Written by Uyen Le-Khuc

What happened?

Last weekend, the funeral the late full-time national serviceman, Dave Lee, was held at Mandai Crematorium, with an attendance of almost 900 people. At the wake, his mother called for an immediate end to “tekan” sessions in the military. She expressed that she did not want her son’s death to be in vain, as it was alleged by an anonymous soldier in his platoon that commanders had recklessly held a turnout session, compromising on the soldiers’ rest, the night before the fast march in which Lee collapsed. According to the allegations, the commanders even laughed at Lee when he collapsed, and did not render help until much later, believing he was putting on an act to get out of the exercise. Lee then spent nearly 2 weeks in the Intensive Care Unit but did not survive.

In response, Brigadier General Kenneth Liow had penned a letter to Channel NewsAsia  detailing that heat injury was common in the military, and that measures have been put in place to prevent and treat heat injury. He asserted that all these measures were taken for Dave Lee.

A Committee of Inquiry has been convened to investigate fully the factors leading to the death of Dave Lee. 

What is to come out of this?

Dave Lee’s death has riveted the nation: one death is truly one too many. Singaporeans have been weighing in on social media, angry at the carelessness of Dave Lee’s Commanders and the “tekan” culture.  Many saw parallels the death of Private Dominique Sarron Lee, who also passed away in 2012 due to an allergic reaction after his commanders to follow protocol during a smoke grenade exercise.

This begs the question: Is the “tekan” culture to be blamed? Should SAF be held responsible? Another commentary written by Benjamin Lim on Rice Media instead pinned fault on the “chao keng” attitude of soldiers that leads to their commanders’ general cynicism against their purported injuries. However, it is certain that if commanders gave their men the benefit of the doubt, there is a less likely chance of death.

(Featured photo from TODAYonline)

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