Ms Hazel Poa (Non-Constituency Member): Mr Chairman, recently, the Straits Times reported on the findings of the State Coroner regarding the death of National Serviceman Dave Lee due to heatstroke, which was partially caused by delayed evacuation. I cannot profess to know the pain of parents and families who have lost their loved ones. I can only guess. To quote the mother of Dave Lee, she said “Parents who have lost a child will never have any closure. There will only be sadness…That is all I can say.”
We know it is for an important cause. The cost of our national defence has, however, fallen unevenly, with some families paying a higher price than others. We should not take our people’s support for National Service for granted. Apart from ongoing efforts to improve training safety, I would like to put forth two proposals for the Minister’s consideration.
Firstly, the best way to secure commitment to national defence is to ensure that the families of our fallen Servicemen are taken care of. While I hate to put a price tag on the sacrifices made, ex-gratia payments based on WICA is, in my view, inadequate. In peacetime situations, I urge the Government to benchmark compensation according to a reasonable projection of lifetime income based on actual civilian wages of NSmen multiplied by their remaining work life, and $1 million for NSF.
Secondly, I am proposing that a special day be designated when we commemorate and remember those amongst us who paid the ultimate price for our national defence and honour their families, and remind ourselves annually of the importance of training safety. On this day, let the whole nation say to these families – we remember and we are grateful.