The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is setting up an Inspector-General's Office (IGO) that will report directly to the Chief of Defence Force and have full authority to scrutinise and enforce safety processes and practices at all levels. The formation of the new office is among measures undertaken by the SAF in the wake of actor Aloysius Pang's death last month after the operationally ready national serviceman was hurt in a military exercise. Other moves include increasing the number of safety inspection teams and full-time safety officers to perform checks and audits on unit-level safety systems in the army, which will progressively lift a safety timeout.
What is significant about the IGO is that while the army, navy and air force have their own safety inspectorates, it is understood that the IGO will perform an additional level of audits and checks, as well as promote safety education, beyond what the inspectorates do now in each service. It is important that the additional oversight be substantial, otherwise the IGO would be merely duplicating the work of the existing bodies charged with ensuring training safety. Like any nascent organisation, the IGO would have to show its relevance by contributing institutionally to the creation of a higher-order safety culture across the SAF. Although fatalities mar the safety record, the bar the SAF has set is high. The IGO would have to show that it could be higher.