Hundreds show up to bid farewell to late NSF

SINGAPORE – Hundreds of people, including family members, friends, military personnel and even strangers, gathered to say their final farewell to Corporal First Class (CFC) Liu Kai, who died during a training exercise last week.

The 22-year-old full-time national serviceman (NSF) was given a military funeral on Tuesday (Nov 6).

CFC Liu’s family was visibly emotional as the hearse carrying his casket departed for Mandai Crematorium.

His mother, who had to be consoled by family members, was wailing and repeatedly saying in Mandarin: “My Liu Kai.”

CFC Liu, a transport operator from Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) Transport Hub West, was participating in a field training exercise in the Jalan Murai training area last Saturday when a Bionix armoured vehicle reversed into the Land Rover he was in. He succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead by medical officers about 25 minutes later.

He was posthumously accorded the rank of CFC.

One of his sisters, who declined to be named, had earlier told reporters that the family was waiting for him to return to celebrate her birthday last Saturday.

Commenting on the moment that the family learnt of his death, his father, who also did not give his name, said the news was hard to accept. “But it was his duty to serve national service,” he said, adding that his only son was proud to serve the nation.

CFC Liu, who enlisted in April this year, was a filial son, added his father. When his mother was diagnosed with thyroid cancer earlier this year, he would take good care of her. They had a close relationship and he told her everything.

His parents and two elder sisters were applying to become Singapore citizens, according to his second sister. The family moved from China when the three siblings were in primary school. They have lived here for more than a decade.

CFC Liu had planned to go to university after completing his national service and get a job as an engineer.

His peers remember him as a cheerful and hard-working person who was always willing to help others.

An army-wide safety timeout on training has since been called to ensure all appropriate safety measures are in place. A Committee of Inquiry will also be convened to look into his death.

Speaking to the media on Monday, Chief of Army Goh Si Hou said any training death is one too many. Brigadier-General Goh added that during the timeout period, safety protocol will be relooked.

The incident is 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 killed after the Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicle he was guiding out of difficult terrain overturned during an overseas exercise in Australia in September last year.

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

The SAF had an average of about one NS training-related death a year over the past two decades, though there were no such deaths between 2013 and 2016, said Dr Ng.

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