Non-civil service committee of inquiry, whistle-blowing channels needed

The deaths of two NSF personnel serve as a wake-up call for the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Home Affairs in that, perhaps, the old standard operating procedures need to be reviewed (Civil defence NSF drowns after celebration gone wrong, May 15; and NSF dies after being warded for heatstroke, May 1).

Some other things that should be reconsidered are the authority given to superiors and trainers and whether stricter disciplinary action should be taken against superiors who break the rules and do not follow established protocols.

While we agree that most senior officers and their regulars abide by the rules, we must not assume that all officers are professionals and aware of these protocols.

There have been several reported, and possibly many unreported, incidents of foul play and abuse of power in national service that setting up of independent whistle-blowing committees chaired by non-public servants should be considered. This is to ensure that investigations will be fair and recommendations or changes made to training will be relevant, practical and safe, while staying true to NS training.

It is time for Mindef and MHA to regain professionalism, confidence and trust from the public and those awaiting enlistment.

We all know that abolishing NS or downgrading the standard of NS training is not the way to go, but reviewing NS training processes is critical and essential to minimise such incidents.

Delane Lim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2018, with the headline 'Non-civil service committee of inquiry, whistle-blowing channels needed'. Print Edition | Subscribe