Death of NSF Dave Lee: SAF commanders have plugged gaps, no interference with ongoing probes, says Ng Eng Hen

Corporal First Class Dave Lee died on April 30, 2018, after being hospitalised for heat injury.
Corporal First Class Dave Lee died on April 30, 2018, after being hospitalised for heat injury.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Singapore Armed Forces commanders have plugged the gaps and reduced as much as possible weaknesses that have been identified following the death of Corporal First Class Dave Lee from heat injury, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

Dr Ng added that there would be no interference from the Ministry of Defence and SAF over four concurrent investigations into CFC Lee's death in April and would live with "whatever they conclude with".

He said on Friday (June 29): "Our commanders take it very seriously upon themselves. If they need instructions from me then they shouldn't be commanders. They know that this is top priority and they dealt with it swiftly."

Dr Ng was responding to a question on the interim measures the SAF had taken following the incident, during an interview at Mindef ahead of SAF Day on July 1.

CFC Lee, 19, died on April 30 after being hospitalised for heat injury. He had completed an 8km fast march in Bedok Camp on April 18.

Citing police investigations, the coroner's inquiry, a Committee of Inquiry looking into the incident and an external panel's inquiry into the SAF's heat injury management, Dr Ng said Mindef will not interfere with such processes.

"As much as I want them to be hurried as well, they are all outside the SAF and we have to be patient. But we want a full discovery of facts so that they come to their independent conclusions. I don't think we want to prejudge and we shouldn't."

 
 
 

He added: "There will certainly be no interference from Mindef and SAF. And we will live with whatever they conclude with."

Chief of Defence Force Melvyn Ong said on June 19 that an external review panel formed to look into the heat injury management practices of the SAF after the incident found two areas of improvement.

These are in the SAF's prevention and response to heat injuries.

He said then that the panel's recommendations will be made public when they are ready in a few months.

Dr Ng said: "I think Singaporeans will understand that that's the best system, open system, transparent system - (to have) independent processes when something (has) happened."