Chief of Army says ‘very sorry’ twice for loss of ‘fellow soldier, precious son’

'We can do better.'

Tanya Ong |Joshua Lee | January 24, 2019 @ 05:22 pm


The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) sends its condolences to the family of fallen solder Aloysius Pang.

Speaking at a press conference held on Jan. 24, Chief of Army Goh Si Hou said he’s “very sorry” for Pang’s death:

“Let me just say that I’m very sorry for the loss of a fellow soldier, and a precious son. I extend again our heartfelt condolences to Aloysius’ family and loved ones. We are all saddened by this incident.”

Goh also admitted that SAF has to do better:

“I’ve told my commanders that this cannot be business as usual. We are very sorry for every training death that happens in the SAF. I told them that we must do better and we must do our utmost to restore confidence in our training safety and to ensure the safety of all our soldiers.”

“We can do better”

Chief of Defence, Melvyn Ong, also said that the SAF soldiers take their responsibility seriously:

“I see thousands of NSF and NSmen on a regular basis, they work hard, they train hard, they’re proud of what they do. It’s a responsibility that they don’t wear lightly on they sleeves. They know that they take it seriously.”

However, Ong also concurred that the SAF “can do better”:

“We have worked hard over the last couple of months, learned from each incident to put in place better procedures, measures, practices. But we can do better. We can do better.”

Safety timeout

Goh mentioned that they want to “put a singular focus on training safety on the ground” moving forward, even if this means “reducing the amount of training”.

In response to this incident, the army has called for a safety timeout.

This refers to all high-risk activities, such as field training and live firing.

There will also be a reduction of the training tempo to review safety procedures.

Ong said they believe that lowering the training tempo will give them more capacity to review safety and training to “ascertain the right biting point”.

The review process has started.

While addressing queries on whether there are concerns over systemic lapses, Ong stressed that “the system is largely in place, but [they] can do better”:

“We have a ERPSS (External Review Panel on SAF Safety). It has consistently told us, they’ve been formed to oversee the SAF safety. They have ascertained that the systems are in place and we listen to them. 14 SAF formations. They actively go around and analyse various parts of the army. Interim progress reports will also be provide to MINDEF leadership. I’d say the system is largely in place, but we can do better.”

Top image by Rachel Ng.

About Tanya Ong

Tanya hopes to own a roller skate disco one day.

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