Brigadier-General Siew Kum Wong, Chief of Staff – General Staff confirmed last night that an independent Committee of Inquiry (COI) will be convened to look into the death of 19-year-old NSF Dave Lee Han Xuan.
Private Lee was conveyed to Changi General Hospital (CGH) on 18 April due to heat-related injuries, after an 8km fast march at Bedok Camp. The Guardsman from the 1st Battalion Singapore Guards fell into a coma and spent 12 days at CGH’s Intensive Care Unit as his condition worsened, before he passed away at 5.32pm on Monday, a mere 10 days after this 19th birthday.
Revealing that the COI will be chaired by a senior civil servant from outside the Ministry of Defence and Singapore Armed Forces, Brigadier-General Siew said in a statement on Facebook that if training safety violations are uncovered in the inquiry, the personnel found responsible will be held accountable.
The COI will have full powers and access to both information and personnel during its investigation so that it can uncover the contributing factors that led to Private lee’s death and outline recommendations to correct any lapses if any come to light.
Adding that Private Lee will be accorded a military funeral and will be awarded the Guards and Recon military tabs, as well as the Guards beret he had been training for, Brigadier-General Siew revealed that Private Lee also received posthumous recognition of the rank of Corporal First Class.
He added: “The Army will do our utmost to support his family in this time of grief.”
The Army is saddened by the passing of the late PTE Lee Han Xuan Dave, and extend our deepest condolences to his family….
Brigadier-General Siew’s post on The Singapore Army Facebook page comes after Dave’s aunts appealed to the authorities to release a full, public explanation into what caused their nephew’s passing.
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.”
Meanwhile, several past and present guardsmen have replaced their Facebook profile picture with either a photo of a Guards logo against a black ribbon or a photo of the Guards military tab. Several netizens have also switched their profile pictures to black and white photos of Private Lee.