SAF training incident: Friends mourn ‘cheerful, hardworking and easygoing’ NSF

SAF training incident: Friends mourn ‘cheerful, hardworking and easygoing’ NSF

SINGAPORE, Nov 5 — Cheerful, hardworking and easygoing.

This is how some friends of Corporal First Class (CFC) Liu Kai, a full-time national serviceman who died during a training exercise on Saturday, remember him.

The 22-year-old, a transport operator from the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) Transport Hub West, was participating in a field training exercise at Jalan Murai, near Lim Chu Kang, when a Bionix armoured vehicle reversed into the Land Rover he was in.

He succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead by the medical officers about 25 minutes later.

Liu’s friends said he studied at Presbyterian High School and participated in badminton and concert band co-curricular activities.

Matthew Teo, one of Liu’s fellow band members, said he was a “hardworking guy” who never missed any practice sessions, and was well-liked by his peers.

“I used to quarrel with him because (I felt) he had an attitude, but after knowing how hardworking he was as he came on his own on non-practice days to practise, I started to change the way I talked to him,” he recounted.

Undergraduate James Chiang, 21, Liu’s senior from badminton, said he was “deeply saddened” by the news.

“He was always very cheerful and actively participated in all the activities He was actively making friends.” Liu, said to be a Singapore permanent resident, hailed from China.

The incident on Saturday makes it the third National Service training-related death in 14 months.

CFC Dave Lee died of heat injuries following an 8km fast march in April this year, while Third Sergeant Gavin Chan was also killed in a vehicular incident in September last year during an overseas exercise in Australia.

A church friend of Liu’s for the past 10 years, who did not wish to be named, echoed that he “was always smiling when he greeted or spoke to everyone in church”.

Liu’s secondary school classmate Royden Teh said the older boy “never really got angry”.

“He was easygoing he was very strong in his academic (achievements),” the 19-year-old student recounted.

TODAY understands that Liu has two elder sisters. At Liu’s wake on Sunday, his family declined to speak to the media.

He was posthumously accorded the rank of CFC.

An Army-wide safety timeout has been declared and an independent Committee of Inquiry will be convened to investigate the circumstances leading to the incident, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Saturday. Police investigations are ongoing.

In May this year, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a ministerial statement in parliament that Singapore must strive for “zero training deaths”.

Dr Ng said the SAF saw, on average, about one NS training related death annually over the last 20 years, though there was no training related NS deaths between 2013 and 2016. — TODAY