Timmy Constantine Low, a schoolmate of Dominique Sarron Lee from the Singapore Sports School has written a moving tribute to his friend in the Facebook page which is set-up in memory of the dead soldier.
Safety breaches led to death of Pte Lee acknowledged the Defence Minister in 2012. He died of an allergic reaction in a training exercise after a platoon commander threw six smoke grenades, even though regulations specified no more than two grenades were to have been used.
We republish the schoolmate’s tribute in full.
“I’m sure by now many of you reading this would be familiar with the tragic tale of one Dominique Sarron Lee. Dom was taken from us just days after her 21st birthday back in 2012 during what should’ve been a routine army training exercise.
I first met Dom back in 2005 at the Singapore Sports School, we were both goofy teenagers from different worlds – he was a sprinter and I a golfer. We bonded over our shared love of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic musical “The Phantom Of The Opera” and would often prefer to communicate by hand written notes pinned on our dormitory study desks instead of text messages. He’s sign off “O.B” for Opera Boy and being a year older I’d end my notes with “O.M” for Opera Man.
We shared plenty of good times and laughs during our days at the Sports School and on a few rare occasions after we graduated when life took us down different paths. But we always reminded each other of the pact we made as teenagers – whoever outlives the other has to place a single red rose on the other’s final resting place each year until we were reunited beyond the pearly gates (just like the Phantom in The Phantom Of The Opera).
One night in 2012 we touched base with each other over the phone after what seemed like forever. We planned to head out the following week to shoot the breeze, reminisce and catch up at a watering hole somewhere in town.
“Take care bro, I’ll see you then”
“Will do bud, be safe”
That was the last I heard from Dom, we never did get that drink, he passed away the following afternoon.
It all seemed like some horrible, surreal nightmare. I can’t recall many details about the days that followed but the details that I do remember are forever etched in my mind – His younger brother Daryl singing a soulful rendition of Mr Big’s “To Be With You” by his casket, his mother wailing uncontrollably at his funeral service and his father’s last words to him over his open grave.
My point? Dominique Sarron Lee wasn’t just another face in the crowd, another statistic, another I/C number – he was a person. Dom was a son to Felicia and Matthew, a brother to Daryl and a loyal friend to all those who had the blessing of knowing him.
Which is why the events that transpired over the last 3 years have infuriated me so much…
It’s not the fact he’s gone, we can’t change that, it’s life and as we know, life isn’t always fair. (I buried a father I barely knew at the age of 7, I’ve come to understand that whether you like it or not, life has to go on).
It’s not even the fact that his untimely death was brought about by an negligent oversight and an unnecessary compromise in safety protocols. (again, we all make mistakes, some have greater, more lasting consequences than others but nonetheless as painful as it is to admit, we’re all human, we’re fallible)
No, what makes my blood boil is the blatant lack of respect the powers that be have had towards those who my dear friend left behind. Their failure to take responsibility for the actions that took a life that still had so much to live for has made me seriously question my faith in the system that we were all raised to respect and honor.
For 21 years his family raised him, cared for him and loved him. It was their responsibility to make sure that he wanted for nothing, that he grew up to be a respectable citizen and a good man. I think it’s safe to say they did their part.
They entrusted their son’s life to the SAF like so many others when his time came to serve and were promised the highest standards of safety for their child. What they got in return was a funeral and a void that can never be filled.
The lawsuit his family brought against the SAF has now been tossed out and what’s worse, the Lee’s have been ordered to foot the legal fees for the very people that caused their beloved son’s death in the first place!
Dear reader I humbly ask you – where’s the justice in that?
We’re not asking for those responsible to be scourged in a public square of lynched in a back alley, we just want closure for those who only have memories of their beloved Dominique to hold on to for the rest of their lives. He wasn’t just another name on the register or face on an 11B, he was a son, a brother and a friend.
This search of justice and closure is far from over. As long as those who loved him draw breath we will do whatever it takes to give him and his family peace, it’s our responsibility and one we won’t shirk in the same way those we trusted did.
And as for the defendant’s legal fees? Surely if we’ve got the funds to send a S$556 million dollar ERP satellite into space in 2020 it shouldn’t be that much of an issue.
While we’re at it, they could pay for my goddamn roses too.
I miss you O.B. Fret not, our search from justice is far from over. I promise you will find peace.
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