is good, please volunteer your sons, don’t involve others people son. i would suggest we employ professional armies. it is same as employing Gurkhas, a tried way for many years. Everybodies in Singapore would be happy to share the cost. If continued with NS. Many peoples with son would migrated. Even those under reservists are making their way to foreign land. i had lost many friends and relatives. Many of our female friends and sisters also can’t find male partners to married with. LKY maybe right we may fold up if there is no FT.

  13. Oriley said

    deepest condolences to Madam Seah and family.

  14. I totally agree – death in training is definitely unacceptable. Greater accountability by MINDEF and SAF to all parents must be implemented ASAP. Its also time to look into the miserable payout to affected families…..LIFE IS CHEAP IN SAF.

  15. shoot said

    Get me back to NS. I am jobless now. Get me my SAR. I will know WHO TO SHOOT NOW.

  16. Ron said

    If a history of asthma can be fatal during military training, why are such persons not assigned to less hazardous NS such as desk jobs or even to patrol the MRT stations? Surely the % of asthma servicemen is very low. Maybe there can be a relook by MINDEF?

    • There is obviously a conspiracy by SAF to exterminate the weak and compromised.
      Those who are imperfect in many ways (asthma, allergies, IBS, overactive bladder, etc.) are ’being killed’ because of what they have.

  17. lool said

    More jobs for my foreign kinds. Good. All of these lazy weaklings of Singaporeans should die off.

  18. Sin said

    If I m not wrong, 14 years ago in ROC, a land rover with 3 soldiers was moving up a hill when it slides off track and went downhill. All 3 personnel died. The driver was inexperience and unfamiliar with the route….

  19. Judy said

    If your son is a White Horse, rest assured that more safety precautions would likely be taken.

  20. True BLUE Sinkie said

    If your son is an officer, the response by MINDEF will be different. If he is an Other Rank, he is dispensible. He is only one of the thousands who enlist ever year.

  21. Nobody said

    Here is 1 story that i like to share.

    A NS man returning to camp for his medical PES review as he had high blood pressure and undergoing medication (Atenolol 50mg per day).Somemore, got past record of heat stroke and heart issues.

    NS man in the room with MO

    NS man: Hi Sir, i am submitting my memo from my doc stating that i am having high blood pressure and under going medication.

    MO: Oh, ok (Looking through the record then taking his blood pressure)
    After a while

    MO: Looks like your blood pressure is normal after your medication.

    NS man: But when i was running half way through , i was feeling dizzy and fainted almost every time.

    MO: oh, that’s because your medication is letting you faint all the time but high blood pressure is not a serious case since your blood pressure is normal.

    NS man:(in his mind thinking, so you want me to faint every time i go RT)

    Unbelievable speechless

  22. June from Madagascar said

    One day my sons are going to grow up. I’m not just worried of the horror accidents, I’m also worried about all the horror stories of how boys are being brought to visit prostitutes. Something must be done to protect our children.

  23. True BLUE Sinkie said

    It is the policy of the sAF for asthmatic soldiers to fall out or die during peace time. Unfit soldiers will be a liability in times of war and a danger to their fellow soldiers on the front line.

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