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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

News Reports

Seeking answers

The mother of Dominique Sarron Lee has put up a petition asking parents to join her in asking for greater accountability on the death of her son and to call for more measures to safeguard our young men.
Today published it yesterday and included some comforting noises from Mindef. Her main contention was his death could have been prevented. He was asthmatic, yet had to be on some exercise involving smoke grenades.
According to Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen answering questions in Parliament: PTE Lee was noted to have a history of asthma during pre-enlistment screening on 4th January 2011 with his last reported asthma attack more than three years prior to enlistment. Based on the SAF medical classification system which is devised in consultation with leading senior medical specialists from the public and private healthcare sectors.
NS men with well-controlled asthma are given a PES grading of A or B and certified fit for military training. Based on SAF’s medical records, PTE Lee did not report sick for any asthmatic attacks in the five-month period after enlistment until this incident.
The concurrent investigations will examine all the facts to determine the cause of death, and if the asthma or smoke grenades were contributory factors. Smoke grenades have been commonly used for many years during military training and the SAF has not had any similar incident in the past. Sir, we will have to await the conclusive findings of these investigations to determine the cause and measures to be taken arising for these two specific cases.
I note that doctors have drawn in to decide the medical classification. Maybe they should be re-looked? Anyway, I don’t know enough to comment on this. What I do want to know is the outcome of the investigations. I don’t think Mindef releases its inquiries into deaths as a matter of course. And the media usually lays off – or forgets? – because they seem to take so long. Have to wait for police report. Coroner’s report and so forth. Unless the circumstances are unusual, like commandos being dunked to death or some soldier gets run over in camp, then the public gets the full works.
I think it’s time Mindef opens its books on past deaths, not just Dominique’s when it is finally completed. I mean, are the inquiries open for reporting? I know it is the case for Coroner’s Court and it’s for the media to be alert to the timings of the case because I doubt if Mindef would do the alerting….Even if Mindef inquiries are closed door, there’s little reason to not make the results public. I’m sure all parents want to know how the young men died and if steps were taken to prevent a recurrence. General statements on the importance of safety etc are not enough. Transparency is key.

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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