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SAF captain on trial for failing to keep NSF who died in 2018 Bionix accident safe

Captain accused of ordering corporal to overtake another vehicle without checking whether that was safe




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Singapore—A captain of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is currently on trial over the death of a full-time national serviceman (NSF) in 2018.

Twenty-two-year-old Liu Kai, who was later posthumously promoted to Corporal First Class (CFC), was pinned to death in a Land Rover by a Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) on Nov 3, 2018.

His commanding officer, Ong Lin Jie, 30, has claimed trial over one charge of doing a rash act not amounting to culpable homicide.

Capt Ong, who was suspended following the incident,  was charged with a rash act as he is said to have failed to keep a safe distance of 30 metres between the Land Rover and the Bionix vehicle. Capt Ong was in the passenger seat of the Land Rover with CFC Liu as his driver.

The captain has also been accused of ordering CFC Liu to overtake the Bionix vehicle without communicating with the latter to determine whether it would be safe to do so.

The full-time national serviceman died when the Bionix reversed into the Land Rover on the driver’s side. 

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The Bionix IFV reversed into CFC Liu’s vehicle at around 10.10am. He lost consciousness and succumbed to his injuries and medical officers pronounced him dead around 10.35 am.

His cause of death: traumatic asphyxia, according to a report from CNA.

At that time, CFC Liu was a transport operator from the SAF’s Transport Hub West and a full-time national serviceman driver.

Capt Ong was his platoon trainer with the Armour Unit Training Centre.

The fatal incident occurred during a three-day exercise near Sungei Gedong Camp which had been aimed at enhancing Kaffir Company’s operational capabilities.

In the exercise, the Jaguar Company from the 42nd Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment, acted as the “opposition force” whose objective was to delay Kaffir Company’s advance.

Capt Ong, as a trainer with the Jaguar Company for the exercise, was in the passenger seat of a Land Rover, with CFC Liu as his driver, so he could monitor the exercise.

The captain was directly responsible for the safety of all the men during the exercise, including CFC Liu.

Moreover, it was his responsibility to ensure that a safe distance was maintained between the two vehicles.

At one point during the exercise, the Land Rover driven by CFC Liu stopped behind one Bionix IFV, BX13, which was around 30 to 31 metres ahead of them. 

They did not know why the vehicle had stopped.

Ahead of it was another IFV. The leader of the Jaguar Company opposition force, in BX13, radioed the other IFV, saying, “I see your vehicle, your vehicle is in front of me, correct?”   

“I never see you,” was the reply.

There were more IFVs that were spotted by those in BX13 at this point, and they realised that these were from Kaffir Company.

Capt Ong told CFC Liu to overtake BX13 on the left. Because BX13 remained unmoving, the safety distance of 30 metres was breached. 

At the same time, those in BX13 were firing rounds at the IFVs in front of them, as part of the exercises.

Then, the driver of BX13 reversed his vehicle.

At the point when CFC Liu realised that rounds were being fired, he stopped the Land Rover around 16 to 18 metres behind BX13.

This is when the IFV ended up mounting the Land Rover and killing CFC Liu.

According to Deputy Public Prosecutors Hay Hung Chun, Zhou Yihong, Angela Ang and Benedict Chan, Capt Ong had “failed to fulfil this basic obligation” of keeping CFC Liu safe.

“It was this rash decision that led to the collision between the Bionix IFV and the Land Rover, and the deceased’s untimely death,” they told District Judge Jasvender Kaur.

Capt Ong faces up to five years in jail, a fine, or both, if he is found guilty. 


Read also: Three former NSFs fined for leaking photos of Private Liu Kai’s death

Three former NSFs fined for leaking photos of Private Liu Kai’s death

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