MINDEF and SAF will be accountable for every single NSman: Ng Eng Hen
The Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen has apologised for the recent National Service training deaths. “I am deeply sorry for the loss of four precious NSmen in the last 17 months,” said Dr Ng addressing the deaths.
Delivering a Ministerial Statement in Parliament, Dr Ng said that the Special Investigation Branch (SIB) of the Singapore Armed Forces will also conduct its own investigations on the death of the National Serviceman Aloysius Pang.
Detailing the events leading up to the accident on 19 January, Dr Ng said the late Aloysius Pang was treated on-site by an SAF medical officer before being brought to a regional trauma centre.
Dr Ng said that the findings of the ongoing investigation by the independent Committee of Inquiry (COI) will be presented in Parliament. “We owe it to CFC (NS) Pang and his family, indeed to all Singaporeans to get to the bottom of what happened, and make things right, to ensure the safety of the NS training system as a whole,” he said.
Dr Ng also emphasised the importance of NS men, to national defence. Without a strong defence, Dr Ng said that terrorists and potential aggressors could easily occupy Singapore, and the air and shipping routes in and out of Singapore could easily be blocked, as they have happened in other countries.
“This imperative of NS and our national defence does not absolve or reduce the accountability of the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) and the SAF in any way to ensure safe training. On the contrary, it compels Mindef and the SAF to do all that is humanly possible to prevent training deaths for NSmen because we are fully aware that precious sons have been entrusted to us by their families,” Dr Ng added.
Changes to Penal Code
Changes to the Singapore Penal Code will ensure that it remains relevant and up to date and to help achieve that aim, a Criminal Law Reform Bill was introduced in Parliament on Monday, 11 February 2019.
Some of the changes proposed in the Bill are:
- Repeal of marital rape immunity
- Enhance protection for vulnerable adults and young children
- Decriminalisation of attempted suicide
- Tackle emerging crime trends from advances in technology
- Rationalise the general principles, explanations and defences in the Penal Code
These proposed changes come after the Penal Code Review Committee (PCRC) completed its two-year exercise to review the laws. The PCRC submitted a total of 169 recommendations to the Government last August.
The second reading of the Criminal Law Reform Bill is expected to be in May.
Maintaining trust between doctors and patients
The Ministry of Health (MOH) does not want to see the practice of “defensive medicine” and will take steps to maintain the trust between patients, doctors, Singapore Medical Council (SMC) and MOH, said Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Lam Pin Min.
Responding to questions on a recent case of a doctor who was fined $100,000 by SMC for not telling his patient of the side effects of a common injection, Dr Lam said, “We acknowledge that the profession needs assurance on what the legal position is, and what the procedures/punishments are when disciplinary proceedings are undertaken.”
He also reiterated that that there is no need for doctors to list all side effects. “What’s important is that the doctor needs to inform the patient of complications or side effects that are relevant to the patient,” added Dr Lam.
Coming soon: Exams using digital devices
Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung revealed that students could be taking more examinations using digital devices, especially after the ministry had received positive feedback from students about introducing a few subjects for a pilot test on computer-based writing examinations.
Reiterating that the electronic exams are still some distance away, Mr Ong said that the readiness of schools and students would be taken into account.
On questions regarding arranging examinations scripts for national examinations to be marked locally, Mr Ong said that by the end of this year, marking for all GCE examinations would be shifted online and that the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board and Cambridge Assessment have been working together to mark hard-copy answer scripts electronically since 2015.
Noting that marking scripts locally would require a substantial amount of highly qualified resources, Mr Ong also added that the good reputation of the education system puts Singapore at a good position to mark papers and set exam questions.
“But I think we are where we are too because of a certain earnestness to learn from different systems around the world and to work with different credible reputable systems around the world.” He added, “Cambridge helped us, raised us to this level of international reputation, so it’s a collaboration that is still worthwhile keeping.”
Image from Minister Ng’s Facebook