Monday, 12 August 2013

The deaths of an inmate, a private, and a corporal Vs a sergeant

Update 3 Mar 2016: High Court strikes out lawsuit against SAF brought by family of dead NSF
 
The High Court struck out a lawsuit on Thursday (March 3) brought against the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) by the family of a full-time national serviceman (NSF) who died after a smoke grenade exercise in 2012.

A Straits Times report said that Private Dominique Sarron Lee had suffered an allergic reaction during the exercise at Lim Chu Kang on April 17, 2012. He had difficulties breathing and subsequently passed out. The 21-year-old was evacuated to Sungei Gedong Medical Centre before he was transferred to National University Hospital. He died around 2pm the same day.

The family of the former track athlete from the Singapore Sports School also brought a lawsuit against Pte Lee's platoon commander, Captain Najib Hanuk Muhamad Jalal and the chief safety officer of the exercise, Captain Chia Thye Siong, on grounds of negligence.
 
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Court dismisses NSF death lawsuit

THE High Court yesterday struck out a lawsuit brought against the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) by the family of a full-time national serviceman who died in 2012 after an allergic reaction to smoke grenades during a military exercise.

The family of Private Dominique Sarron Lee had also sued his platoon commander and the chief safety officer of the exercise, alleging negligence on their part.

All three defendants applied to strike out the claim 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.

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Full Coverage:
High Court strikes out lawsuit against SAF, 2 officers over NSF...
Dead soldier's family sues Singapore Armed Forces, two officers
High Court strikes out lawsuit against SAF brought by family of dead NSF
Court dismisses NSF death lawsuit
High Court strikes out lawsuit against SAF brought by family of dead NSF
NSF death: High Court strikes out lawsuit against SAF, two officers
Court dismisses NSF death lawsuit

Singapore’s civil society gathers to remember Dinesh Raman

It was not about making money or protesting against the establishment.

Instead, about 40 people gathered at Muse House on Saturday to remember a young man taken before his time, to support his grieving family, and to demand justice and answers from the state.

Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah died in Changi Prison on 27 September 2010 after an altercation with prison officers. He was just 21.

The independent: Govt statement on Dinesh Raman reprehensible: Civil Society

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 Remembering Dinesh
A simple tribute to the departed Dinesh included offerings made up of his favourite food - a packet of nasi lemak and a can of Coca Cola (Photo by Shawn Danker)
A simple tribute to the departed Dinesh included offerings made up of his favourite food – a packet of nasi lemak and a can of Coca Cola (Photo by Shawn Danker)

She held the microphone in silence for some 30 seconds. The assembled crowd of roughly 50 people was silent too. They were waiting for the mother of the former prison inmate Dinesh Raman to speak. The 21-year-old had died in prison just a little more than three years ago, in circumstances that seemed hazy at best.

Madam Selvi, 45, was articulate earlier, on film. She told of the day she was informed of her son’s death on 27 September 2010. How she dropped the eggs she was holding as the person on the other end of the telephone line told her to brace herself.

She was regretful that she did not see him on his birthday three weeks earlier, on Sept 6. The prison had called on his behalf, she said, saying that he wanted to see her. The family, which had decided to not visit him for a few months to “punish” him, never saw him again alive after that. When he finally returned home, his body was in a bruised state. The G had said the bruises were consistent with the restraint processes the prison officers used to subdue him the day he died. The family was not as convinced.

related: Just how did Dinesh die? Part 5

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Statement regarding the case of Dinesh Raman s/o Chinnaiah

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has reviewed the notice of a civil suit served on the Government by the counsel for the family of the late Dinesh Raman s/o Chinnaiah (“Dinesh Raman”) on 12 September 2013.

2. The claim filed by the family contains serious allegations that are false and which cast aspersions on the integrity of the prison service, police investigations and the criminal justice system. MHA notes that the counsel for the family, Mr M Ravi, has stated that the Court should determine the facts. MHA agrees, and also notes that it was the family and its lawyers who started making statements in public about the facts, which were then reprinted and commented on, without regard to the truth or the fact that the matter was before the Court. The Government would normally have dealt with the false allegations made in the claim in Court. But since Mr M Ravi, has chosen to make the allegations public on 11 September 2013, even before formally serving the writ on the Government on 12 September 2013, MHA is issuing this response to correct some of the falsehoods. The Statement of Claim also contains several other statements. Most of these were first presented in Court, by the AGC, during the criminal proceedings against DSP Lim. It is also untrue to suggest that the government declined to conduct a Coroner's Inquiry. The Inquiry was discontinued without objection from the family, because the facts had been ascertained in the criminal proceedings.

