Defence Minister Explains NSF Liu Kai’s Death In Bionix Collision With Land Rover

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen has gone on record to explain the tragic circumstances of NSF Liu Kai’s recent demise in a written Parliamentary statement on Monday (19 Nov).

Here’s a summary of what the investigation has uncovered so far.

Bionix “partially mounted” Land Rover

On 3 Nov, Corporal First Class Liu Kai (CFC Liu) was driving a Land Rover housing a trainer involved in an Armour exercise.

Source

The Land Rover remained stationary behind a Bionix Vehicle as part of the drill.

Source

As the Bionix responded to a “simulated enemy encounter”, it reversed accordingly to avoid “enemy fire”.

However, the Bionix “reversed into the Land Rover” and “partially mounted” the vehicle.

Although the trainer remained unhurt, CFC Liu Kai “sustained injuries”.

As an on-site medic attended to him, training was “immediately halted”. An ambulance from the SAF and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) were “activated” and arrived “soon after” to help CFC Liu.

Within 25 minutes of the incident, Mr Liu “succumbed to his injuries” and passed away.

Were safety protocols followed?

Minister Ng addressed numerous questions fielded by other MPs and netizens.

  1. Were safety protocols followed?
  2. Were the Bionix driver and crew aware of the Land Rover behind?
  3. Was the reversal conducted safely?
  4. What was the physical state of participants during the exercise?
  5. Was there mechanical malfunction of the vehicles involved?
  6. Did officers and commanders perform their responsibilities?

He stated that the Committee of Inquiry and ongoing Police investigations would “fully examine” them and a “full account” would be given to Parliament once they are complete.

Safety timeout has been lifted

As reported earlier, a “safety timeout” was conducted in lieu of the incident. Minister Ng revealed that training doctrines and safety processes were reviewed during the process.

He added that “safety management plans” were granted “particular attention”, especially for high-risk activities like:

  • Live-firing
  • Training with vehicles
  • Training involving military platforms

Drills to refresh the training of operators involved were also conducted to ensure everyone was well-prepared to “carry out their assigned tasks”.

As of 8 Nov, the timeout has been lifted and training has been resumed.

2 combat vehicular incidents since 2017

Minister Ng stressed that there were no other combat vehicular incidents which resulted in serious injury in recent years.

Apart from CFC Liu Kai’s incident, and last September’s deadly vehicular incident involving the late Third Sergeant (3SG) Gavin Chan — both cases proving fatal to the soldiers involved.

Striving for zero training fatalities

The SAF will strive to ensure “zero training fatalities”, but Dr Ng added that the cooperation of all soldiers would be required for this.

In his own words,

The SAF will continue in its efforts to instil a strong safety culture to achieve zero training fatalities – which can only be achieved if every soldier has an ingrained concern for the well-being of himself and his fellow soldiers.

Mr Ng shared that an “External Review Panel on Combat Vehicle Safety” will be convened by the SAF to prevent similar cases in the future.

The panel will comprise of experts from outside SAF, and they will conduct a thorough review of the policies and measures surrounding “combat vehicle training safety”.

Condolences to the bereaved family

The investigations into CFC Liu Kai’s untimely death are far from over.

In the months to come, we expect more unanswered questions regarding the incident to be addressed.

We can only hope that this will bring Liu Kai’s family some measure of peace in this difficult time.

Once again, MS News extends our sincerest condolences to the bereaved family.

Also read:

5 NSF Deaths That Sparked A Committee Of Inquiry & The One That Didn’t

Featured image from Army Technology, The Straits Times via Liu Kai’s Family & MINDEF.