May 26, 2010

"But I Didn't Tell A Lie ... I Just Didn't Tell The Whole Truth" - The SAF

In March, an SAF training accident occurred. A few days ago, the Straits Times reported it:
    ST May 25, 2010
    SAF commando shot by Thai villager
    By Jermyn Chow & Lester Kok

    A COMMANDO on a night training exercise in Thailand was accidentally shot by a local villager out hunting.

    First-Sergeant Woo Teng Hai, a regular from the 1st Commando Battalion, suffered head injuries in the incident on March 13.

    The 25-year-old serviceman was hit by pellets from a shotgun, the Defence Ministry told The Straits Times yesterday. He is now on medical leave.

    Mindef spokesman Darius Lim said 1st Sgt Woo was taking part in a 'routine training exercise' in a 'designated training area' in Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok.

But the story was not complete. It was missing a very material piece of information.

Another SAF servicement had been shot. He is a 19-year-old NSF. More than two months after the accident, the shotgun pellets are still lodged in his cheekbones and shoulder.

How did these facts now come to light? Did Mindef tell the public about it? Nope. Mindef kept very quiet about it. Instead it was an unnamed relative of the NSF who called the Straits Times, to report it.
    ST May 26, 2010
    Another SAF soldier shot by Thai farmer too
    By Jermyn Chow & Lester Kok

    NOT one but two Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers were hurt while out on a night military exercise in Thailand in March.

    A local farmer out hunting accidentally shot Private J. Pritheery Raj, a full-time national serviceman (NSF). Two shotgun pellets are still lodged in his cheekbones and his right shoulder.

    The 19-year-old is now on medical leave.

    News of this second shooting surfaced after a relative of Pte Raj called The Straits Times on reading its report that a villager had fired his shotgun at First Sergeant Woo Teng Hai. The regular commando is said to have been blinded in his right eye.

    The Defence Ministry, which had confirmed the accidental shooting of 1st Sgt Woo on Monday, admitted yesterday that another soldier had also been hurt in the same incident.
It was a cover-up. Exposed by the NSF's relative.

This is a simple example of why Singaporeans do not trust the SAF. All too often, the SAF just does not behave with integrity.

My only hope is that the SAF will treat both servicemen - the regular and the NSF - fairly, and give them proper compensation.

And not treat them in the the way they had treated ex-NSF serviceman Lawrence Leow.

67 comments:

Anonymous said...

and there are idiots out there who believe in NS still ....

Alex said...

From this cover up, Mindef made it seems like only the accidents of regulars are worth reporting. Regulars are insured for large sums. NSFs are not, and Mindef is afraid of any public outcry for compensation.

Dom Z said...

Why is it labelled a cover up? Is there some requirement to report such things to the press? Is there any evidence that MINDEF took active steps to suppress the information?

Why isn't the Straits Times not brought to task? Did the ST ask MINDEF if there were similar cases and MINDEF said no? If that happened, maybe there was a cover-up. But do we even know how deeply the ST probed?

Anonymous said...

I guess if the family don't speak up, maybe got still a chance of early discharge - he got pellets lodged in his skull, and SAF did not report it....

Anonymous said...

Cover up? Why else do they have SAF only wards in some hospitals.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that there is so little transparency.

If Mindef were more transparent, this would eventually result in higher safety standards (as Mindef would be subject to a higher level of public scrutiny and accountability).

Oops ... That must be why Mindef doesn't want to be more transparent.

Anonymous said...

"Is there any evidence that MINDEF took active steps to suppress the information?"

Aiyoh, this Dom Z person, so naive. Cannot tahan lah.

Anonymous said...

National service cannot be seen as being a liability, an undertaking where the life of a parent's child is seen to be at risk.

Otherwise, National service may be seen in a less favourable light given the dearth of benefits.

Anonymous said...

Ever wondered why most of the reported training mishaps involved only regulars? Isn't it a little strange considering the NSF/regular ratio?

Anonymous said...

>>Asked why the shootings were not reported earlier, the spokeswoman said it was usual practice for the ministry not to report on military training accidents

WTF...u die yr biz..thank god i survived

Anonymous said...

