Dominique's pre-enlistment medical screening record clearly showed a history of asthma, yet the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) deemed his medical certification suitable for a vocational assignment that involves close proximity to toxic smoke. Dominque's life was snuffed out in a barrage of six smoke grenades, when the safety recommendations stipulated no more than two, thrown at least 20 metres apart, and at least 10 metres away form the closest troops.
Platoon commander Captain Najib Hanuk Muhamad Jalal was there, so was Chief Safety Officer Captain Chia Thye Siong. They were aware of the Training Safety Regulations (TSR). They knew it, they broke it. Dominique's mother had to ask, "Why was my son there?" Mindef made a pathetic attempt to deflect responsibility by saying Domnique had been on field training where smoke grenades were used and "did not display any adverse reactions to the smoke during training". In other words, Dominique was exposed to a similar life threatening situation before. That he survived the earlier attempt on his life is no excuse for Mindef's lip service to safety for our young men.
Worse, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, a medical doctor by earlier profession, sounded pretty cavalier about the statistical average of two training deaths a year for the last 10 years. That's two sons, brothers or male relatives. More disturbing, Professor Lim Tow Keang who chaired the Committee of Inquiry said: "We're quite sure asthma is not the cause of death." In other words, the inhalation of zinc chloride fumes from six smoke grenades could have killed any other healthy son, brother or male relative. If you believe the Prof, there is no way to check possible allergy to zinc chloride, and the smoke alone could have caused the asphyxiation.
There is one more disturbing question: Why did Dominique have to die? To protect a country which is one third occupied by foreigners?