NSF Aloysius Pang death (2019)

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Aloysius Pang passed away on 23 January 2019 due to a SAF training accident in New Zealand. Photo from Yahoo!News.

On 19 January 2019, Corporal First Class (National Service) [CFC (NS)] Pang Wei Chong Aloysius, an Armament Technician from the 268th Battalion Singapore Artillery sustained severe internal injuries while a repairing a Singapore Self-Propelled Howitzer (SSPH). The incident occurred at the Waiouru Training Area in New Zealand. Aloysius Pang was an Operationally Ready National Serviceman in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), serving his Reservist cycle obligations. He passed away on 23 January 2019 at 8.45 pm (Singapore Time) in Waikato Hospital, New Zealand.[1] Aloysius Pang was a popular Mediacorp actor and was dubbed one of the ‘8 Dukes of Caldecott Hill’.[2]

Details of incident

Aloysius Pang was in the cabin of the SSPH when the gun barrel was suddenly lowered. Infographic from Channel News Asia.

At the time of the accident, Aloysius Pang was serving his reservist obligations in Exercise Thunder Warrior, an annual artillery live-firing exercise which has been conducted since 1997.[3] Pang had been reportedly crushed between the end of the gun barrel and the cabin interior of the SSPH. The SSPH is an artillery gun mounted on an armoured framework.[4]

Committee of Inquiry (COI)

Following the incident, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) convened the Committee of Inquiry to look into investigations. On 6 May 2019, Minister of Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen explained the details of the findings in Parliament. The details released by the COI were as such:


The three men who were inside the SSPH, including Aloysius Pang, failed to adhere to proper safety procedures when they lowered the vehicle's gun barrel. Pang had been standing in the path of the gun barrel and he did not have the time to move to a safe position. Furthermore, it was reported that the regular technician and gun commander did not press the emergency stop buttons in their panic.[5]


According to Minister of Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, there are 3 safe positions in the SSPH for the crew to occupy when the gun barrel was lowered. During a parliamentary session on 11 February 2019, he clarified that it took "about 9 seconds for the gun barrel to be lowered to a horizontal position for maintenance".[6]

Evacuation and surgeries

At 2.25 pm (Singapore Times) on 19 January, Pang was sent to the Battalion Casualty Station before being air-lifted to Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, New Zealand. Aloysius Pang was reportedly conscious throughout the whole evacuation process. He arrived at the hospital at 6.00 pm (Singapore Time) and underwent an abdominal surgery which was completed at 11.40 pm (Singapore Time). He was then admitted to the High Dependency Unit in the hospital.[7]


Over the next three days, Pang underwent two more surgeries. The first surgery was a successful follow-up surgery on 21 January. After which his condition was declared stable by Doctor Teo Li Tserng of Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Doctor Christey Grant of Waikato Hospital.[8] He required another surgery on 22 January when his condition seemingly worsened. Following the second surgery, Pang was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit.[9]


On 23 January 2019, Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen posted a Facebook update on Aloysius Pang’s condition. He stated that Aloysius Pang was in a critical state and required artificial life support for his lungs, kidney and heart.[10] Pang passed away at 8.45 pm on 23 January 2019 despite surgical attempts to repair damaged organs and putting him on artificial life support.[11]

Aloysius Pang's funeral

Aloysius Pang's 3-day wake at MacPherson drew a crowd comprising of his fans and supporters. Photo from The Straits Times.

On 25 January 2019, Aloysius Pang’s body was flown from New Zealand to Singapore in a Republic of Singapore Air Force KC-135.[12] His body arrived in Singapore at around 6.00 pm (Singapore Time) and was accorded honours upon arrival at Paya Lebar airbase. Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen, Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant-General Melvyn Ong, Chief of Army Major-General Goh Si Hou and fellow soldiers of the Artillery Formation were at the base to receive him and convey their condolences to his family. Ng Eng Hen also relayed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s condolences to Pang's family.[13]


