State Court-nominated judge to chair COI probing Pang’s death
Ng Eng Hen to deliver ministerial statement on NS deaths on Feb 11
A Committee of Inquiry (COI), chaired for the first time by a State Court-nominated judge, was convened on Jan 25 to look into the circumstances leading to the death of actor Aloysius Pang while he was on reservist duty, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said yesterday.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen will also deliver a ministerial statement addressing recent national service training deaths when Parliament next sits on Feb 11.
Since last June, Mindef has included serving or former judges as people eligible to chair a COI, in addition to senior civil servants.
While the statement did not reveal names, the ministry said the other members of the independent COI are a consultant medical specialist, a member of the External Review Panel on Singapore Armed Forces Safety (ERPSS), a member of the Workplace Safety and Health Council and a senior-ranked national serviceman.
None of the members work within Mindef or are SAF regulars, the ministry added.
Corporal First Class (NS) Pang was doing repair work inside a Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer (SSPH) during an annual live firing exercise in New Zealand on Jan 19 when he sustained a serious injury that led to his death four days later.
He was an armament technician from the 268th Battalion, Singapore Artillery. His death is the fifth reported since September 2017, following four preceding years of zero training- and operations-related fatalities.
The COI, whose findings will be made public, has full powers and access to material and witnesses to investigate the circumstances leading to the death.
It will also determine the contributory factors and make recommendations to rectify any lapses uncovered.
The COI will submit its full report to the ERPSS for comments.
The ministry said yesterday that in the last 15 years of SSPH operations, there has not been any reported injury of servicemen due to the gun being lowered for maintenance, or during operating or firing of the SSPH.
In the same period, more than 1,000 servicemen, operationally ready national servicemen and regulars have been trained to operate the SSPH, with around 12,500 rounds fired.
Chief of Army Major-General Goh Si Hou said on Jan 24 that Pang was in the SSPH cabin with two other servicemen - another technician and a gun detachment commander - when the incident happened.
Initial findings showed that he was crushed between the gun barrel of the SSPH and its cabin when he was unable to get out of the gun barrel's way as it was lowered.
The ministry said the SAF has reduced the training tempo for commanders and soldiers to assess safety protocols and plans in their units.