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Death of NSF Dave Lee: SAF says it regrets that commanders had breached regulations and failed in their duties

Death of NSF Dave Lee: SAF says it regrets that commanders had breached regulations and failed in their duties

Pallbearers carry the flag-draped coffin of NSF Dave Lee at the Mandai Crematorium on May 5, 2018. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan)

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) regrets that the commanders involved in an incident that led to full-time national serviceman Dave Lee's death had breached regulations and thus failed in their duties, said the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) on Thursday (Jan 28).

"The SAF regrets that commanders in this incident did not perform their duties to ensure the well-being of soldiers under their care ... Commanders who breached training and discipline regulations in this incident failed in their duties and have been dealt with accordingly," said MINDEF in a Facebook post. 

MINDEF's comments came a day after a coroner ruled that several lapses, including a lack of rest time and a delay in evacuation, led to Corporal First Class (CFC) Lee's demise.

READ: NSF Dave Lee's death by heat stroke truly a sad loss to his family and to the nation: Coroner

CFC Lee, 19, died of heat stroke in April 2018 after an 8km mandatory fast march during his training in the 1st Guards Battalion.

Following the incident, the supervising officer of the fast march, Captain (CPT) Tan Baoshu, was charged in the State Courts with causing CFC Lee's death by a rash act not amounting to culpable homicide.

CPT Tan was granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal on Jan 8 last year after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, MINDEF said. He died on Feb 13, aged 31.

Six other servicemen were fined between S$1,800 and S$4,500 by a military court, with three having their rank of Third Sergeant demoted to Corporal.

MINDEF said on Thursday that the six servicemen are "not fit for" positions of command and have been removed from them. 

"Safety of our soldiers is a core value and should never be compromised during training," it said.

READ: Officer rejected suggestions to evacuate NSF Dave Lee, who died of heat stroke: Coroner's court

Since the incident, MINDEF said the SAF has improved its heat injury management and prevention protocols, including simplifying procedures for immediate evacuation and putting an emphasis on open reporting.

"The SAF will continually strive to improve our safety systems to achieve zero training fatalities even as we train our soldiers to defend Singapore against all threats," MINDEF said.

The ministry said CFC Lee was an "exemplary soldier who served with commitment" and described his death as a "sad loss to his family and to the SAF".

"We express our deep condolences to the late CFC Lee’s family," it added.

Source: CNA/hz(hs)

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