Local actor Aloysius Pang, who passed away yesterday after suffering serious injuries during his reservist training in New Zealand, is the eighth Singaporean to have died in the past one and a half years while serving the nation.
Pang, an armament technician, and his unit had been undergoing their reservist training at the Waiouru Training Area in New Zealand. The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) revealed last night that Pang had been carrying out repair works inside a self-propelled howitzer with his team last Saturday when the gun barrel was lowered, crushing him.
Pang fought for his life at the Waikato Hospital in New Zealand but succumbed to his injuries, despite the best efforts of medical professionals. The day before MINDEF announced Pang’s death, one of his siblings wrote on social media:
“We all broke down when the medical team spoke to us that his condition is worsening and we should be prepared for the worst. We’re going to lose a brother. And my parents are going to lose their precious son whom is only 28.”
Pang’s loss has devastated his family, friends, colleagues and countless fans who saw him grow up before their eyes, from when he joined Mediacorp as a child actor back in 1999. The beloved actor, however, is not the only young Singaporean who has passed away during military training.
In just the past one and a half years alone, at least eight young Singaporean men have died while serving their nation. At least five of these cases are accidents during training. None of these eight Singaporeans died on the battle ground:
- Sep 15, 2017: 21-year-old 3SG Gavin Chan died in a vehicular mishap at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Australia;
- Apr 30, 2018: 19-year-old CFC Dave Lee died after being hospitalized for a severe heatstroke he suffered during a fast march while serving his national service;
- May 13, 2018: 22-year-old SCDF NSF Corporal Kok Yuen Chin died in a ragging incident;
- Jul 28, 2018: An SAF regular serviceman was found hanging from a rope in his bunk in Nee Soon Camp;
- Sep 9, 2018: A 23-year-old police NSF died a week after he was found with a gunshot wound to his head;
- Sep 28, 2018: An NSF was found hanging from a rope in his office in Sembawang Air Base;
- Nov 3, 2018: 22-year-old CFC Liu Kai, 22, died when an armored infantry fighting vehicle reversed into his jeep at the Jalan Murai training grounds;
- Jan 23, 2019: 28-year-old CFC (NS) Aloysius Pang succumbed to injuries sustained during an ICT training in New Zealand.
Training deaths have continued to mount despite Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen’s assurances that the Singapore Armed Forces will work to “eliminate” such training deaths by designing and enforcing safety systems.
In a parliamentary speech last May, Dr Ng acknowledged that although this is a “difficult goal” it must be reached because if not, another “precious son (is) lost to a family.”
At a press conference on Aloysius Pang’s death this evening, MINDEF’s manpower director Lee Chung Wei said that MINDEF follows civil court principles and the Work Injury Compensation Act when it comes to compensation in such cases.
Lee, who also serves as Secretary of the Armed Forces Council, added: “In fact, in many cases, we are much more generous. Due to confidentiality reasons, we do not speak about the specific compensation for the families. This is something that we will only speak to the families about.”