3. The claim filed by the family alleges that Dinesh Raman died due to “the oppressive assault” by Prison Service Officers, who “abuse[d] their positions of authority”. These are false accusations. The Statement of Claim alleges (amongst other things):

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Mother of Dinesh Raman files statement of claims against S’pore government

The mother of a former prison inmate has filed a Writ of Summons against the Singapore Government for aggravated damages in the inmate’s death while in police custody.

Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah died from positional asphyxia on 27 September 2010 while in Changi Prison, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) which had conducted an internal investigation into the death.

Deputy Superintendent Lim Kwo Yin, the supervising officer when the incident which led to Dinesh Raman’s death happened, was the only one charged for the death. It was reported that 8 officers in total were involved in restraining Dinesh Raman in the incident which led to his death.

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The Independent: How much is too much compensation for a dead prisoner?

MHA reiterates coroner's inquiry is fact-finding process

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the purpose of a coroner's inquiry is to determine the identity of the deceased, and how, when and where the deceased came by his death.

The MHA stressed that it is a fact-finding, not fault-finding, process. It added that the Coroners Act specifically prohibits the State Coroner from framing a finding that determines questions of liability.

The ministry said this in a statement released on Thursday evening, in response to the legal proceedings started by the family of Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah through its new lawyer M Ravi.


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One Death That Will Not Go Away

Speaking at a charity gala to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Yellow Ribbon Fund for ex-offenders, Second Minister for Home Affairs S Iswaran boasted that Singapore Prison Service officers will emerge stronger from the incident involving the death of prison inmate Dinesh Raman. Well, it doesn't quite look that way, does it? Not when the family of Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah has just written to the Attorney General, seeking approval to re-open the coroner's inquiry into their son's death within 7 days.

Iswaran had told Parliament that the State Coroner discontinued the inquiry because the cause and circumstances of Dinesh's death had been established in the criminal court. Well, if it had been so clearly established, it behoves one to ask why the minister is so reluctant to release the full report of the coroner's inquiry. Law Minister K Shanmugam had once said the Shane Todd inquiry was fair, open and "the world can see what we have done", yet he, too deigned to release that report when challenged by the Todd family.

The statement relating to the request for reopening the coroner's enquiry said that it is "in the interest of transparency and justice that a public and independent inquiry into Dinesh's death be allowed to run its full course. His family deserves nothing less." We could also add, the general public interest deserves nothing less. 

Family of inmate who died in prison files application to reopen coroner's inquiry

The family of Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah is asking the High Court for a mandatory order to reopen the coroner's inquiry into the inmate's death.

Lawyer M Ravi filed an application on behalf of the family with the High Court on Wednesday. Dinesh Raman died in prison in 2010.

He was restrained by prison officers after acting violently. He later died from breathing difficulties after he was placed chest down on the ground in an isolation cell.

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Family of prison inmate who died to receive compensation: S. Iswaran

The family of the prison inmate who died after suffering breathing difficulties while in an isolation cell will be compensated by the Government, which has also accepted liability.

This was revealed in parliament on Monday by Second Minister for Home Affairs S. Iswaran, in response to questions raised by MPs about the death of Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah on September 27, 2010.

A senior prisons officer, the direct supervising officer then, was charged in court last month. Lim Kwo Yin pleaded guilty to causing death by a negligent act and was fined $10,000

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Statement by MHA on the death of prison inmate Dinesh Raman s/o Chinnaiah

On 27 September 2010, Dinesh Raman, a prison inmate, carried out an unprovoked attack on a prison officer outside his cell in the presence of other inmates. Prison officers responded to restrain him and to place him in a cell. He was left in a prone position in the cell. Shortly after, due to his unresponsiveness, he was evacuated to hospital where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death was determined to be positional asphyxiation, i.e. the deceased was being placed in a prone position on the ground where he died due to breathing difficulties.

The Criminal Investigation Department conducted an investigation into the incident and referred its findings to the Attorney-General’s Chambers. AGC has charged the officer supervising the incident with Causing Death by a Negligent Act.

