The High Court struck down a lawsuit brought upon the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) by the grieving family of a full-time national serviceman (NSF) who died in 2012 after suffering an extreme allergic reaction to smoke grenades during a military training exercise.

On 17 April 2012, Private Dominique Sarron Lee had participated in an exercise at Lim Chu Kang, which involved the use of 6 smoke grenades. He passed out after suffering an allergic reaction to zinc chloride, one of the compounds used in the grenades. He was evacuated to Sungei Gedong Medical Centre before being warded at National University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 2PM the same day.

The SAF, his platoon commander and the chief safety officer of the exercise applied to have the case of negligence struck down on the grounds that there is no reasonable cause of action and that the suit is frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the court process.

Judicial Commissioner Kannan Ramesh accepted the arguments and ruled that the provision applied to Pte Lee’s case and dismissed the arguments of Pte Lee’s family, who said that there was a contract between SAF and Pte Lee and so, his family was entitled to claim damages from SAF.

In response to this verdict, Dominique’s mother, Felicia, has written a heart wrenching open letter to her deceased son to express her grief and sense of injustice. Read her letter here.

My dearest Dom, my heart continues to bleed for you. It has been 3years and 10months since you were taken from me and still, I haven’t been able to get any closure.

Today, Honourable Judicial Commissioner Kannan Remesh ruled that I have no case against those responsible for your death – the SAF and the 2 officers who did not follow the training exercise SOP. He also ruled that I have to pay for their legal costs. Dom, how can I possibly pay them for taking away your life? Where is the justice? It seems, the price I paid has not been enough. Your death has not been high enough a price for SAF and the 2 officers, and now, not enough for Honourable Remesh, it seems.

They must be right, of course – the judge, the ministers, the SAF and their officers. They are experts in their fields. Individuals who studied and trained for years to be in their current positions. What do I know? I’m only a mother to two sons. I only know to love my sons, to nurture them to become young men who will do right by others, to live with dignity, decency and human compassion. What do I know? They are the experts in their fields. They must know best. They do no wrong.

Dom, in these past 3+ years, I have been worn-down, beaten and defeated by the very government I taught you to trust; worn-down, beaten and defeated by the very system I counseled you to have faith in; worn-down, beaten and defeated by the very people I advised you to respect and honor.

Dom, forgive me. I taught you wrong.


Taken from the In memory of Dominique Sarron Lee Facebook page.

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