Family member of 19-year-old NSF who died from heat stroke demands more information after allegations that case was mishandled surface

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Family members of 19-year-old Dave Lee are demanding that the authorities give the public a full explanation of what happened to Lee, who died from heatstroke while serving National Service.

This, after a letter by an anonymous soldier detailing what allegedly happened that night began circulating online. The author of the viral letter claims that Lee was “forced” to complete the fast march even though he showed clear signs of severe heat exhaustion.

The alleged soldier also claimed that “the commanders did not follow the proper protocol for a soldier in heat exhaution” and “to add insult to injury, the sergeants were just surrounding him, talking cock and laughing and cracking jokes around him, obviously thinking the soldier is trying to keng.”

Sharing the anonymous letter, Lee’s aunt Cecilia Yeoh appealed: “We are saddened by the passing of my nephew, Dave Lee. You may have seen the below post circulating in Facebook and while the truth can’t bring my nephew back, he deserves the truth to be told. I am sharing this in pain but we demand full explanation from SAF to the public, who trustingly sent their children to serve the nation. I hope you share our pain and support that SAF must release full investigation and identity of all culprits to the public. Thanks.”

Read the anonymous letter in full here:

I am a soldier from 1 guards. One of our fellow soldier is currently in critical condition heat stroke (possibly brain dead) due to the reckless behavior of my fellow commanders. I want to bring this to light so that the commanders involved are duly punished and nothing gets hidden as part of the investigation.
Dave is still in critical condition in the hospital, and it has almost been one week since the incident. But there has been rumours that his condition has worsening .
**Illegal turnout**
The night before a 8km fast march (an activity considered high key) our entire recce platoon was turned out after lights out by our sergants, forcing us to bear crawl to the SOC grounds at bedok camp, doing thier usual tekan of making us roll in the sand and have water poured on us, to satisfy their own sadistic pleasure. Asa result we did not have the adequate 7 hours of rest mandated by the traning safety regulation required for our fast march the next day.
**Commanders forcing trainees**
During the fast march, Dave struggled to complete his fast march and was dragged by senior commanders, forcing him to finish the fast march even though he was showing signs of extreme physical exhaution.
Dave collapsed after collecting his timing chip at our company line. We saw Dave breathing frantically, going through delirium, with his tounge out and only the white in his eyes visible. he was not articulate.
**inability of commanders to spot heat exhaustion**
It was obvious that even to an untrained soldier, especially commanders who went to OCS / SCS, that dave was going through Heat Exhaution or even heat stroke. yet they still acted as though there as nothing severe or that he could even be acting “keng”
**non-administering of ice packs / BCU / water mist**
the commanders did not follow the proper protocol for a soldier in heat exhaution. His cloths were not removed, no ice pack were place at the vital heat dissapation points in his body and the medic was even blur not knowing what to do. The safety officer was nowhere to be found during this whole time and the commnders left his body under the hot sun instead of bringing it to a shaded area. it took them almost 30minutes to an hour before they even stretched him away to the medical center before he was even transported to a hospital using the Military ambulance.
**Lack of seriousness towards the incident**
To add insult to injury, the sergeants were just surrounding him, talking cock and laughing and cracking jokes around him, obviously thinking the soldier is trying to keng. I hope sgt Justin, ren zong, nich, ren jie and jonas is punished for this. I really hope the army safety throughly investigates this incident and punishes the people involved. Its no point doing lip service to “safety” by adding it as a core value when safety is not given heed.
if anything happens to him, i believe its the fault of the commanders who did not know eve how to administer the proper procedure for Heat Stroke, wasting vital time before his temperature reached 42deg. As well as commanders who dont understand the seriousness of the uninteruppted rest that is required as per training safety regulation, especially for high key activities.

Dear friends,We are saddened by the passing of my nephew, Dave Lee. You may have seen the below post circulating in…

Posted by Cecilia Yeo on Monday, 30 April 2018

Dear Dave, thank you for coming into our lives. Our world lost its colours and will never be the same without you. Thank…

Posted by Cecilia Yeo on Monday, 30 April 2018

279 COMMENTS

  1. Now all the ns boy commanders is in panic stage after reading this post. If this is what the anonymous soldiers wrote is true then the section commanders, Platoon commander, safety officer and officer commander should be punish. Detention barrack for 2 yrs minimum

  2. Trust an independent investigation is conducted to ascertain the facts of the viral letter. Many parents of other NSF personnel will be very concerned as well. Our soldiers should only sacrifice their lives defending Singaporeans in battle against foreigners.

