The truth about the 19-year-old NSF death?

By May 3, 2018Current

TL;DR – It’s a sad day for the nation indeed.

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If you haven’t read the news, a 19-year-old full-time national serviceman (NSF) died on Monday (Apr 30), nearly two weeks after “displaying signs of heat injury” in Bedok Camp.

Following this piece of sad news, a post by our fallen soldier’s aunt started circulating on Facebook.

Truncated image of the original Facebook post

This is the full post,

Dear friends,

We are saddened by the passing of my nephew, Dave Lee. You may have seen the below post circulating in Facebook and while the truth can’t bring my nephew back, he deserves the truth to be told. I am sharing this in pain but we demand full explanation from SAF to the public, who trustingly sent their children to serve the nation. I hope you share our pain and support that SAF must release full investigation and identity of all culprits to the public. Thanks.


I am a soldier from 1 guards. One of our fellow soldier is currently in critical condition heat stroke (possibly brain dead) due to the reckless behavior of my fellow commanders. I want to bring this to light so that the commanders involved are duly punished and nothing gets hidden as part of the investigation.

Dave is still in critical condition in the hospital, and it has almost been one week since the incident. But there has been rumours that his condition has worsening .

Illegal turnout

The night before a 8km fast march (an activity considered high key) our entire recce platoon was turned out after lights out by our sergants, forcing us to bear crawl to the SOC grounds at bedok camp, doing thier usual tekan of making us roll in the sand and have water poured on us, to satisfy their own sadistic pleasure. Asa result we did not have the adequate 7 hours of rest mandated by the traning safety regulation required for our fast march the next day.

Commanders forcing trainees

During the fast march, Dave struggled to complete his fast march and was dragged by senior commanders, forcing him to finish the fast march even though he was showing signs of extreme physical exhaution.

Dave collapsed after collecting his timing chip at our company line. We saw Dave breathing frantically, going through delirium, with his tounge out and only the white in his eyes visible. he was not articulate.

inability of commanders to spot heat exhaustion

It was obvious that even to an untrained soldier, especially commanders who went to OCS / SCS, that dave was going through Heat Exhaution or even heat stroke. yet they still acted as though there as nothing severe or that he could even be acting “keng”

non-administering of ice packs / BCU / water mist

the commanders did not follow the proper protocol for a soldier in heat exhaution. His cloths were not removed, no ice pack were place at the vital heat dissapation points in his body and the medic was even blur not knowing what to do. The safety officer was nowhere to be found during this whole time and the commnders left his body under the hot sun instead of bringing it to a shaded area. it took them almost 30minutes to an hour before they even stretched him away to the medical center before he was even transported to a hospital using the Military ambulance.

Lack of seriousness towards the incident

To add insult to injury, the sergeants were just surrounding him, talking cock and laughing and cracking jokes around him, obviously thinking the soldier is trying to keng. I hope sgt Justin, ren zong, nich, ren jie and jonas is punished for this. I really hope the army safety throughly investigates this incident and punishes the people involved. Its no point doing lip service to “safety” by adding it as a core value when safety is not given heed.

if anything happens to him, i believe its the fault of the commanders who did not know eve how to administer the proper procedure for Heat Stroke, wasting vital time before his temperature reached 42deg. As well as commanders who dont understand the seriousness of the uninteruppted rest that is required as per training safety regulation, especially for high key activities.

The story shared in Miss Cecilia Yeo’s post originated from an anonymous Facebook account,

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As one who had went through NS myself (and several rounds of reservist), here are some of my personal thoughts.

Like the post suggested, a full investigation is needed for this case. Not just for the fallen solider but also for SAF. It might not be a popular opinion that I have here but I found the Facebook post rather doubtful. Not entirely because it was posted by an anonymous account. This person behind it might have done so to avoid getting into trouble, that I can understand.

But here are some things to consider too.

Are illegal turnouts common? I wouldn’t say so but as a solider from years ago, I would say that it isn’t totally unheard of either. However beyond the first point from the anonymous post, it all seems to sound rather strange to me (and my friends), who have been through and/or are currently going through national service themselves.

It is rather hard to believe that the commanders chose to neglect his conditions especially when he is just a trainee. From my personal experience, commanders are usually very concerned about the well-being of trainees and always believe that “we can train another day”. More often than not, the safety of soldiers is always the top priority. During such exercises, trainees are often reminded to hydrate themselves with many water breaks included.

Additionally, the second one says that he isn’t feeling well, care and attention will be provided immediately. There are standard SOPs in place to care for the injured soldier and his buddy will be there to make sure he is taken care of while the rest of the company continues the training.

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I’m not picking sides here but simply sharing my doubts with this one-sided account so far. Of course I sympathise greatly with the family, especially as a father myself and my heart goes out to them. Nobody needs to go through such pain.

But as a NSman, I also feel that we should refrain from speculation and not to circulate speculative messages. We should let the independent Committee of Inquiry (COI) convened to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident and I’m sure if there are people found responsible through the investigation, they will be held accountable accordingly.

It’s a sad day for the nation as we mourn the loss of a young Singaporean son.


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Smith Leong

Author Smith Leong

Social Media Trainer @ NTUC | Youth Mentor | Labour Champion | Photographer | Content Creator |

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