That farmer must be really good at accidentally shooting two NSFs in a row.

Maybe he isn't a farmer.

The said...

/// Anonymous said...
That farmer must be really good at accidentally shooting two NSFs in a row.

Maybe he isn't a farmer. ///

Do you know what a shot gun is?

Anonymous said...

God knows how many NSFs have been injured, maimed or killed, over the years .... without the public knowing.

Anonymous said...

Hmm...Do you really think this is the first shooting incident? Think again....

Frederick said...

I think the reason why the newspaper in the straits time did not report the details is that, unlike tabloids, those journalists might have been trying to avoid sensationalizing the information (i.e. pellets lodged in his shoulders and right arms). I think this kind of information could be quite "graphic" for the public to take? It's like describing how a kid look like after a third degree burn. Yea, screw the rules, but well, I couldn't agree more that MINDEF should be transparent about this through other means of media because this also concerns public's awareness. And the public do have the right to know what happened to the welfare of our own citizens. I suspect this is another propaganda attempting to keep citizens in the dark making them believe in the effectiveness of NS like a religion. We are not stupid after all, just stupidly passive.

Anonymous said...

Frederick: "I think the reason why the newspaper in the straits time did not report the details is that, unlike tabloids, those journalists might have been trying to avoid sensationalizing the information"




But the 148th media will sensationalise until it puts the Sun to shame when it comes to news on Opposition. You see, it is not call the "nation building" press for nothing lol.

Anonymous said...

I believe in NS..call me an idot if you like.
It is neccessary to defend our nation. It is all those foreigners who become PR or Citizen that don't need to do NS and still enjoy most of the perks of a citizen that I am against,ofcourse, the Govt is only now doing something about it.

I agree, that the Govt needs to make sure that NSF has adequate insurance cover.It is such a shame that Lawrence Leow only receive $500 a month for the permanent disability that he will have for the rest of his life.
All those civil servants and govt MPs in the defence portfolio must lack lots of empathy and moral courage to do what is right.Cushy jobs breed complacency and total disaffection with human-kind.

chengguan said...

telling partial truth is no diff from telling lie. we should shoot that guy in his ass and tell the judge that we did not shoot him in the head!

by the way, glad to see mr wang blogging again!

Anonymous said...

NS involves the citizens. It should be mandatory to report ALL accidents/cases. The public has a right to know. This is exactly what happens when you the ruling party is all powerful. A fundamental weakness of anything human is absolute corruption goes hand in hand with absolute power. in all aspects of governance. No strong opposition in parliament for check and balance.

It is possible to impeach a US president who did wrong, but utterly impossible even to point out a shortcoming of a single govt policy or mistake here!

Anonymous said...

We do not know what has actually happened. It could be Mindef not reporting it. It could be the press not wanting to alarm Singaporeans.
One thing for sure, no amount of comments here can reveal anything. The system simply does not work this way.
You can write to the press but they may not publish it if it is not to their interest or parties they are aligned to.
The only solution is to have more opposition parties MPs in parliament so they can raise our questions instead of the wayang show we are seeing now.
Simple, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't trust any Singapore government linked agencies particularly Mindef.

It is disgusting to learn the incidents through the reading of newspapers.....

Anonymous said...

Mr Goh Keng Swee must be very sad if he knows what has become of the SAF.

Anonymous said...

The repost says the incident happened in March.

This is END MAY.

SAF admin is so inefficient to need TWO MONTHS to be accountable to the public for an army formed by compulsory conscript? WTF.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what happens when you the ruling party is all powerful.

The link to the ruling party is weak, and I disagree on this matter.

But I would say that the SAF Management is not in a healthy state. If these are people who will later be in Management positions in GLCs, TLCs, Ministries, etc upon "graduation" through the SAF old boys network, I cannot imagine the rubbbish we will get in our civil service and the entire Singapore system.

PM Lee, you praised Dr Goh for daring to slice things apart to put them right. Would you show the same strength and committment to re-shape this very bloated and unhealthy SAF Management yourself?

