Two servicemen fined after pleading guilty to causing Aloysius Pang's death
Duo, who were in cabin at time of incident, failed to ensure that Pang was in safe position.
Two soldiers were sentenced for their roles in the incident leading to the death of actor Aloysius Pang after they pleaded guilty in a military court yesterday.
Military Expert 2 (ME2) Ivan Teo Gee Siang was fined $7,000, while Third Sergeant (NS) Hubert Wah Yun Teng was fined $8,000 and demoted to corporal.
In January, Corporal First Class (NS) Pang, 28, was seriously injured during a live-firing exercise in New Zealand, after getting trapped between the back of the gun barrel and the interior of the Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer cabin.
He died four days later on Jan 23.
The court heard that the two men had, among other things, failed to ensure CFC Pang was in a safe position during the movement of the artillery gun's barrel. They were in the cabin with CFC Pang, an armament technician, at the time.
Yesterday, the two uniform-clad servicemen displayed no emotion when they had their charges read to them at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Court Martial Centre at Kranji Camp II.
Teo faced three charges: One charge of disobedience of general orders under the SAF Act, and two charges of negligent acts that endanger life under the SAF Act.
For disobedience of general orders, Teo could have been jailed for up to two years or fined up to $5,000. For the negligent act, he could have been jailed for up to three years or fined up to $5,000 per charge.
Teo, 35, was charged with disobedience of general orders for starting maintenance works on a part of the howitzer gun when the gun barrel was not in a "standby" position and with the howitzer's master switch still on.
This contravened standard operating procedures - "a lawful provision of a general order which he was reasonably expected to know", said court documents.
One charge of negligence was for failing to alert Wah that CFC Pang was in the path of the moving gun barrel, and for failing to ensure that CFC Pang moved to a safe position when it was lowered.
Teo's third charge was for failing to activate the emergency stop button before the barrel's rear hit CFC Pang.
Wah, an operationally ready national serviceman (NSman) gun commander, faced two charges.
The first was for causing death by a negligent act under the Penal Code, as he had "caused the death of (CFC Pang) by doing a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide" for failing to ensure CFC Pang was not in the path of the gun barrel before he lowered it.
Wah, 31, was also charged with a negligent act endangering life under the SAF Act. This was for failing to activate the emergency stop button before the gun barrel hit CFC Pang.
For the offence under the Penal Code, Wah could have been jailed for up to two years or fined up to $5,000. For the offence under the SAF Act, he could have been jailed for up to three years or fined up to $5,000.
The court heard that Teo would pay $3,000 yesterday, and the rest of his fine by monthly instalments of $1,000 a month deducted from his salary. Wah will pay his fine in full by Friday.
Yesterday's court martial panel comprised Lieutenant-Colonel (NS) Shawn Ho Hsi Ming, who is a serving state court judge, and panel members - Major Quak Lin Hian and Major Ong Zi Jun.
Acting for the prosecution was Chief Military Prosecutor Teoh Ai Lin, who is the Ministry of Defence's director of legal services.
Defence counsel Adrian Wee, who represented Wah, said in mitigation that while his client had panicked and failed to press the emergency stop button, he had tried to stop the gun barrel movement through electronic controls. "He was not simply sitting idle and was still trying to stop (the barrel) in a way that he knew, even though it was not the proper way," said Mr Wee.
In response, Ms Teoh said that Wah had received a brief from Teo about the repair, but not how the gun barrel should be operated, which was Wah's decision.
In Teo's mitigation, his lawyer Anand Nalachandran said that while training should increase the chances of responding well in an emergency, there are times when a person's response can be tested only in a real emergency.
Ms Teoh said in response that as the more senior person, Teo was expected to uphold safety rules, and that troops are reminded that safety should not be compromised.
In delivering his judgment, LTC (NS) Ho said Wah was the more culpable of the two, and this was reflected in the respective sentences.
"This is a sad case with the loss of a life. It is a grim reminder that training safety is of first importance."
Third Sergeant (NS) Hubert Wah Yun Teng (above) was fined $8,000 and demoted to corporal, while Military Expert 2 Ivan Teo Gee Siang was fined $7,000.
NOT ABOUT BLAME
My parents lost a son. We believe that one loss is enough. Other parents' sons have (a) life ahead of them. It's not about blame and pointing fingers now but how it should be prevented in the future.
MR JEFFERSON PANG, CFC Pang's brother, in a post last night on the Instagram account of NoonTalk Media, which represented the actor.
STANDARD OF CARE MUST BE SAME FOR NSMEN
(This case) is a grim reminder that training safety is of first importance. We fully agree that the standard of care required of an (operationally ready national serviceman), of (full-time national servicemen) whilst operating dangerous SAF equipment and machinery is the same as that required of regular SAF officers... (otherwise, we place) at risk the safety of every serviceman.
JUDGE LIEUTENANT-COLONEL (NS) SHAWN HO, delivering his judgment yesterday, quoting the prosecution's written submissions for Wah's sentencing.
PANG'S FAMILY REQUESTED LENIENCY
My client is grateful and humbled by this gesture from the family of the deceased.
MR ADRIAN WEE, defence counsel for Third Sergeant (NS) Hubert Wah Yun Teng, in noting that the family of Corporal First Class (NS) Aloysius Pang reached out to the SAF to ask for leniency to be exercised in the sentencing of the two servicemen involved.
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