NS is full of ghost stories, including no small amount of dead soldiers as lead characters. It’s no wonder, given the number of mysterious deaths that has happened in army camps and Tekong alike so it isn’t really unreasonable for a recruit to feel terribly insecure about their fate in NS.
On 13 September 1983, news of a dead soldier appeared on The Straits Times. The place was Tekong, and it happened after a 16km route march.
No one realised that a recruit was missing, even though headcounts were conducted several times along the route march. In fact, Pte Tham Wai Keong had been absent even before the first headcount.
He was found dead from a stomach rupture about 5km away from the camp. The march started at 4pm.
According to his platoon mate, Tham appeared to be very tired early on in the march. He pushed Tham up a long slope and encouraged him before moving on the catch up with the rest of the platoon.
Little did he know, that was the last time anyone would see him alive again. After two headcounts which failed to account for his absence, the platoon made it back to camp at 8:10pm.
Tham was discovered to be missing at 9:30pm and a search was conducted along the route of the route march. At 5:15pm the next day, a soldier stumbled upon his body in the bushes about 20m away from the tracks.
His equipment was in place and he had his rifle clutched in between his legs. His full pack and uncapped water bottle were found nearby and there was no sign of a struggle. When his body was brought back to camp, the autopsy ruled that he died from a rupture.
Until today, it is not clear what caused the stomach rupture and how an error in the headcount can be made on two occasions to fail to account for Tham.