Monday, November 05, 2018

Pay an adequate compensation for NSF and NS reservist for death and injury

There were several deaths of NSF during training.

Are the deaths excessive, relative to the number of soldiers that are trained?

Were they caused by negligence of the officers who were responsible for the training? Is there a culture of disregard for the safety of the trainees?

Some people think that each death is one too many.

I do not share this view. Accidents do happen. We cannot be over cautious to the extent of hampering the training or operations.

Who should be responsible for the deaths?

a) The officers directly supervising the training?
b) The military commanders higher up the chain?
c) The ministers in the defense ministry?

A committee of inquiry is being held for the recent death. But this involves only one event.

Should we have a committee of inquiry to look into the bigger issue - is there disregard for the safety of the NSF?

All these questions will take a long time to reach an answer. And the answer will still be inconclusive. It is a difficult issue.

There is one action that can be taken that will address most of the complaints.

The govt should give an adequate compensation for each NSF or NS reservists who is injured or dies while under compulsory service.

What is adequate?

I carried out a vote in the wisdom of the crowd. The majority consider the compensation to be $1 million.

I think that this is too much. I prefer a lower compensation. I prefer a sum of $300,000 for death, and a proportionate amount according to the degree of injury or disability.

This would represent 10 years of earning based on $2,500 a month.

Financial compensation is not a good consolation for the loss of a loved one. But it is better than $5,000, right?

I know that this sum is not adequate to replace the potential earning of a person who could enter into a highly paid occupation. But it should be based on the average of all NSF and not on the potential of each individual person.

Even when adequate compensation is provided, we should still expect the Singapore Armed Forces to ensure that all necessary safety precautions are taken and that negligent training officers should be held to account. But we should avoid extreme cautious measures that hamper the training.

I now come back to the question - should the high military commanders and the ministers be held to account?

It is difficult to make this judgment based on inadequate information. A committee of inquiry should be formed to address this question. The public can make their judgment based on the findings of this COI.

At this time, I will leave it to the defense minister to decide, in his own conscience, whether he should stay in the office.

But I expect him to take action now to get the govt to pay an adequate compensation.

I have suggested a sum of $300,000. Maybe he can justify a different figure?

Tan Kin Lian

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