Commander of Training and Doctrine Command Brigadier General Chan Wing Kai says that the pair were disciplined in 2013 – following Private Lee’s death in the fatal 2012 incident.
No criminal charges were brought against the two officers, Captain Najib Hanuk Muhamad Jalal and safety officer Captain Chia Thye Siong as the death was “not reasonably foreseeable”.
“While the CI and COI (Committee of Inquiry) did not find that the two officers were directly responsible for PTE Lee’s death, the two officers were summarily tried in 2013 for negligent performance of lawful order or duty, found guilty, and punished according to military law.”
He added that Private Lee had “died from acute allergic reaction to zinc chloride due to inhalation of zinc chloride fumes” in the smoke grenades, and that the coroner found that the acute allergic reaction was “unlikely to have been predicted”.
During the exercise, Private Lee was wearing a blue arm band, indicating he had asthma and special attention should be paid to him.
A COI found that 6 smoke grenades were used during that training, when SAF safety regulations allow the max of 2 to be used .
Captain Najib, who was platoon commander at the time, said that he decided to throw more smoke grenades than he was supposed to because there was a lack of wind on the day of the exercise.
It was also discovered that medics deployed for the training exercise were not trained to spot signs of asthma, or manage asthma attacks.
The COI found that Private Lee’s death was entirely preventable if safety regulations were followed.
Last Friday, the High Court struck out a lawsuit against the SAF and the two officers in charge of the training exercise, brought by Private Lee’s grieving family.
Their defence called the the lawsuit frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the court process.
They hid behind a provision in the Government Proceedings Act, arguing that they can’t be sued for negligence for deaths and injuries if the acts are attributable to service.
The Judicial Commissioner ruled the provision applied in this case.