    • Why kind of justice? You’re demanding justice on someone else’s kid who have a mother too.

      And you’re using the ‘you’re a mother and you know how broken she must be now’ trick in the book!!!! Have you experienced something like the lad’s mother is going through now!?

      If you have not, how you think you feel now is bullshit!

      We all know, until you experienced the same, you can’t possibly know how it feels! You can assume how it feels but you can’t know for sure!

  3. Very common in SAF, this type of training only surface when someone has died from it. sAF only like to show off but the treatment to soldiers are nil. I think you better go to jail for not doing NS is better then dying in the the training ground.

    • A young life is lost. A fallen comrade in arms. My deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. Let not speculate what happened as the post could be made by a disgruntled soldier and a one sided story.

      I am sure there will be a COI on the cause and events preceding the unfortunate passing of a soldier. Many of us have served NS, many changes have taken place over the years. Training safety are of paramount priority, only foolish commanders would dare to flout tsr.

      I would have got away with a lot during my time in the service but nowadays the SAF are much more regimented against delinquent commanders as against foot soldiers. Of course there will still be a few black sheep who are foolish enough to think they can bend rules.

  4. As usual similar to the case of the wrongly administered amount of smoke granades in the death of Private Dominique Lee, the gahmen will just allow SAF to deal with the guilty commanders behind closed doors and the family members will nv get a closure on any justice served to the culprits that caused the death of their loved ones

  5. They won’t admit it is their fault. The last death of a soldier inhaling too much smoke genrades, the commander also did not get any form of punishment even though all evidence point towards excessive smoke genrades were used. So this time round won’t be any different unless you are well connected within the elite world else nothing will happen to those culprits. Look at the report that mindef issued earlier. Everything was done to ensure that the soldier was treated with heat exhaustion. Kind of give you an insight of what direction the investigation is going. Life is cheap.

  6. Our sons risk their lives to protect this country, but it appears nothing has improved to safeguard theirs. After the usual condescending explanation and condolent words by Defence Minister, things go on as it is until same tragedy strikes on another parents’ son.

    • Risk their lives? Who risk their lives serving NS? Isn’t that too dramatic??

      If you think nothing has improved then you must have been a clerk in your days.

      What has not improved are the ways parents bring up their kids! In fact the upbringing have slide backwards!

      Besides, no amount of improvement in safety protocols can prevent death.
      Just like cars, the technology have improved since Henry Ford made the first car but death still happen.

  7. If the story be true, a thorough open and transparent investigation to examine all evidences and witnesses should be conducted by independent panel set up by MHA with a SAF rep. member seating in to clear all doubt of impartiality to its’ investigation into the death of the victim.
    No stone should be left unturned to find out the truth of the matter to protect the reputation of SAF and the faith of all Singaporean parents who placed their sons in the care of SAF .
    Public confidence should not be shaken with any tinge of partiality in the proceedings of the investigation , a young life has ceded and the seriousness of the investigation should do justice to the deceased and satisfactorily answer to his family members and public at large!
    Deepest condolences to the family of the late soldier Dave ; RIP Dave.

  8. Lots of explanation need to be done. No parents wants to see their son to do complusory NS but ends up in a tragedy which can be avoided if SOPs are met. So, SOP are just out of formality? Not meant to follow? Thus, in the first place, why bother to write up SOPs when platoons commanders and ICs anyhow tekan sadistly? I am a mother of 2 boys and I feel for this mother who just lost a dear son. Life of a boy/man is so cheap in Singapore!

    • You feel for the mother? How?? By assuming how it would feel like!? That’s bullshit!

      I’m a father and my son just finished serving NS. He enjoyed it, even got himself promoted twice in the two short years he served.

      He followed protocols, think outside of the box and did what is not in the manuals, to ensure the safety of the men under his command. No one died in training.

