berthahenson

Keeping sons safe

In News Reports on November 15, 2012 at 2:48 am

It must have been tough for the Defence Minister to tell Parliament about SAF safety breaches. So many soldiers involved! Driving without a licence, not belting up – the Traffic cops would have a field day if they were normal motorists! Then anyhow throwing smoke grenades…

I commend Mindef though for coming clean on the death of two Singapore sons. The commanders have been removed, named and shamed. But I’m not sure that the public is convinced that the SAF has a tight safety culture. There were 100 calls to the safety hotline, Dr Ng Eng Hen, but the Chief of Army says the problem in the camp where the vehicle overturned is an isolated problem. What does that mean? That the calls were all made from one camp? Methinks this needs clarification. What were those 100 calls about? How were they checked up? What are the military penalties for those caught by the safety inspectorate for flouting safety rules? What are “routine’’ inspections. How “routine’’?

I think more reassurances are in order, even though there are just two training deaths a year. I mean, tell that to the families affected. It’s not a statistic, it’s a son or brother. And I am not sure what to make of the mother’s comment that she wasn’t offered an apology for what happened. Sorry cannot be too hard to say in this case, unless Mindef is worried about liability issues…

There’s still a third death to be investigated, the soldier who drowned in a river in Brunei. Now is this going to be yet another safety breach? Not in-camp, but abroad? Sigh.

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  1. […] Bertha Harian : Keeping sons safe – Singapore Notes: Why Was My Son […]

  2. Actually, it’s keeping daughters safe too. Don’t forget it was 4 women who died in the RSS Courageous incident.

  3. I strongly suspect that MINDEF is looking at and treating and accepting the statistics, like how the traffic police/LTA regard fatal road statistics – that they are unavoidable and there will always be such fatalities given the nature of the ‘activities’ involved. Just like it is impossible to prevent maids from falling from great heights because their employers insist that they have to clean the windows regularly. Like the admonishment in the Chinese saying that if you go into the mountain often enough you are likely to meet a tiger on one of your trips (and be eaten alive).

    The ministries and agencies work only to keep them low, not eradicate them completely given the impossibility of eliminating fools and black sheep from the respective groups. Just recall how many such higher boards have been conducted by MINDEF throughout its short history since Goh Keng Swee’s time. But, to his credit, Goh, an economist, in the aftermath of one SAF incident (crashing of an RSAF plane, I think) was more interested in the well being of the pilot than the million dollar flying machine that had crashed. So he had his heart in the right place. I wonder if this is also the case with our current Defence Minister who also happened to be a doctor.

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