Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said that although the COI has completed its investigations, it does not mean the case has been closed.
SINGAPORE — Two months after a Committee of Inquiry (COI) was convened to investigate the death of actor Aloysius Pang, it concluded that the incident was caused by safety lapses committed by all three national servicemen — including Pang — who were in the howitzer at the time.
In the wake of Pang’s death, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will also implement new safety measures, including a “think-check-do” drill before any maintenance tasks and a mandatory annual safety awareness test for all servicemen.
The measures were recommended by the COI and the External Review Panel on Singapore Armed Forces Safety (ERPSS).
Disclosing the COI findings and recommendations in Parliament on Monday (May 6), Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said: “It is sad but undeniable that the direct causes determined by the COI that resulted in the death of Corporal First Class (National Service) Aloysius Pang were preventable had there been compliance to safety rules.”
“It was not for lack of knowledge of these rules or inexperience of personnel working on the howitzer gun.”
During his 30-minute ministerial statement, Dr Ng brought members of the House through the sequence of events leading to the incident on Jan 19.
Pang, who was on overseas reservist training in New Zealand, died four days later from severe sepsis — a serious complication of an infection arising from his severe chest and abdominal injuries.
The interior cabin of the Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer (SSPH). Photo: Nadarajan Rajendran/TODAY
Dr Ng said that although the COI has completed its investigations, it does not mean the case has been closed. Under military law, the SAF’s Special Investigation Branch (SIB) has jurisdiction to investigate Pang’s death.
The SIB has “nearly completed its investigations” and will report directly to the chief military prosecutor, who will determine if any servicemen are to be prosecuted under the military court for offences relating to Pang’s death.
Dr Ng said: “Servicemen under investigation are reassigned to administrative duties and if found to have been culpable, will be charged and punished accordingly.”
Following his speech, six Members of Parliament (MPs) rose to ask supplementary questions, including if the COI revealed why the servicemen did not follow standard operating procedures and whether there was a time pressure to complete maintenance and if this was a contributory factor.