      You may want to start telling your two boys, NS is not for softies and pussies! It’s not like at home where mommy and daddy will do the thinking for you and cocoon you from harm.

      Besides, compulsory NS was not implemented last year! How many Singaporean men have done it and completed it?! Those who are tough survives and those who are not, blame the system till this day! Which of the two category do you want your two boys to be in?

  9. I was one of the trainee POW training that claimed the life of the hwachong guardsman. When the training was cut due to the victim being sent to ICU. We were threatened by the trainers verbally when we took off our blindfolds when we saw their faces. It was a sad day indeed.

    • Don’t be afraid to speak up. I was charged by a CO of a school donkey years ago. Long story, in brief just that the CO wanted to charge me due to a complaint by somebody from another camp and accused me of an offence. He insisted on charging me even though the admin officer and instructors explained to him that I was not to be blamed cos he wanted to appease the complainant who demanded “punishment” for an “oversight”. When the charge was read out, I didn’t even bother to listen. When it was done, I just said, “I choose to be court-martialled!”. The CO’s face turned black and sent me off. He had no choice but to close case and transferred me out. It was a scandal then.

    • Don’t be afraid to speak up. I was charged by a CO of a school donkey years ago. Long story, in brief just that the CO wanted to charge me due to a complaint by somebody from another camp and accused me of an offence. He insisted on charging me even though the admin officer and instructors explained to him that I was not to be blamed cos he wanted to appease the complainant who demanded “punishment” for an “oversight”. When the charge was read out, I didn’t even bother to listen. When it was done, I just said, “I choose to be court-martialled!”. The CO’s face turned black and sent me off. He had no choice but to close case and transferred me out. It was a scandal then.

  10. Such an unfortinate case and a precious young life lost… My condolences to the family in this tough time. I also have a younger brother enlisting soon this july, damn worried but guess we have to accpet that there are risks in any training lah… this issue quite serious, dont think will be sweep under the carpet and hopefully thorough investigations will be done. saw a report that COI will be set up for this investigation so hopefully will have the truth soon. dont speculate, let’s respect the family and give them space to grieve

  11. That’s what happens when you give absolute power to a bunch of useless brain-fried teenagers, half of whom think that the belly-button is a g-spot. Their greatest achievements before army are their DOTA records and probably botched intercourse with the neighbourhood pet cat in their sweat-stained JC uniforms.

    • Watch your mouth! Who are you calling useless brain fried teenagers!?

      Btw, were you not once a useless brain fried teenager who thought your belly button is a g spot and probably botched your intercourse with the neighborhood pet cat too?

    • Michael G R Lum nah I wasn’t dumb enough to be lured into being a “sergeant”. Maybe you were academically impotent enough to opt to be one or selected to be one but don’t assume that everyone shares your inferior distorted genes bro:)

  12. Sad to say, there is nothing u can do with the current regime. The commander will be promoted and if u have voted for the system, no one can help u unless u belong to the white elites. And sad to say, u deserved it if u have voted for such a system

  13. By reading the feedback from one of the private, i hope all privates will stand up and give evidence in court.
    If you all are under threat to seal your mouth, speak up, internet is always available

    We need to know the truth
    My condolences to decreased family

    Net citizens, llet us push for full investigation up to the Parliament

    I suggest Investigating team must include private practise doctors or professors, beside army doctors

  14. By reading the feedback from one of the private, i hope all privates will stand up and give evidence in court.
    If you all are under threat to seal your mouth, speak up, internet is always available

    We need to know the truth
    My condolences to decreased family

    Net citizens, llet us push for full investigation up to the Parliament

    I suggest Investigating team must include private practise doctors or professors, beside army doctors

  15. If this is true, the criminals should be haunted by nightmares for the rest of their lives, taking a precious life so lightly.

    The governement has to address the citizens on this issue. Our boys study like dogs from Primary 1 (or younger), up to A levels, served NS and died during training, not a real war. One could say tough training is part of NS but I defer to say time has changed. Our boys are not as physically equipped since most are drilled by MOE rigorous system for the first 18 years of their lives ie brain work not physical work. Besides, everyone has different health condition and coping mechanism, how could the officers dismiss his discomfort so lightly? Aren’t our kids taught to be vocal and speak up for themselves?

