Mindef should issue an apology and pay fair compensation to the family of Dominique Lee. Stop rubbing salt into the wounds of Domique’s loved ones with half truths and motherhood statements. Period.
Between 1994 and 1998, there were 21 deaths attributable to training. This decreased to 16 deaths in the following 5-year period. The breakdown is given in Teo Chee Hean’s parliamentary reply **. (Read David L K See’s TOC article)
How much compensation has been paid to the families of SAF’s victims? Rest assured they amounted to peanuts because Mindef applies the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA) to determine compensation for deaths and injuries due to service.
Did the government legislate the application of WICA knowing full well compensation takes into account the employee’s average monthly salary and that the payout is likely to be peanuts for an NSF?
In Dominique’s case, I believe MINDEF has offered a derisory amount in compensation based on a private’s allowance. It is unfair because it involves negligence.
Under WICA, MINDEF has the right and is likely to have paid the minimum compensation. This is because it has the upper hand: ordinary citizens do not have the means to engage in costly legal appeals.
Where NSFs are concerned, WICA should be thrown out of the window. Compensation should be uniform across the ranks, ie every NSF should be treated as equal and not be discriminated based on rank.
Instead of complicating a simple issue of death compensation, MINDEF should have taken up insurance policies for every NSF. Lawsuits are really unproductive and insurance is a win-win situation.
Every NSF should be insured for at least $250,000, if not $500,000, in high cost Singapore. Under Aviva’s “SAF Group Term Life Insurance”, a coverage of $1,000,000 costs $4.21 a day or about $1 a day for a $250,000 coverage.
Should MINDEF decide to insure every father’s mother’s son (group coverage), individual premiums should cost less than $1 a day for a $250,000 coverage in the event of death. Mindef’s total bill may come to less than $10 million a year, a drop in the ocean from the perspective of our $13.3 BILLION defence budget.
Such an insurance policy comes with other benefits such as death due to accident not related to SAF training, permanent disability benefits, etc.
Talk is cheap and MINDEF/ministers can continue talking about the sadness and regret of the whole SAF family or insist that all necessary support has been given to victims. At the end of the day it really means nothing to Dominique’s family and others who have been SHORTCHANGED by the government.
Death and injury cannot be totally prevented and the logical and only thing to do is to ensure adequate insurance coverage for every NSF. This will go a long way to ease the burden on family members of NSFs who are injured or died during their service to our country.
Is the life of an NSF not worth $1 a day?
RAdm Teo Chee Hean:
MINDEF has compiled the figures for number of injuries, and deaths due to training for the last 10 years. Over the past 10 years, an average of 3.7 deaths each year is attributable to training. Between 1994 to 1998, there were 21 deaths attributable to training. There were 16 deaths between 1999 to Oct 2003. Between 1994 to Oct 2003, there were 3,703 cases of injuries from all causes. This figure includes injuries not caused by training. For 2003, there were 256 injury cases of which 196 were training related. MINDEFs database captures data on hospitalisation since 2000. Based on our records for the past 4 years, an average of 8.6 servicemen were hospitalised each month due to medical conditions attributable to training. The available data does not differentiate between hospitalisation for periods of less than as compared to more than 3 days.