Anonymous said...

maybe we should ask the farmer to train our NSF. if a farmer can take down 2 of our soldiers (one being a commando), I wonder how effective is our training in the first place. Wouldn't it be cheaper to hire thai farmers for our armed forces instead of training and wasting the lives of Singaporeans?

Anonymous said...

seriously, if our armed forces is really that good, we would have news of our soldiers who accidentally injured thai farmers during training instead of the other way round.

Isabel Tan Cjinh Ping said...

Thanks for the post, Mr Wang. Eye opener for me.

Anonymous said...

So what if it is a shot gun?

It's a joke dude. Relax.

Or do you want to argue about why the farmer is carrying a shot gun? Or what or how badly our men are trained.

Anonymous said...

@ "The" who asked, "Do you know what a shot gun is?"

Anonymous said...

Maybe the farmer is part of the training. Reality training.

'Mat said...

Sinkapoor is one huge cover-up!

Anonymous said...

Recently, the wife of a teacher complained to the Straits' Times about the long working hours of her husband and his colleagues.

This sparked off a furious debate on the poor working conditions of teachers at http://sg.yfittopostblog.com/2010/05/16/are-singapore-teachers-overworked/
There are over 3000 comments and counting.

MOE's official response was; Please don't complain anymore to the press. If you wish to complain, please complain to either your supervisor or to the teachers' intranet forum 'MyForum'.
Case closed.

It seems that our entire civil service has a culture of sweeping its dirt under the carpet. Image takes precedence over doing the integrity.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Mindef should pay for the SAF group term life insurance.

They can force us to pay for the stupid Pioneer magazine instead of having compulsory insurance in place.

Anonymous said...

If I was a farmer belonging to the Red shirt camp, I will be shooting at anything wearing an army uniform that moves - to me - they are all formthe blue camp

LCP said...

Maybe our NS boys should have returned fire. After all, this is self-defence when you are attacked.
Anyway, Mindef should be transparent and report the incidents in full. These boys are some parents' sons and they have a right to know the cause of their sons' injuries.
I have four sons, all of whom have served their NS. My third son is presently in Taiwan for his 2-week reservist training and I am worried about such incidents.

Anonymous said...

That's why when you are in the SAF, you must try to be smart (or act stupid?) to avoid to being trained in Thailand or better still don't be a commando.

If you take NS seriously you will die. Because they do not offer adequate protection and compensation to soldiers. All in the lofty objective of sacrifice for the nation. Sacrifice also means you will not be protected or compensated the same as in other sectors.

Anonymous said...

The 1st instinct of the PAP government and its agencies is to cover up when something wrong happens. it was the same in the Mat Selamat debacle.

Rush said...

in a perhaps similar but unrelated note (about not telling the whole story)...

a straits times report (page 3? yesterday, thursday 27 May) highlighted lapses in MDA, Mindef and MOE cleaning contracts discovered by the auditor general

but a lapse in the PMO/PSD, outlined in the AGO report, was.... not mentioned.

this finding in the AGO report was titled "Serious lapse in procurement". you can find it on page 12 para 29

in my personal opinion, for the AGO to use the term "serious lapse", it generally means just that - a serious lapse - relative to other kinds of lapses that made it into the report.

if you search for the word "serious", it only appears 3 times - and twice in connection with this lapse in the PSD.

so i'm perplexed why this serious lapse was not highlighted in the straits times article. maybe it had something to do with paying $450K for.... souvenirs (lol)

Anonymous said...

i am very proud to say i keng all the way and siam ippt and reservist hahaha! u give your best for saf is u die your business, thats SG for you under the uncaring PAP regime. And most foreign-real-talents wont be that dumb to ask their sons to serve NS.

recruit ong

Anonymous said...

frankly speaking i don't give a damn. they are just expandable. we have many foreigners who became citizens who are willingly, so who cares? singaporean, so what?

Anonymous said...

No wonder complaints about NS men being short-changed c.f. women and FTs have gone unheeded.