    I feel so sorry and heart pain for the parents. I can feel their sorrows but nothing as much as what they are going through. To lose a son because NS is mandatory for Singaporean males and the officers are not properly trained or think that SAF officers = power to do what they deem without following protocal or are there loopholes?

    I pray he rest in peace.

    • Michael G R Lum Good qn! I believe most of engage the kids in some form of exercise such as swimming, jogging and other sports. What kind of regime do you suggest for me to prepare my child for NS to cope with the physical demand of being drilled through the night (ie this boy deprived of the required 7 hrs rest prior to a march) & then 7km walk in the hot sun in the army uniform and equipment? I would be very keen to know, perhaps I should start early.

  16. If this is true, the criminals should be haunted by nightmares for the rest of their lives, taking a precious life so lightly.

    The governement has to address the citizens on this issue. Our boys study like dogs from Primary 1 (or younger), up to A levels, served NS and died during training, not a real war. One could say tough training is part of NS but I defer to say time has changed. Our boys are not as physically equipped since most are drilled by MOE rigorous system for the first 18 years of their lives ie brain work not physical work. Besides, everyone has different health condition and coping mechanism, how could the officers dismiss his discomfort so lightly? Aren’t our kids taught to be vocal and speak up for themselves?

    I feel so sorry and heart pain for the parents. I can feel their sorrows but nothing as much as what they are going through. To lose a son because NS is mandatory for Singaporean males and the officers are not properly trained or think that SAF officers = power to do what they deem without following protocal or are there loopholes?

    I pray he rest in peace.

  17. This is white god system, other Singaporeans children are not son , only their n member children are son. Other mother say milk powder is high cost white god say No is you to choosing, their member become mother n say milk powder is high cost , white god say Yes. What a service to Singaporeans.

  18. This is white god system, other Singaporeans children are not son , only their n member children are son. Other mother say milk powder is high cost white god say No is you to choosing, their member become mother n say milk powder is high cost , white god say Yes. What a service to Singaporeans.

  19. What is written by anonymous could be true as someone close did experience quite similar problem with the commanders, mo and other ranks personnel. Instead of getting to the problems and complaint of the soldier, they choose to think the soldier chao keng (skiving). These useless buggers thinks every army boy is their property. Would they do it to their own sons? If not, why? and what freaking right do they have to treat these boys like dirt? Mfs.

    • It can be true if you want it to be true. Just like old ladies buying magical stones to cure cancer.

      You can’t really blame them coz some people can really chao keng they can win an Oscar.

      And you’re quite right, when you serve NS, you are the property of the SAF. And yes, even if you’re a minister’s son or a general’s son, it’s the same treatment.
      Some people choose to assume otherwise.

      These boys are treated like dirt because they are undergoing a tough training program. For most, it’s their first experience of being treated like they don’t matter unlike at home or in their social circle.

      These boys are also not the first batch. There were many many many many other batches before them who have gone through the same under less ideal conditions. No one died so far.

  20. What is written by anonymous could be true as someone close did experience quite similar problem with the commanders, mo and other ranks personnel. Instead of getting to the problems and complaint of the soldier, they choose to think the soldier chao keng (skiving). These useless buggers thinks every army boy is their property. Would they do it to their own sons? If not, why? and what freaking right do they have to treat these boys like dirt? Mfs.

  21. Bastards…. need to be punished … my hearts goes out to the mum… no one can replace her lost son… only mothers knows the pain of losing a child…we carried the child for 9 months nurtured the child grown up … the bloody army just say sorry …for killing the child…

  22. All these vehemence means nothing to the SAF and to the government that Singaporeans voted for.

    Singaporeans do not have the tenacity nor the courage to make those responsible be accountable.

    The case of the late Pte Dominique Sarron Lee was quickly showcased as one that resulted in changes in training SOPs, but ignored the issues that mattered – the facts that resulted in his death, and the men who were responsible for it.