Aloysius Pang’s military funeral took place on 27 January 2019. His wake was held in MacPherson and lasted a total of 3 days. There was also a public memorial service held, which was attended by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, Members of Parliament Tin Pei Ling and Alex Yam, as well as Aloysius Pang’s fans and colleagues. During the memorial service, his family members, colleagues and friends delivered their personal eulogies.[14]


Pang's body was cremated at Mandai Crematorium. 8 pallbearers carried his casket into the service hall and 300 military personnel also flanked the pathway. A state flag was also passed to his family, along with a gun salute and a minute of silence. A bugle sounded the Last Post and Rouse as a final ceremonial farewell.[15]


On 28 January 2019, Pang’s ashes were scattered into the sea, off the coast of Pulau Ubin. Aloysius Pang’s talent manager Dasmond Koh posted a picture of the boat on the sea on his personal Instagram account. The attached caption stated in Mandarin that Aloysius Pang’s parents would like to convey that by scattering his ashes into the sea, he was finally ‘liberated’. The caption ended off with the hashtag #RememberingAloysiusPang.[16]

Responses

Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)

The Aloysius Pang incident triggered an army-wide safety timeout commanded by MINDEF to investigate the incident and evaluate the safety measures in place for field training in both Singapore and New Zealand. Exercise Thunder Warrior was halted as well. The training tempo for in-training servicemen was also reviewed to reduce the intensity, duration and frequency of training. This was reported by Chief of Army Major-General Goh Si Hou in the press conference held on 24 January 2019 to address the Aloysius Pang incident.[17]


On 31 January 2019, MINDEF released a statement which explained that the current safety pause would be gradually lifted after 7 February 2019. The statement also revealed that key figures in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) would also be more proactive in checking in with the soldiers on the ground to ensure that the training they receive is safe.[18]


In a parliamentary meeting dated 11 February 2019, Minister Ng Eng Hen asserted that there were no design flaws in the SSPH as it has met the international safety standards for military vehicles. He added that the two other servicemen involved in the training accident were unhurt and have been "redeployed from their operational roles".[19]

The late Aloysius Pang (left) pictured with his girlfriend Jayley Woo. Photo from jiaqiwoo's Instagram.

Jayley Woo

Local actress Jayley Woo took to her Instagram to publicly grieve following the news of Aloysius Pang’s death. She revealed that they had been in a relationship for a few years and were waiting for marriage before officially revealing their relationship to the public. The pair acted as a couple in two Mediacorp Channel 8 drama series, ‘Tiger Mum’ and ‘Super Senior’ which aired in 2015.[20] In 2017, they co-starred in another Mediacorp Channel 8 Drama, ‘Dream Coder’. Jayley Woo’s twin sister Hayley Woo also revealed that Aloysius Pang planned to marry Jayley Woo when he reached 31 years old.[21] Pang was 29 years old at the time of his death.

NoonTalk Media

Aloysius Pang was under the artiste management company NoonTalk Media, run by former radio deejay and current television host Dasmond Koh. Pang was due to start shooting for the Mediacorp Channel 8 Drama ‘My One In A Million’ in February after he completed his reservist. He was cast as the male lead. Following his accident, Dasmond Koh relayed to Mediacorp that he would like Aloysius Pang to receive "adequate rest for at least 6 months".[22] This was before Aloysius Pang’s condition had deteriorated to the point where he required artificial life support. In the press conferences held by NoonTalk Media on 20 January 2019 and 24 January 2019, Dasmond Koh was visibly distraught and held back tears while addressing the media.[23]

Mediacorp

Mediacorp aired a 30-minute program on 31 January 2019 in tribute to Aloysius Pang. Photo from Toggle.