So many of you guys do not actually take NS seriously. Keng some more. How to have credibility when talking about sacrifices?

Huh? Huh?

Anonymous said...

On May 25, when ST reported incident, it is probably due to a statement released by MINDEF. Otherwise, ST won't be privy to such info.

Why did MINDEF only released info that only 1 serviceman, who is a regular, is injured and chose to hide the info that another serviceman, a NSF, was also injured in the SAME incident ?

This discrimination shows that MINDEF is afraid to release any info to the public for serious incidences that happened to NSFs.

A while back, there was a heated discussion over NSFs insurance coverage. I'm sure it has some bearings on their decision to hide the injury to an NSFs but chose to release the info for the regular.

Ah Gu said...

Whatever the reason, a cover-up is a cover-up, and a half-truth is a lie.

Anonymous said...

The question is: will any of the ministers allow this to happen to their own son(s)?

Anonymous said...

Anon above,

You idiot or what? Of course not lah. You never heard of the white horse list meh?

The commander must also be an idiot to allow it to happen. They know the consequences.

SMS said...

Why only now release the information ..... i think must be somebody who knows that MINDEF will hit the roof if it goes into the papers.

Ayyway, i personally think that the safety standards has not improved since my time. Let's just convert the army to high tech. by sending drones and robots to the battle field instead of humans.

SMS said...

WHITE HORSE not just for the army ... it applies also to every aspect of life in SIN. Education, buying condo, priority in parking etc. If you have the link ... why not use it.

I do not see anything wrong with being WHITE HORSE.... I am not one however... but if you are born in their shoes YOU WILL LIKE IT.

Anonymous said...

SAF? They never take us NS people as human. They USE us for their promotion, their performance, bonus. Then when they finish their regular and get to senior position outside by the SAF network, they sabo your promotion because they just parachute in while you can promotion.

And these SAF people in the senior outside positions let in the foreigners by support FT policy to screw citizen backside after they used you to get their promotion and bonus.

They don't care you need to earn money to pay tax to pay their salary and support your family. They will make sure they cover their backside ask you go IPPT and RT not care you need to compete foreigners. And if you finish your 10 reservist before 35 they will still screw you by not MR you even though they should.

Support SAF is loyal to country?

NO WAY.

Anonymous said...

Hey it's election year. The deadline is next year jan but it's probably this year, so unless someone dies, the image of maimed, dying saf men in a country without war shouldn't be in the goldfish memory public's minds. Just watch the goodies will be coming in soon, and nobody will remember about this. Injured soldiers? WHO CARES? As long as they have money for us. Just show me the money

Anonymous said...

NS is a good excuse for cheap labour at the expense of the citizens. They can afford billions to buy equipment but pay pittance to compensate for injuries. During my time there were so many accidents and deaths and I wondered how these NSmen were compensated. There was an NS corporal due to ROD to enter U. Sitting at the rear of the truck which hit a curb and overturned he was paralysed after being pinned under. His life and future has been shattered forever. I am sure there are lots of such cases and it would be good if someone takes it upon themselves to record the negative side of NS. NS began in 1949 and most of us who had served are still alive to tell our story.

Anonymous said...

It is a disadvantage to be born a male in Singapore, unless

you are a white horse

you know how to "keng"

your family emigrate before your NS age.

Anonymous said...

SAF rules are outdated. SAF regulars, especially the officers and scholars are TOO overpaid.

PM LEE, YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO.

辰原 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'm stationed in Thailand. This story was published on 26 May on Bangkok Post in a small column stating only 1 injury. No mention of the other "incident". Mindef is well known for covering up "accidents". There were many cases of accidents involving death during my time in NS but I don't believe any of these stories were ever published by our one and only Straits Times. Mindef is good at sending the boys to DB though. Drivers being caught driving more than 60kmh (during my time) by the MP, boom, 7 days DB! Sitting beside a sleepy Thai driver during exercise in Thailand and the truck ran straight into a house killing the guy? Sorry, my condolences, here's $5,000 from the Government and a Singapore flag.

Agagooga said...