  23. Why do people (commanders) behave and think in this manner? I am furious. Time and again. It emerge that such petty people when place commanding positions have abused that power. A life is lost. But they have no remorse but to protect themselves. The only persons to benefit from the army are the generals now in high PAP govt appointed posts. This is the biggest rip off.

  24. My cousin died during a route march over 30 years ago. From heat exhaustion. In almost identical circumstances. Witnesses pointed to commanders and senior NCOs. But nothing came of it. You’d think one of the too many paper generals would’ve figured a way to avoid this after three decades. And they wonder why so many question the decision to raise these pencil pushers into leadership roles in the real world.

  25. Can you all remember quick March ? It was a form of punishment. One of my platoon mate fainted and send to Changi hospital (the old Changi hospital). Luckily he did not fall into coma. Else the co and platoon commander will be in deep shit

  26. This is a pure sign of social issue, in fact our society is so sick…we don’t care for others anymore…

    Process, protocol, procedure, law….blah blah….these are there to handle to minority…if majority lack of care and love of others….the system will continue to fail thinking strengthening the process will help…I ensure it will not…

    We have lost our human moral natural…good luck to us

  27. Abolish this propaganda NS. Useless. It is more of a cheap labour. Responsibilities and trainings are same as full time army,police or scdf BUT are paid peanuts for 2 years. If really needs to serve NS,follow like Sth Korea. Only army,not Scdf,police force AND after completed 2 years NO reservist. PERIOD.

  28. When the JC merging exercise happened, the education minister took quite a while before issuing a statement. Let’s see how long it’ll take Minister NG to say something.

    You see a common pattern, they are always quick to take credit but love to hide behind their comms department when such incidents happen.

  29. THIS MAN MADE TRAGEDY WILL BE A GOOD TEST OF WHETHER THE SAF WILL BE RESPONSIBLE ACCOUNTABLE FOR ITS UNNECESSARY INEXCUSABLE MISTAKE.

    Will they admit that it was an available TRAGEDY. Or will they Deny totally and give Fake news of this TRAGEDY.

    Wait and see.

  30. The minister of defence. SAF and the ministry would be going all out to get the NS soldier who shared what happened to Dave on the fateful day. To prove he is a disgruntled soldier spreading fake news and lies about what happened. Yishun black snake might come out in full force to defend the SAF.
    Too many cases like this has happened.
    My late brother Jegathesan Palani died in such a manner in camp after a run 9 years ago .
    For the paper generals SAF can never be wrong

    • Your brother died from heat exhaustion and it’s the fault of the SAF and the paper generals?

      Are you suggesting the SAF and the paper generals have the power to prevent that!?

      Even the God you worshipped couldn’t prevent it from happening and you’re blaming the SAF and paper generals?

  31. Why do we hear news of NSmen losing their lives more often than NSmen losing their rifles? That’s probably because SAF puts the message across clearly & strongly for the rifles. If an NSman loses his rifle, for whatever good reason, he is in deep shit. His commander & many more up the chain of command are also in deep shit. The consequence is more clearly spelled out to everyone even before the rifle is handed over to him. When it comes to soldiers’ lives, the message is probably not as clear-cut & strong. These young & newly trained commanders who habe gone through the same kind of harsh treatment, humiliation & risk themselves just a few months ago before they got promoted will likely do the same things to their soldiers. That’s the only way they know. And they will take care of their rifles more than the lives of their soldiers, because the consequence of losing the rifle is very clear to them while the consequence of losing a soldier’s life is not as clear.

  32. My deepest condolences to Dave’s parents. I have 3 sons myself, eldest son has already completed NS, the second son now serving NS like Dave and the 3rd son has already been called up to register for enlistment. I felt very tense at this moment as my eldest son told me that t is true that life is really cheap in the army.

    Why should we as parents spend our lfe bringing up good children and to let the boys be subjected to the two years of so-called training them to be real men. Who knows if all of these boys can be lucky enough to return home alive. My heart is very heavy and I don’t feel good getting my 3rd son to enlist for NS.

