Have memorial to remember soldiers who die in service

Mr Aloysius Pang's personal sacrifice, like those before him, has undoubtedly touched the hearts of many Singaporeans.
Mr Aloysius Pang's personal sacrifice, like those before him, has undoubtedly touched the hearts of many Singaporeans. PHOTO: ALOYSIUS PANG/ INSTAGRAM

On Wednesday night, another Singaporean son lost his life while serving his country (Actor injured in SAF exercise in New Zealand dies; Jan 24).

His personal sacrifice, like those before him, has undoubtedly touched the hearts of many Singaporeans.

No amount of words and gestures can take away the pain his loved ones must be feeling.

Military service, by its very nature, involves danger and risk. I don't think we can have a strong and credible military if we take out the realism of military training and exercises.

However, operationally ready and full-time national servicemen are not volunteer professional soldiers.

They are normal citizens called upon by their nation to perform military service in order to protect the country and its people.

Thus, no expense should be spared to ensure that they are kept safe.

The Minister for Defence and commanders in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) must put safety as top priority in not just words but also credible and effective actions.

As we celebrate the nation's achievements, peace and prosperity, we must not forget the sacrifices that were made to get us to where we are today.

Despite all the outpouring of grief and the best efforts of the SAF, we know that Mr Aloysius Pang will not be the last person to make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of national defence.

After more than 50 years of national service, how many of our national service soldiers have lost their lives?

 
 
 

Do we still remember their names, their life stories and their unfulfilled dreams?

As we celebrate the nation's achievements, peace and prosperity, we must not forget the sacrifices that were made to get us to where we are today.

It is time for Singapore to build a memorial to recognise the national servicemen who lost their lives during service.

Their names must be permanently etched on a memorial and on our minds.

As long as Singapore is a sovereign country and the memorial stands, the names of all the men who made the ultimate sacrifice should never be forgotten.

Tew Woon Chong

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2019, with the headline 'Have memorial to remember soldiers who die in service'. Print Edition | Subscribe