Mediacorp sent their condolences to Aloysius Pang’s family and released a statement detailing his career highlights as a Mediacorp artiste. Aloysius Pang started as a child actor in 1999 and was named one of the ‘8 Dukes of Caldecott Hill’ in 2014. He was also awarded Best Newcomer at Star Awards 2015 and Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes at Star Awards 2016.[24]


On 31 January 2019, Mediacorp broadcasted a 30-minute program dedicated to the late Aloysius Pang on Channel 8. The show was titled ‘Remembering Aloysius’. It detailed his acting career and featured his family members and colleagues, who spoke about their fond memories with the late actor.[25]

Politicians

Finance Minister Heng Swee Kiat, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development Sun Xueling, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Workers Party Chief Pritam Singh were among the few who took to their Facebook to post express their deepest condolences towards his family members. Various political parties, such as the Singapore People’s Party (SPP) and the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) also offered their condolences to Pang's grieving family members.[26]


On 11 February 2019, Pritam Singh called for a review of the Government Proceedings Act in an adjournment motion tabled in Parliament. The Government Proceedings Act protects members of the armed forces against legal liability with regards to negligence suits for death and injuries that happen during military duty.[27]

Charges

On 31 July 2019, it was reported that two SAF servicemen were charged for the incident that led to Aloysius Pang's death. 35-year old Military Expert (ME2) Ivan Teo was charged for disobedience of general orders and causing death by negligent act. If convicted, he faces jail time of up to 4 years, a fine, or both. 31-year old Third Sergent (National Service) Hubert Wah was charged for causing death by rash act and causing death by negligent act. If convicted, he faces jail time of up to 7 years, a fine, or both.[28]

