NSF Liu Kai death (2018)

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The first leaked photograph of the accident site. Photo from SG Road Vigilante.

On 3 November 2018, Private Liu Kai, a Transport Operator from the SAF’s Transport Hub West passed away from injuries sustained from a vehicular mishap. The accident occurred at the Jalan Murai training area at roughly 10.10 am. (Singapore time).[1] Liu Kai was a full-time National Serviceman in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), serving his two-year mandatory National Service. Liu Kai’s death is the second death involving a BIONIX Infantry Fighting Vehicle, following 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Chan Hiang Cheng Gavin’s death on 15 September 2017.

Details of incident[edit | edit source]

The second leaked photograph of the accident site. Photo from SG Road Vigilante.

Liu Kai was a Chinese national holding permanent residency in Singapore. Liu Kai was applying for Singaporean citizenship at the time of his death.[2] On 3 November 2018, a BIONIX Infantry Fighting Vehicle unknowingly reversed into a Land Rover that Liu Kai was in. The accident happened during a field training exercise.

Committee of Inquiry (COI)[edit | edit source]

Following the incident, the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) convened the Committee of Inquiry to look into investigations. On 19 November 2018, Minister of Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen explained the details of the findings in Parliament.[3] The details released by the COI were as such:


On 3 November 2018, Liu Kai was operating the Land Rover carrying a trainer involved in the field exercise that day. The stationary Land Rover was behind the BIONIX Armoured Fighting Vehicle when the BIONIX responded to a simulated enemy encounter. As such, the BIONIX had reversed away from the simulated enemy fire and into the Land Rover.


The trainer in the Land Rover sustained no injuries but Liu Kai was found to be unconscious. The on-site SAF medic immediately attended to him. The SAF Emergency Ambulance Service and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) were deployed at 10.17 am and arrived on-site at 10.30 am. Despite the medical treatment, Liu Kai eventually succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead by medical officers at 10.35 am.

Leaked photographs[edit | edit source]

On 3 November 2018 and 6 November 2018, two leaked photographs of the accident appeared online.[4] The photographs clearly showed a BIONIX vehicle partially on top of the Land Rover, which had been crushed by the weight of the tank.


On 9 November 2018, police reports were filed against 5 National Servicemen (NSF) for the leaked photographs. The SCDF revealed that the photographs were taken by two SCDF NSFs who had been deployed to the site. The photographs were then forwarded to non-NSF friends by three other SCDF NSFs.[5] The pictures then appeared online in a post by the Facebook Group ‘SG Road Vigilante’.[6]

Liu Kai's funeral[edit | edit source]

The military funeral of NSF Liu Kai. Photo from CNA.
Ng Eng Hen at the parliamentary hearing on 19 November 2018 where he revealed the details of the COI findings. Photo from CNA.

On 6 November 2018, a military funeral was conducted for the late Liu Kai. Liu Kai was also accorded a posthumous recognition, promoting him to the Corporal First Class rank.[7] At the invitation of Liu Kai's family,[8] hundreds of people turned up at Liu Kai's wake in Woodlands.


As per the traditions of a military funeral, the state flag had been draped over Liu Kai's casket. The casket had been carried into Mandai Crematorium's service hall by eight pallbearers from the SAF’s Transport formation, which Liu Kai had belonged to.[9] A military band played in his honour and hundreds of military personnel flanked the driveway of the crematorium. Liu Kai’s father and his Commanding Officer delivered eulogies at the service. A state flag was also passed to Liu Kai's family, along with a gun salute and a minute of silence. A bugle sounded the Last Post and Rouse as a final ceremonial farewell. Liu Kai was cremated at 1.55 pm.[10]

Responses[edit | edit source]

Liu Kai's family[edit | edit source]

On the day of his death, Liu Kai’s family was waiting for him to book out so that they could celebrate his older sister’s birthday.[11] Speaking to the media at his wake, his family explained that the news of Liu Kai’s death was "hard to accept", but "it was his duty to serve national service". His father and sister stated that Liu Kai planned to attend university after his Operationally Ready Date (ORD) in April 2020. He was aspiring to be an engineer. His father also added that Liu Kai was a "filial son" and took good care of his mother after she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in April 2018.[12] Liu Kai actively served at Truth Baptist Church and was planning to apply for leave from the army in December 2018 to do mission work in northern Thailand.[13]