  33. Every NS boy is an asset of the country whether he comes from rich land or heartland families. Our sons don’t enjoy serving 2 years under duress of the country mandatory obligation and to loose career opportunities. How could they be treated like pariah by the over enthusiastic unit commanders who think that the recruits are trying to excuse over medical conditions. If SaF can’t take care of our boys, then the whole SAF machinery has to revamp and paper generals to be sack. The Defence Minister has to take responsibility and step down after the COI has investigated the cause of the recruit unexpected demise.

    • The system have been largely the same for the last 60 years. They have made some changes for the better.
      What is different are the quality of the boys that enter the system.

      Who should be held accountable for that!?

      I do not agree with the point on loss career opportunities. Many Singaporeans go on to have fabulous careers and achievements after serving NS.
      It’s a myth and a lame excuse some people still use to this day that NS caused their failures in life.

  34. The whole platoon was statistically punished the night before, depriving them of much needed rest for the next morning”s tough march. This form of sadistic bullying has been going on for the entire SAF history, all in the name of “toughening” our poor NS guys. I have experienced this myself 50 years ago.

  35. The company was deprived of admin time which they legitimately supposed to have. Not given admin time is down right sadistic bullying. Imagine all day under the hot sun and not given enough admin time to bath? How to cool down the body? The next day they have to do all the activities under the hot sun again? All these high up morons ought to be brought to justice if found guilty.

  36. How to differentiate real from keng? Does anyone know for sure? Everyone an expert after the fact.

    Just natural selection I guess, some are meant to live and some to die. Everyone think they will go only when they want to.

    Rest In Peace Guardsman!
    Ready To Strike! Hooyah!

  37. Please jail all involved to instill a MORE important National Service DEVELOPMENT of EMPATHY and HUMANITY than inculcating a horrible culture of PSYCHOPATHIC ways our boys learn to dispense to those under their control after they immerse with real society.

  38. Let the authority deal with the case as it should be. Please do not complicate the matter by social pressure. I am not saying who is right or who is wrong as we are far from what actually happened. I believe the system which has proved itself more than 60 years will survive the challenge.

    • Have you been conscripted into the army before? With the kind of generals coming out of the army and sinking our NOL and soon-to-be-sunk SPH, and numerous more losing our monies through the GLCs, what system has proved itself?? If the system has proved anything at all, it is this: the national elitist scholar system has already proven itself a disaster. The so called scholars will lead singapore to crash and burn in ignominy.

    • The system will survive, it is the boys their parents send to the system who may not survive.

      Makes you wonder why so many before survived and those now are having such a hard time.

      Maybe it’s not the system at fault but the parents are at fault. However it’s easier to be angry at someone or something else than themselves.

  39. The top leader, in this case, commander 1st Guards, must take full responsibility. He alone is responsible for the failure and the misconduct of the commanders and troops under his command. 1st Guards Commander must be the first person to apologize to the grieving family and to the nation, and then resign in honour. Nothing less is acceptable.

  40. It is not uncommon for trainers and superiors in the army to bully their junior soldiers. Sadly, our sons are born to be tortured by them physically or mentally once they are scripted into National Service. Must make these torturers pay for it!

  41. You’re speaking like the commanders and the SAF have the power to prevent heat exhaustion/heat stroke!

    This is an avoidable incident? How??

    You know what is avoidable? The parents should have used a condom! This is what you’re saying, avoidable!

  42. Why don’t you give a thought to how many people your son will meet in his life who are not obligated to be nice and ask the same question.

    You think NS is the only time your son may be subjected to being treated like dirt?

    Wake up woman!!!

  43. Yah you’re angry with my comment but perhaps you should have considered that before having children!

    Are you another parent that think your son is better than everyone else and deserves to be treated nicely and fairly and everyone is obligated to treat him like a pet like you do!?

  44. There is an existing procedure to deal with the death during training of NSman . A COI commission of inquiry will be convened by MINDEF . This is inquiry will be chaired by a senior civil servant from another Ministry to look into the cause of death and circumstances leading to it and any breaches of training safety .

  45. SAF change your ways. You are playing with people’s children. If you are a young NS commander you will not know the feeling parents have for their sones & daughters. You are not Doctors or medical professionals. If a soldier shows signs of exhaustion especially heat related exhaustion treat him first until the doctor confirms he is “KENG”. Do not take lives into your own hands.