Separately, the Ministry of Home Affairs appointed an independent Committee of Inquiry to look into the circumstances surrounding the death, and to recommend improvements to existing systems, protocols and processes. The Committee submitted its report to the Ministry in June 2013. 

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You clearer now on just how did Dinesh die?

Looks like the death of the 21-year old prison inmate raised enough eyebrows to lead to questions being raised in Parliament.

Leave you to judge, however, whether you’re satisfied with the questions – and the replies.

So Second Home Affairs Minister S Iswaran gave a long spiel laying out the timeline between day of death and day of reckoning in court.

Just how did Dinesh die? Part 1
Just how did Dinesh die? Part 2

 
AGC clarifies why no Coroner's Inquiry was held for prison inmate's death
Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah’s two sisters and a family friend (in blue) consoling Dinesh’s mother, Madam Sel (in chair) on Sept 29, 2010. The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) on Thursday, July 25, 2013, clarified why there was no Coroner's Inquiry into the death of Changi Prison inmate Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah’s two sisters and a family friend (in blue) consoling Dinesh’s mother, Madam Sel (in chair) on Sept 29, 2010. The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) on Thursday, July 25, 2013, clarified why there was no Coroner's Inquiry into the death of Changi Prison inmate Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG 

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) on Thursday clarified why there was no Coroner's Inquiry into the death of Changi Prison inmate Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah.

Mr Dinesh died while in prison on Sept 27, 2010, due to breathing difficulties while he was placed chest down on the ground in an isolation cell. Senior prison officer Lim Kwo Yin, 36, pleaded guilty to causing his death by negligence on July 19.

Under the Coroners Act, the Coroner is required to hold an inquiry into any death that occurs while in official custody - for instance, where an inmate dies in prison, the AGC said in a statement.

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Prison officer fined S$10,000 for negligence which caused inmate’s death
Lim Kwo Yin (in white shirt) leaving the Subordinate Courts. (TODAY photo)

A senior prison officer has been fined S$10,000 for causing the death of an inmate through negligence.

36-year-old Lim Kwo Yin pleaded guilty to one count of causing the death of 21-year-old Dinesh Raman Chinnaiah by failing to exercise adequate supervision on 27 September 2010.

Lim, a deputy superintendent in the Singapore Prison Service, was charged on Friday afternoon. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced on the same day.


 
Dead inmate's family upset prison officer only got a fine

The family of prison inmate Dinesh Raman said they are upset that the senior prison officer charged with causing his death through negligence received only a fine - especially when a life was lost.

Almost three years on, they said they are still not sure exactly how the 21-year-old died, and that they have not decided if they will take further legal action.

In December 2007, Dinesh Raman was convicted of rioting and theft and sentenced to reformative training. 

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NSF did not report last asthma attack

Pte Lee died in April last year from acute allergic reaction due to inhalation of zinc chloride fumes from smoke grenades. -- FILE PHOTO: MINDEF

A full-time national serviceman who died after having breathing difficulties during training gave inaccurate information about his asthma attacks during a pre-enlistment check-up.

Private Dominique Sarron Lee had declared during the check-up in 2011 that his last asthma attack was more than three years ago, a coroner's inquiry into his death heard yesterday.

The 21-year-old also stated that he was not on any steroid medications, reliever medication or active follow-up. But a medical report from a general practitioner at Street 11 Clinic in Tampines who treated him showed that he last suffered an attack on Oct 25, 2010.

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A soldier Died While Training At Murai
Murai

A 21-year old soldier, Dominique Lee, from 3rd Battalion Singapore Infantry Regiment died while participating in a platoon exercise at Murai Urban Training Facility at Lim Chu Kang involving the use of smoke grenades.

He experienced breathing difficulties at 12.30pm and lost consciousness minutes later. He was evacuated to Sungei Gedong Medical Centre, 3.5 kilometers away (a ten minutes drive), shortly after. He was then sent to National University Hospital (NUH), another 24 kilometers away (a thirty minutes drive), while an SAF doctor continued to resuscitate him in the ambulance en route to the hospital.

He was pronounced dead at NUH about an hour and the half after he had fainted.

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MOTHER OF LATE PTE DOMINIQUE SARRON LEE: STILL MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS

The mother of Private Dominique Sarron Lee, Mdm Felicia Seah, felt there are still "many unanswered questions" over her son's death

Mdm Seah, who was briefed by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) on the Committee of Inquiry (COI) findings yesterday, said that the ministry did not provide the full findings to her.

