Speaking in Parliament yesterday (Jan 9), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen ruled that no civil lawsuits can be lodged against the Government even when the latter is at fault for National Service-related training leading to injuries or death.
“The TSR (Training Safety Regulations) says you do it; you keep within the TSR. But if you push someone to run faster than he can and he collapses, and it is found that he had an undetected condition after the fact and the person, commander or even the fellow servicemen feel that he can be sued – not protected, how many commanders do you think will encourage their unit to train harder?”
The Defence Minister said that Singaporeans should accept the “reality” of a training and that injuries or death are no fault of the government and Singapore army:
“This is a reality we face; there are inherent risks and I think we struck a good balance between maintaining very high safety standards, and I think that Section 14 provides us that confidence for our commanders to train realistically.”
In April 2012, National Service (NS) serviceman Dominique Sarron Lee died after his army unit used more smoke grenade than the legal limit allowed. His family tried to sue the Singapore government but the Singapore courts disallowed the suit and ruled in the government’s favour. The Singapore government attempted to claim exorbitant legal costs from Dominique’s family initially, but waived the legal costs only after online news media slam the Singapore government for bullying the family.
Singapore is a dictatorship under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who often claim that his government is incorruptible. The current administration is also the most expensive political officer holders in history and around the world, with a Minister getting paid S$1.1 million a year.