On 3 November 2018 (Saturday) morning, tragedy struck as Singapore lost yet another Singaporean son due to an NS-related incident.
Pte Liu Kai, a transport operator (i.e. driver) from the SAF’s Transport Hub West, was pronounced dead at about 10:35 a.m.
One accident is one too many, and considering that this is the third NSF death this year, it is indeed way too many.
Here are ten facts about this unfortunate event that should have never happened.
Pte Liu was operating a Land Rover, a small vehicle used to transport just a few troops, during a field training exercise. A Bionix, an armoured vehicle, reversed into the Land Rover at about 10:10 a.m.
Pte Liu lost conscious immediately and was attended by a medic. The SCDF arrived at 10:30 a.m., but Pte Liu succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead by medical officers at 10:35 a.m.
What’s a Land Rover and What’s a Bionix?
A Land Rover is a rather old vehicle that’s progressively being phrased out, though it’s not certain whether they would be entirely phrased out or not. It’s now quite rare to see them in outfield exercises.
A Bionix is an armoured vehicle that most civilians might not have come across, as it’s meant to be operated in the field.
Despite its size, armoured vehicles can move relatively fast, and I’ve seen it first hand during trainings. In Wikipedia, it states that it can go up to 70 km/h.
It’s the Second Bionix Fatal Accident in 14 months
Last year on 15 September, 3SG Gavin Chan died after he tried to guide a Bionix out of a difficult terrain in Australia.
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Investigations showed that there were no defects in the Bionix and that it was an unfortunate accident. It has been classified as training related and compensation has been offered to the family, and a military funeral was conducted for the late NSF.
All SAF Training Halted & Independent Committee of Inquiry (COI) to be Convened
Upon the accident, the army declared an army-wide safety time-out on training to ensure “all appropriate safety measures” are in place. In other words, whoever is in outfield would be recalled back, and everyone would stop training for a while. It’s unknown when this would end.
Police investigations are ongoing and as per any fatal training-related incident, an independent Committee of Inquiry (COI) would be convened to find out what exactly happened.
Pte Liu would also be promoted to the rank of Corporal First Class (CFC), the highest rank for a man.
Pte Liu is a PR Looking to be A Citizen
Pte Liu has been living and studying in Singapore for more than 10 years, and he and his family were applying to become Singapore citizens.
And Pte Liu had really wanted to be a Singaporean and was proud to be serving the nation.
Unfortunate Events in the Family in 2018
According to Shin Min Daily News, this is the third tragedy to strike the Liu family this year.
Pte Liu’s mother was diagnosed with cancer in April and his grandmother passed away in May 2018.
Family members knew about Pte Liu’s passing from Facebook
The family was allegedly told to rush to the hospital on that unfortunate day at about 11:00 a.m. without any information.
They then found out about his passing on Facebook instead.
Pte Liu Kai, a man who deserves respect
Pte Liu Kai enlisted in April this year, so he was only six months into his service.
According to reports, the 22-year-old wasn’t just proud to serve his country: he was a kind-hearted guy as well, as he had wanted to apply leave just to do charity work.
A student from Nanyang JC, he had already secured a place in SMU and aspired to be an engineer after graduating from university.
SAF Safety Regulation
Now, this is more of a personal experience in the SAF, but it should be relevant to most.
Anyone who’s been in the SAF would know that the system itself is very focused on safety: it’s always “Mission First, Safety Always”.
Before, during and after every training, safety regulations and SOPs are usually put as the priority. Talks about safety are so often, you’ll hear nothing but the word “safety” in every training session.
During my enlistment, there were seven SAF Core Values, and in recent years, they’ve even included “Safety” as the eighth core value.
In other words, for anyone who’s not in the SAF, this’s a fact for you: SAF does take safety very seriously.
However, whether the commanders or men follow the SOP is another question altogether.
Over the last 20 years, the SAF saw an average of one NS training-related death every year. However, between 2013 and 2016, there was no training-related death.
In 2018, two other NSFs have passed on: CFC Dave Lee and CPL Kok from SCDF.
The most recent training-related case is CFC Dave Lee’s case, when he died after spending more than a week in the ICU from heat injury in April this year.
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