Aloysius Pang Attended A 2-Day Refresher Course A Year Before The Incident

It has nearly been 3 weeks since the tragic passing of 28-year-old actor Aloysius Pang on 23 Jan.

Speaking in Parliament for the first time since Mr Pang’s demise, Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen provided updates on the circumstances that the incident occurred under, as well as more information about the ongoing investigation.

Everyone in the cabin was properly trained

The Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer (SSPH) cabin, where the incident occurred, measures 2.3m in height, 2.44m in length, and 2.64m in width revealed Dr Ng.

The cabin is divided in the middle by a gun barrel, which needs to be lowered during maintenance operations.

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At the time of the incident, Mr Pang was accompanied by 2 other servicemen in the cabin. All 3 of them, including Mr Pang, had attended proper training prior to the maintenance.

The late Mr Pang, in particular, had attended a 2-day refresher Maintenance Vocation Training for the SSPH back in Feb 2018.

3 “safe positions” in the cabin

Dr Ng explained that in both ‘elevated’ and ‘standby’ positions, there were 3 “safe positions”, on both sides of the gun barrel.

This can be seen in the illustration below.

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Left of the gun barrel is a space for 2 personnel measuring 1.55m in width. There’s also a space measuring 0.9m for 1 other personnel on the right of the barrel.

When the gun is lowered, the barrel’s rear gets elevated slowly and ends roughly 10cm below the cabin’s roof. Thus, no one should be standing behind the barrel when the gun is being lowered.

Unfortunately, Mr Pang was caught between the gun barrel and the cabin interior when the gun was lowered, sustaining “crush injuries”.

Nothing fundamentally wrong with gun’s mechanics

After the incident, the SAF conducted inspection works on its fleet of SSPHs.

However, it found that there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the gun’s mechanics that could potentially endanger maintenance crews.

Repeating MINDEF’s statement on 30 Jan, Dr Ng also said that no injuries have been reported since the armoured vehicle’s introduction in 2003 prior to the incident this January.

Decision to press criminal charges to be confirmed

Dr Ng also announced that the Special Investigation Branch (SIB) from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will also be investigating the incident.

This is in addition to the Committee of Inquiry convened on 25 Jan to look into the incident.

Once the SIB concludes its investigations, a decision will be made to decide if any servicemen are to be charged for criminal or military offences in a military court.

Zero training fatalities is possible

Dr Ng also said that he is “deeply sorry” on behalf of MINDEF for the 4 deaths that occurred in the past 17 months.

Despite that, Dr Ng is confident that the SAF is capable of turning things around.

As proof, Dr Ng made reference to the fact that there were zero training fatalities between 2013 and 2016.

This, in his opinion, had much to do with the safety measures implemented in the aftermath of the 4 SAF training fatalities in 2012.

Thus in his words,

If we put our minds and efforts to achieve zero training fatalities, it can be achieved.

We hope that would once again be the case. After all, every Singaporean son lost is simply one too many.

There has to be a way to balance safety while training our soldiers, and ensuring that they are well-equipped to perform at their best when they defend our country.

Featured image from Deagel and Channel NewsAsia.