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‘I choose to forgive’: NSF Dave Lee’s mother ‘truly sad’ for SAF officer diagnosed with cancer

SINGAPORE — The mother of the late Corporal First Class (CFC) Dave Lee, who died during a National Service training exercise in 2018, said she is “truly sad” for the man earlier accused of causing her son’s death, after learning he has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

A photo of Corporal First Class Dave Lee Han Xuan seen at his wake.

A photo of Corporal First Class Dave Lee Han Xuan seen at his wake.

SINGAPORE — The mother of the late Corporal First Class (CFC) Dave Lee, who died during a National Service training exercise in 2018, said she is “truly sad” for the man earlier accused of causing her son’s death, after learning he has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) captain Tan Baoshu, the supervising officer of the fast march that led to Lee’s death from heat stroke, had claimed trial to the charge of causing Lee’s death by a rash act. 

Dates had been reserved for the trial next week. However, the 31-year-old was granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal last month after his cancer diagnosis.

This means that the charge was dropped but can be revived later, such as if new evidence emerges.

Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) captain Tan Baoshu, the supervising officer of the fast march that led to Lee’s death from heat stroke, had claimed trial to the charge of causing Lee’s death by a rash act. TODAY file photo

“I’m truly sad for him… It’s not easy for (his family). For Baoshu, I choose to forgive,” Mrs Jasmine Lee, 48, told TODAY on Thursday (Feb 6).

“We are still sad and healing from Dave’s death but that’s life… We visited Baoshu and we hope he will be strong enough to survive.” 

Tan was also CFC Lee’s officer commanding at the support company of the 1st Guards Battalion.

CFC Lee died from heat stroke on April 30, 2018 following an 8km fast march in Bedok Camp. 

The full-time national serviceman (NSF) had spent more than a week in intensive care in hospital after showing signs of heat injury.

‘NOBODY CAN UNDERSTAND THE PAIN’

Mrs Lee told TODAY that Tan is in a “really bad condition” but did not wish to elaborate, out of respect for his family.

In a public Facebook post on Thursday, Mrs Lee also said that it was “never her wish” to see Tan get struck by a cancer diagnosis.

“A family is soon going to lose a precious son. Nobody can understand the pain I bear with every single day, and his family is going to bear it soon. I said to him: ‘Hang on there, your family needs you’,” she wrote.

Court documents previously revealed that between 8.25am and 9.10am on April 18, 2018, Tan had allegedly failed to evacuate CFC Lee in a timely manner, and also disallowed the administration of “necessary treatment” to the NSF, which led to his death from heat stroke.

Tan was suspended from service pending the outcome of the court proceedings. 

When he was charged in court in October 2018, the police said they had referred six other SAF servicemen involved in the incident to the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) for investigations.

The ministry then said it would defer its internal proceedings against them — comprising two regular servicemen, as well as four other operationally ready national servicemen — until after Tan’s court case concluded, to “prevent any prejudice arising from parallel proceedings”.

TODAY has reached out to Mindef for updates on the six servicemen. 

Mrs Lee said that she still stands by her view that they should be punished significantly enough “to stop future illegal turn-outs to future NSFs”.

A preliminary assessment from a committee of inquiry convened to look into the training death revealed that there was significant delay in evacuating Lee, as well as inadequate measures given on-site after his fast march, which led to his death from the heat injuries.

On April 17, the day before the march, the conduct of an afternoon training session deviated from the lesson plan, resulting in Lee running faster and having less rest than stipulated.

Lee’s platoon was also mobilised that night for not observing “lights out”, and were punished with physical exercises, among other things, resulting in the soldiers having six hours and 15 minutes of uninterrupted rest instead of the specified seven hours.

Related topics

Mindef Dave Lee SAF Tan Baoshu cancer

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