SINGAPORE: The theft of ammunition is "a very serious offence", said the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) on Friday (Aug 23) in response to the case of a former Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) regular who kept and concealed 50 blank rounds following an exercise in 2017.
Master Sergeant Chia Shu Sheng had been sentenced by a military court to two weeks of detention, and an appeal to extend the detention was dismissed on Thursday.
"The Ministry of Defence and the Singapore Armed Forces regard the theft of ammunition as a very serious offence," said MINDEF in a statement.
"All servicemen are informed and constantly reminded that the unauthorised removal, possession or retention of any weapons, ammunition or ammunition-related items will result in formal disciplinary proceedings."
Chia, the sergeant major of his company in the 40th Battalion Singapore Armoured Regiment, had kept the blank general purpose machine gun (GPMG) rounds - of which 49 were unexpended - hidden in Keat Hong Camp, despite knowing they were supposed to be returned to the SAF.
He had also kept an expended plastic blank round which was handed to him by an unnamed soldier.
Chia's previous lawyer said that the decision to keep the rounds was made out a desire to protect his men from being punished for failing to declare them.
He had planned to dispose of the 49 unexpended rounds during the next training exercise involving the use of the GPMG, properly disposing of the single expended blank round as well, the lawyer added.
Chia completed his detention sentence in January and was discharged from the SAF after the appeal.
In response to CNA's queries on his discharge from the Army and SAF's policy towards misappropriation of ammunition, MINDEF on Friday said: "Where there is misappropriation of ammunition, whether live or blank, the Military Court of Appeal has set a benchmark sentence of detention in the SAF Detention Barracks.
"There is a need for a strong deterrent sentence against such offences which undermine the SAF’s strict ammunition retention and storage system and policies."