References / Citations

  1. “Death of a Singapore Armed Forces Operationally Ready National Serviceman – CDF to chair press conference to present preliminary findings”. Ministry of Defence. January 23, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/mindef/news-and-events/latest-releases/article-detail/2019/January/23jan19_nr2
  2. “Actor Aloysius Pang’s death 'a devastating loss’: Mediacorp”. Channel NewsAsia. January 24, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/aloysius-pang-saf-training-death-a-devastating-loss-mediacorp-11159198  
  3. “Update on Training Incident at Exercise Thunder Warrior”. Ministry of Defence. January 21, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/mindef/news-and-events/latest-releases/article-detail/2019/January/21jan19_nr
  4. Cheng, Ian. “Aloysius Pang dies in SAF training accident: What we know so far”. Channel NewsAsia. January 24, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/aloysius-pang-saf-howitzer-training-death-what-we-know-11148978
  5. Aqil Haziq Mahmud. "Aloysius Pang death: COI finds accident due to lapses by Pang, 2 other servicemen". Channel News Asia. May 6, 2019. Accessed on 2 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/aloysius-pang-death-lapses-servicemen-howitzer-ssph-coi-11506894
  6. “Ministerial Statement by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, on National Service Training Deaths and Safety Enhancements for the SAF for Parliamentary Sitting”. Ministry of Defence. February 11, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/mindef/news-and-events/latest-releases/article-detail/2019/February/11feb19_ps
  7. “Operationally Ready National Serviceman Injured at Overseas Exercise”. Ministry of Defence. January 20, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/mindef/news-and-events/latest-releases/article-detail/2019/January/20jan19_nr?fbclid=IwAR26GhGJt7KClTuaGKh7c4ahuiEUuGpD7fXSxuZg3O3maBIiRSoOtSaIx9I
  8. “Actor Aloysius Pang is ‘stable and breathing on his own’ after suffering SAF training injury”. Today Online. January 21, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/actor-aloysius-pang-stable-and-breathing-his-own-after-suffering-saf-training-injury
  9. “Update 2 on Training Incident at Exercise Thunder Warrior”. Ministry of Defence. January 23, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/mindef/news-and-events/latest-releases/article-detail/2019/January/23jan19_nr
  10. Ng Eng Hen. Facebook. January 23, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/ngenghen/posts/2113824325377482
  11. “Death of a Singapore Armed Forces Operationally Ready National Serviceman – CDF to chair press conference to present preliminary findings”. Ministry of Defence. January 23, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/mindef/news-and-events/latest-releases/article-detail/2019/january/23jan19_nr2
  12. “Aloysius Pang's body returns home”. Today Online. January 25, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/body-aloysius-pang-given-airport-send-way-home
  13. “Body of Late CFC(NS) Pang Wei Chong, Aloysius Accorded Honours on Arrival in Singapore. A Military Funeral to be Held.”. Ministry of Defence. January 25, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/mindef/news-and-events/latest-releases/article-detail/2019/january/25jun18_nr
  14. Tan, Tam Mei. “Tearful send-off for late actor Aloysius Pang”. The Straits Times. January 28, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/tearful-send-off-for-late-actor-aloysius-pang
  15. Tan, Tam Mei. Tee, Zhuo. “Family, friends bid farewell as Aloysius Pang accorded military funeral”. The Straits Times. January 28, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/aloysius-pangs-wake-endless-stream-of-people-turn-up-on-second-day-to-pay-their-final
  16. Yip, Wai Yee. “'He is liberated now': Aloysius Pang's ashes scattered at sea”. The Straits Times. January 30, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/he-is-liberated-now-aloysius-pangs-ashes-scattered-at-sea
  17. “Aloysius Pang death: Our responsibility to ensure safety of our children, says Chief of Defence Force”. Channel NewsAsia. January 24, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/aloysius-pang-death-saf-system-in-place-review-training-tempo-11161864
  18. Lim, Min Zhang. “SAF sets up Inspector-General's Office to enforce safety following Aloysius Pang's case”. The Straits Times. January 31, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/saf-sets-up-inspector-generals-office-to-enforce-safety-following-aloysius-pangs-case
  19. “Ministerial Statement by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, on National Service Training Deaths and Safety Enhancements for the SAF for Parliamentary Sitting”. Ministry of Defence. February 11, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/mindef/news-and-events/latest-releases/article-detail/2019/February/11feb19_ps
  20. Ng, Huiwen. Tee, Zhuo. Lim, Min Zhang. Yip, Wai Yee. “Actress girlfriend, colleagues, public figures mourn actor Aloysius Pang's death”. The Straits Times. January 25, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/actress-girlfriend-colleagues-public-figures-mourn-actors-death
  21. “'My world is no more': Aloysius Pang's girlfriend Jayley Woo mourns his death”. CNA Lifestyle. January 24, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://cnalifestyle.channelnewsasia.com/trending/aloysius-pang-girlfriend-jayley-woo-death-mourn-actor-tribute-11160296
  22. Yip, Wai Yee. “Injured actor Aloysius Pang's role in Mediacorp drama to be recast after New Zealand accident”. The Straits Times. January 24, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/injured-actor-aloysius-pang-in-stable-condition-after-two-surgeries-his-role-in-mediacorp
  23. Phua, Lynette. “Dasmond Koh: 'I'm sorry that I could not bring a healthy Aloysius back home'”. AsiaOne. January 24, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.asiaone.com/entertainment/dasmond-koh-im-sorry-i-could-not-bring-healthy-aloysius-back-home
  24. “Actor Aloysius Pang’s death 'a devastating loss’: Mediacorp”. Channel NewsAsia. January 24, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/aloysius-pang-saf-training-death-a-devastating-loss-mediacorp-11159198
  25. Tan, Kendra. “6 Things We Learned About Aloysius Pang From Ch 8’s Tribute To The Late Actor”. 8days. February 1, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.8days.sg/sceneandheard/entertainment/6-things-we-learned-about-aloysius-pang-from-ch-8-s-tribute-to-11194980?cx_tag=8daysrec4ua&cid=tg:recos:8daysrec4ua:standard#cxrecs_s
  26. Tee, Zhuo. “Aloysius Pang dies: Politicians offer condolences”. The Straits Times. January 25, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/aloysius-pang-dies-politicians-opposition-members-offer-condolences
  27. Cheng, Kenneth. “WP renews call to lift legal immunity for Mindef, negligent officers in serious safety breaches”. Today Online. February 12, 2019. Accessed on 6 March 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/wp-renews-call-lift-legal-immunity-mindef-negligent-officers-serious-safety-breaches
  28. "Aloysius Pang death: 2 SAF servicemen charged in military court". Channel News Asia. July 31, 2019. Accessed on 1 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/aloysius-pang-death-ivan-teo-hubert-wah-charged-military-court-11768274