She said: "There are still so many unanswered questions. I wanted to know why the officer threw six grenades instead of two and why the safety officer did not stop him."

 
She talks to son at his grave every day

Since Private Dominique Sarron Lee Rui Feng's death five months ago, Madam Felicia Seah has been visiting his grave (below) at Choa Chu Kang Christian Cemetery every day, come rain or shine.

The 21-year-old died in April after collapsing during an exercise involving smoke grenades.

On Sept 14, she wrote an open letter that was posted on Facebook, calling for more transparency from SAF and Mindef. It has since garnered nearly 10,000 likes on the social networking site and been shared across blogs.

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Breaches of safety rules led to two NSFs' deaths


The deaths of two full-time national servicemen (NSFs) earlier this year could have been avoided if training safety rules had been obeyed, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Wednesday.

Clear breaches in the two incidents led to Private Dominique Sarron Lee Rui Feng, 21, dying after a training exercise and Third Sergeant Tan Mou Sheng, 20, falling out of a jeep, their committees of inquiry (COIs) found.

For their negligence, the ministry has since replaced a commanding officer and redeployed six other commanders, even as investigations are ongoing to see if they should be prosecuted in the military and civil courts.

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2 deaths, 7 suspensions, 3 new safety initiatives


Defence Minister says SAF, Mindef are deeply sorry for safety lapses during NS training. The two deaths: 3rd Sgt Tan Mou Sheng, 20 (L) and Pte Dominique Lee, 21.

Despite training regulations, six grenades were used in a Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) training area when only two should have been used. Private Dominique Sarron Lee died as a result in April.

And in May, a military jeep driven by a soldier who is not licensed to drive flipped during training, crushing Third Sergeant Tan Mou Sheng, 20. Sgt Tan and another rear seat passenger of the jeep also did not use their lap belts and military helmets.

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Jeep driver didn't have licence, but told to drive


Third Sergeant Tan Mou Sheng was thrown out of a jeep he was travelling in, after it overturned. He was pinned under it. He was extricated and underwent an emergency operation in hospital, but died from his injuries.

The jeep's driver, 3rd Sgt Cavin Tan, did not have a licence. The conducting officer of the exercise, Master Sergeant Lee Kong Kean, had assigned the jeep driver to drive without checking if he had a licence. Third Sgt Tan Mou Sheng and another passenger were not wearing helmets or lap belts. The Combat Intelligence School was found to have a weak safety culture, with previous cases of unlicensed driving. Its vehicle-management system was also found to be unsatisfactory.

The school's commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Lam Fei Liong, has been removed. Four others have been relieved of their duties and redeployed. They are: Major Poon Chen Song, 1st Warrant Officer Lim Ser Wei, Lieutenant Marcus Koh Men and Master Sergeant Lee.

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Update on Condition of Full-time National Serviceman

A Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) full-time National Serviceman 3rd Sergeant (3SG) Tan Mou Sheng was involved in a training incident at Marsiling training area at 6.50am today. 3SG Tan Mou Sheng was travelling in a scout jeep as part of an exercise when the driver lost control of the vehicle and the jeep overturned. 3SG Tan Mou Sheng was found pinned under the vehicle.

The driver, 3SG Tan Cavin, and the front seat passenger, 3SG Hong Dickson, were wearing their seat belts and remained within the vehicle at the time of the incident. The left rear passenger, 3SG Ow Yong Wei Long, was found away from the vehicle unharmed.

Despite the best efforts by the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital surgical team, 3SG Tan Mou Sheng succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at 1.56pm.

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MINDEF suspends army training after yet another death of a full-time National Serviceman Tan Mou Sheng

Less than one month after a NSF Private Lee Rui Feng died during a field training in Lim Chu Kang, another NSF had died again

3SG Tan Mou Sheng (pic: left, source: Facebook) was reportedly involved in a vehicle accident during training and was pronounced dead at 1.56pm at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

Following the incident, the Army has declared a safety time-out from Friday till 15. During this period, all Army field training will be suspended.

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Mass protest in Taiwan over young conscript's death
photo_1375543299069-1-HD.jpg

Taiwanese protesters hold placards during an anti-military rally in front of the presidential office in Taipei, on August 3, 2013. (AFP)

More than 100,000 Taiwanese people took to the streets Saturday in protest over the death of a young conscript who was allegedly abused in the military.

