Mother pens letter to late son who died during National Service in 2012 for failing him

Mother laments that she has not found closure.

Belmont Lay| March 04, 10:10 AM

The mother of the late Private Dominique Sarron Lee, 21, who died in 2012 from an allergic reaction to smoke grenades during a military exercise, has penned a letter to her late son.

In the post put up on Facebook, she lamented that she has not found closure since her son's passing and questioned why she had to pay the legal costs of the other party after she tried but failed to take them to court.

This was after the High Court on March 3, 2016, dismissed the lawsuit brought against the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and two of its officers by the family of Private Lee.

In the closed-door hearing, all three defendants had applied to strike out the claim on the grounds that there is no reasonable cause of action and that the suit is frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the court process.

The defendants had argued — in a line of defence that relied on this provision in the Government Proceedings Act — that they are indemnified from being sued for negligence for deaths and injuries if the acts are certified to be attributable to service.

The family of Private Lee had filed the civil suit in 2015.

Previously, in a Ministerial Statement on National Service Training Deaths in 2012, it was explained how and why the SAF trainers are indemnified.

However, the negligent parties were still required to face action, and possibly, punishment via court martial, but they do not have to pay for compensation.

Private Lee, who was known to be asthmatic, was a former track athlete from the Singapore Sports School.

On the day prior to his death, he was evacuated to Sungei Gedong Medical Centre before being warded at National University Hospital.

He was pronounced dead at about 2pm the same day.


A coroner's inquiry in August 2013 found that he had died from an acute allergic reaction to zinc chloride, a key compound used in smoke grenades.

An independent Committee of Inquiry (COI) in 2012 had found that there was a safety breach as the number of smoke grenades (six in total) used in the exercise exceeded by three times the limit of two specified in safety regulations.

Following Lee's death, the SAF has suspended the use of smoke grenades which produce zinc chloride fumes for training exercises.