Ministry of Defence (MINDEF)[edit | edit source]

The Liu Kai incident triggered an indefinite safety pause on 3 November 2018. MINDEF commanded the safety pause to review training and safety management plans. The army-wide safety pause affected all training in Singapore and overseas. Exercise Trident, which is a bilateral exercise between the SAF and the Australian Defence Force was also momentarily stopped. All training resumed from 8 November 2018 onwards.[14]


During a Parliamentary hearing on 19 November 2018, Minister of Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen stated that MINDEF and the SAF will "undertake further reviews to curtail human lapses and mitigate risks associated with training". He explained that in light of the training-related deaths, the SAF will convene an External Review Panel on Combat Vehicle Safety. This panel reportedly comprised of "experts outside of the SAF". Minister Ng Eng Hen asserted that the SAF will ‘continue to find ways to enhance safety systems".[15]

References / Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. “Death of a Singapore Armed Forces Full-time National Serviceman”. Ministry of Defence. November 3, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/mindef/news-and-events/latest-releases/article-detail/2018/november/03nov18_nr2
  2. Tang, Louisa. Chua, Alfred. “‘My birthday became the day that he died’, says NSF Liu Kai’s sister”. Today Online. November 5, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/my-birthday-became-day-he-died-says-nsf-liu-kais-sister
  3. “Written Reply by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen to Parliamentary Questions on Training Incidents on 19 Nov 2018”. Ministry of Defence. November 19, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/mindef/news-and-events/latest-releases/article-detail/2018/november/19nov18_pq3/
  4. “Leaked photo of Bionix accident: SCDF files police report against 5 NSFs”. Channel NewsAsia. November 9, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/bionix-accident-photos-scdf-police-report-nsfs-liu-kai-10912338
  5. “Leaked photo of Bionix accident: SCDF files police report against 5 NSFs”. Channel NewsAsia. November 9, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/bionix-accident-photos-scdf-police-report-nsfs-liu-kai-10912338
  6. SG Road Vigilante - SGRV. Facebook. November 4, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sgroadshallofshame/permalink/1233443543469819/
  7. Ang, Jolene. “NSF dies in vehicle collision during local field exercise”. The Straits Times. November 4, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/nsf-dies-in-vehicle-collision-during-local-field-exercise
  8. Sim, Fann. “I invite all Singaporeans to see my brother off: Sister of NSF Liu Kai, who died during field training”. Channel NewsAsia. November 5, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/nsf-liu-kai-invite-singaporeans-to-see-my-brother-off-sister-10898734
  9. Cheng, Kenneth. “Family grieves as hundreds show up to bid goodbye to soldier killed in accident”. Today Online. November 6, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/family-grieves-hundreds-show-bid-goodbye-soldier-killed-accident
  10. Cheng, Kenneth. “Family grieves as hundreds show up to bid goodbye to soldier killed in accident”. Today Online. November 6, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/family-grieves-hundreds-show-bid-goodbye-soldier-killed-accident
  11. Tang, Louisa. Chua, Alfred. “‘My birthday became the day that he died’, says NSF Liu Kai’s sister”. Today Online. November 5, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/my-birthday-became-day-he-died-says-nsf-liu-kais-sister
  12. Koh, Fabian. “NSF death: He died in training incident on his sister's birthday”. The Straits Times. November 6, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/nsf-death-he-died-in-training-incident-on-his-sisters-birthday
  13. Koh, Fabian. “NSF death: He died in training incident on his sister's birthday”. The Straits Times. November 6, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/nsf-death-he-died-in-training-incident-on-his-sisters-birthday
  14. “Army-wide safety timeout after death of NSF Liu Kai to be lifted on Thursday: SAF”. Channel NewsAsia. November 7, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/army-wide-safety-timeout-after-death-of-nsf-liu-kai-to-be-lifted-10905716
  15. “Written Reply by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen to Parliamentary Questions on Training Incidents on 19 Nov 2018”. Ministry of Defence. November 19, 2018. Accessed on 4 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/portal/mindef/news-and-events/latest-releases/article-detail/2018/november/19nov18_pq3/