Photo of NSF funeral from Mediacorp

Another conscript died from military training.

Safety protocols? In place. Medical attention? In place. An investigation is currently ongoing as to whether if the officers were following protocols. Why is this even a question actually?

Power harassment and bullying, that is why. It is deeply entrenched in military practices because of the caste system, where the lower ranks like Private Dave Lee are treated as slaves. SAF is notorious for abusing conscripts under the guise they called “training”. In the Singapore army, anything can result in incarceration. The officers often threaten to “charge” conscripts at their fancy, knowing fully that the military trial is behind their back.

After hearing about the news of a lowly-Private conscript dying during training, hundreds of accounts of power harassment flooded forums each telling their own encounters with Singapore conscription. In most cases, higher-ranked officers would blatantly abuse conscripts like forcing them to download a government application on their phone or face confinement. Some cases are illegal with officers blatantly ignoring safety protocols like a Medical Officer refusing to endorse a medical certificate or trainers ignoring conscripts’ medical status.

The end result is having too many deaths in a peacetime army (this is a list of the NS deaths I recorded in 2008, which sent me to 5 days in the detention barracks).

Dave Lee’s death would not be the last, and don’t expect any accountability from the SAF either. In a 2016 landmark case over the death of NSF Dominique Lee, the family was disallowed to sue the military. This High Court ruling signalled that the SAF can be reckless and not accountable to anyone. This legal immunity also further embolden power harassment and bullying against conscripts, who are mostly uneducated or misinformed about their human rights.

Singaporeans should question whether such power harassment is relevant to military training today, and also rethink about conscription National Service. Given the technological advancement to date, a few airstrikes and a simple Google Map is enough to take out Singapore. Since conscripted foot soldiers are irrelevant to today’s warfare, Singaporeans should wisen up and abolish NS.

Alex Tan
STR Editor