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

Anonymous said...

I guess this wasn't reported because... They weren't dead. Just injured.

Anonymous said...

This is the commandos unit we're talking about.

Has it occured to none of you that the training itself is classified, and that by reporting the incident it would have been detrimental to the others still there?

Seriously. Stop passing judgement on something you all have no idea, and are seeing only a very small part of the whole picture of.

Anonymous said...

Your kind of comment can only fool people who haven't actually been in the SAF. Unfortunately, this is a conscript nation, so there's hardly anyone you can fool.

If there is no military security reason to stop the SAF from revealing that one regular was shot, then there is no military security reason to stop the SAF from revealing that an NSF was also shot.

By the way, most of us are not from commando units. From our personal experiences, we also know of NSFs who got killed or badly injured, and about how these incidents were never disclosed to the public.

"Whole picture" ... my ass.

Anonymous said...

For those that are about to serve NS soon, blame your parents for their blind faith in the system.
For those who have served NS, think about your next generation and if you want your kids to go through what you go through.
NS is an anachronism and so is being Singaporean. Foreigners taking PR here are smart enough to make sure that their sons have an option to return to their home country.

Anonymous said...

You speak of foolery when you are the one idiot who actually knows nuts about how the commandos function. Really. Stop making yourself look anymore stupid than you already are.

NS is the only thing keeping the pansies we call "Singaporean boys" from actually turning into little girls.

Anonymous said...

WaaAahahhh! Commando SOOOOOO sensitive, ahhh!

NSF get shot, cannot tell. But regular get shot, can tell.

Soooo logical, man!

I guess you didn't read Mindef's latest report on this. They ADMITTED that they were WRONG not to disclose the NSF's accident.

(But of course, they didn't really admit it lah. They just said that they were wrong not to disclose it SOONER ....

.... So they can give the impression that they were going to disclose it anyway, but that the news went public before they could do so

... Aiyah, pian gee na.).

Anonymous said...

>> You speak of foolery when you are the one idiot who actually knows nuts about how the commandos function. Really. Stop making yourself look anymore stupid than you already are.

You do realise you have not actually provided any argument, nor any kind of evidence to support your point? At all? This is the intellectual equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "na na na I can't hear you".

And how exactly would reporting the incident be detrimental? Don't tell me all the directly affected parties (i.e. the commandos) don't already know about it, and on top of that somehow manage to find a copy of ST over there to read?

But thank you for stating that injuries of NSFs are classified. In my NS, one of my bunkmates died in the bunk, but there was no news report at all in the ST. Classified, of course. Absolutely.

Anonymous said...

"NS is the only thing keeping the pansies we call "Singaporean boys" from actually turning into little girls."

oh, really?

Anonymous said...

Most of us can definitely do without NS... two or two and a half years of CPF and real pay in the working world.... Work experiences and savings... Go figure, whose money and sacrifices we're saving?

Anonymous said...

I'm involved in this year's SAF Day Parade and am claiming about $2,000 in make-up pay.

My unit has 80 NSMen involved, to form one of several contingents.

Taking $2,000 to be the average sum claimed by each of us, that's a whopping $152,000 to be paid out by Mindef! For just one contingent.

Just how much does such a parade cost EVERY YEAR? Where does the money come from? You can do the sums yourself, and then see why there are so many people so against this colossal waste of resources and manpower.

If NS is a necessity in the defence of our country, then please tell me what purpose a parade serves.

What prices NS?

What prices a man injured in an exercise? A loss of his ability to make a living? Oh, that's not such a big price to pay, right?

Sacrifice yourself honourably for the nation? Sure, but who's going to take care of you when you're injured?

Ed Harris said...

Go Sentosa and take some tourist gamblers hostage and threaten to launch some of your fart at Singapore

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117500

A group of renegade marine commandos seizes a stockpile of chemical weapons and takes over Alcatraz, with 81 tourists as hostages. Their leader, a former highly-decorated U.S. general, demands $100 million to be paid in ransom, as restitution to families of Marines who died in covert operations and were thereby denied compensation

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