No SAF serviceman died in past four years during training and operations, thanks to review group

No serviceman has died in the past four years, thanks to external review group

No Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) serviceman has died in training- and operations-related incidents in the past four years, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday as he highlighted the impact of an external safety-review panel which was set up in 2013.

The panel was set up in response to a spate of training accidents in 2012. These included the deaths of a 21-year-old full-time national serviceman (NSF) from an allergic reaction to fumes from smoke grenades, and a 20-year- old NSF who was killed when his jeep overturned.

The 10 panellists who trudged through training grounds as part of the review were led by Singapore Press Holdings chief executive Alan Chan and included Workplace Safety and Health Council chairman Heng Chiang Gnee and the Manpower Ministry's Commissioner for Workplace Safety and Health, Mr Ho Siong Hin.

They made a series of visits to SAF units such as the Basic Military Training Centre, Officer Cadet School and Specialist Cadet School to assess safety practices and recommend improvements.

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Speaking at an appreciation dinner at Marina Mandarin Hotel for volunteers who have contributed to national defence, Dr Ng said: "The contributions of this panel have had the impact of saving lives. In the last four years, there have been zero training- and operations-related fatalities... Safe training raises morale and encourages soldiers to train even harder."

In all, 321 citizen volunteers were recognised yesterday. Dr Ng also presented certificates of appointment and re-appointment to 81 volunteers at the event.

He added in the speech that there are more than 500 serving in the SAF Volunteer Corps (SAFVC) today, which is double that of the first intake of 226 volunteers in 2015.

HUGE IMPACT

The contributions of this panel have had the impact of saving lives. In the last four years, there have been zero trainingand operationsrelated fatalities... Safe training raises morale and encourages soldiers to train even harder.

DEFENCE MINISTER NG ENG HEN, on the external safety-review panel set up in 2013 in response to a spate of training accidents in 2012.

It was the SAF's positive experience with its volunteers that gave it the confidence to start the more formal and structured SAFVC, he said. "We started the SAFVC as... an experiment. Up till today, we have over 500 permanent residents and citizens who are part of this volunteer corps, who undergo basic training and spend their time playing a part in national defence."

The volunteers who were at the dinner included film director Jack Neo, Judge of Appeal Chao Hick Tin, Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim from the Workers' Party, and Ms Claire Chiang, the co-founder of Banyan Tree and Resorts.

Dr Kenneth Mak, who is the deputy director of medical services at the Health Ministry's health services group, has been a volunteer since 2011. In that time, he has served on the Emergency Medicine Specialist Advisory Board, and this year received a certificate of appointment to serve on the SAF Medical Advisory Board.

He said: "If the role that I'm asked to take up involves something positive that can benefit others, that I can give to the organisation, then that actually drives me and gives me that sense of fulfilment."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2017, with the headline 'Panel helps SAF keep operations, training safe'. Print Edition | Subscribe