Lawyer and activist Lim Tean reacted to the apology offered by Defence Minister (MINDEF) Ng Eng Hen in Parliament on Monday, February 11, for the recent SAF training deaths of four servicemen. For Lim, the apology was too little, too late.
Ng said in a ministerial statement, “I am deeply sorry for the loss of four precious NSmen (national servicemen) in the last 17 months. MINDEF and the SAF will hold ourselves accountable for every single NSman entrusted to us.”
The death of actor Aloysius Pang in a National Service training incident in New Zealand last month was met with a huge outpouring of not only grief but also no small degree of anger since it was the fourth such death in the span of sixteen months.
On his Facebook page, Lim called the Defence Minister’s apology, “A Sorry That Has Little Meaning!” and asked where Ng, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and President Halimah Yacob were when the country was grieving over the untimely demise of Pang.
He asked why none of the three had attended Pang’s wake.
According to Lim, Pang’s death was a moment for the nation to come together and “grieve as One.” None of the three leaders attended Pang’s wake, and Lim wrote that sending Lawrence Wong to represent the Government “was totally inadequate and inappropriate.”
Lim ended his post with, “Contrast this with another recent bereavement where an army of PAP ministers and former Ministers attended. Are the PAP more interested in serving ordinary Singaporeans or their supporters?”
Many netizens agreed with Lim, with some Singaporeans calling for greater accountability.
While MINDEF has said that one more safety measure it is putting in place is the installment of reverse sensors to avoid the kind of accident that took Pang’s life. Since this sort of sensor has been available for many years now, netizens are also asking,‘What took them so long to come up with reverse sensors?’
Another netizen asked, “What are the new actions to be taken…(to stop this unnecessary death ..and to inculcate a safety culture among NS men)??”
For some, the question of who is answerable for the deaths seem paramount. One asked Ng, “Who should be accountable for the past 4 fatalities, dear sir?”