Singing a Taiwanese take on the revolutionary song "Do you hear the people sing?" from the hit musical "Les Miserables", protesters rallied at a square near the presidential office in Taipei, mostly dressed in white -- a colour symbolising truth in local culture.

It was the second mass protest since Corporal Hung Chung-chiu died of heatstroke on July 4 -- apparently after being forced to exercise excessively as punishment for taking a smartphone onto his base -- just three days before the end of his compulsory year-long military service.

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Taiwanes soldier was murdered by Taiwanese government
Taiwanes soldier was murdered by Taiwanese government.
The Taiwanese army yesterday apologized for the death of a soldier and promised to punish personnel responsible for the incident

Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘), a soldier performing compulsory service in the army’s sixth regiment, died three days before he was due to complete his term of service.

The army said Hung was scheduled to leave the military on Saturday.

On June 23 he was found carrying a cellphone with a camera and an MP3 player after returning from vacation, and was placed in confinement on June 28.

 
Mourners at corporal's funeral urge President Ma ying-jeou to resign

Hundreds of angry mourners mobbed Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday as he attended a funeral for an army corporal who died after being allegedly abused in a military jail early last month.

"Step down, president!" and "Give us truth!" shouted the mourners, a number of whom were relatives or neighbours of Hung Chung-chiu - a 24-year-old army corporal who died of what his superiors attributed to "heatstroke".

But investigations by military prosecutors later showed the victim was ordered to do excessive exercise in the jail as punishment for bringing a banned mobile phone to the military camp, despite his request for rest amid the high temperature.

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Taiwan defence minister resigns after corporal's death

File photo of Taiwan's Defence Minister Kao Hua-chu, pictured during his recent visit to Paraguay, on July 9, 2013
This file photo shows Taiwan's Defence Minister Kao Hua-chu during his recent visit to Paraguay, on July 9, 2013. Kao has resigned, Premier Jiang Yi-huah said on Monday, after the death of a corporal who was allegedly abused by the military in a case that sparked outrage across the island

Taiwan's defence minister has resigned, Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Monday, after the death of a corporal who was allegedly abused by the military in a case that has sparked outrage across the island.

Jiang, who announced the resignation of Kao Hua-chu during a press conference to reveal a cabinet reshuffle, did not elaborate on the reasons for the minister's stepping down.

"The reshuffle is aimed at responding to the general public's expectations. We hope the new cabinet can work to enhance the people's wellbeing," the premier said without taking questions.

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Taiwan's defense chief exits in Cabinet reshuffle

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Defence Minister Kao Hua-chu is stepping down as part of a Cabinet reshuffle, Premier Jiang Yi-huah said in a press conference.

The premier made the announcement in less than five minutes and then immediately left the press room without taking any questions from reporters or elaborating on Kao's resignation.

With Kao leaving the post, Deputy Defence Minister Andrew Yang will take the helm of the Ministry of National Defence (MND). Kao first requested to resign in mid-July following widespread anger over the death of Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu. President Ma Ying-jeou initially refused to accept Kao's resignation when he first offered it.

 
Taiwan defence minister quits after plagiarism allegation
Taiwan's newly appointed defence minister Andrew Yang (C) speaks to the press in parliament in Taipei on August 1, 2013. Yang resigned Tuesday after he was accused of plagiarism, less than a week after taking office to replace his predecessor who also stepped down
Taiwan's newly appointed defence minister Andrew Yang (C) speaks to the press in
 
Taiwan's scholar-turned defence minister resigned Tuesday after he was accused of plagiarism, less than a week after taking office to replace his predecessor who also stepped down.
 
Andrew Yang was promoted last week from deputy minister after his boss, Kao Hua-chu, had to resign over the death of a young conscript in an alleged military abuse case that has sparked outrage across the island.

The surprise resignation came after Kuan Pi-ling, a legislator from the major opposition Democratic Progressive Party, accused him of plagiarism over an article published in a book in 2007.

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Over 200,000 bid farewell to Hung

Over 50 percent of visitor arrivals from China: data
Over 200,000 protesters, all in white, pack Ketagalan Blvd. and the surrounding streets to demand the truth surrounding Corporal Hung Chung-chiu's death, last night, during a rally to “bid farewell” to Hung. (CNA/AP)

Over 200,000 people last night packed Ketagalan Blvd. in front of the Presidential Office to “bid farewell” to Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) and demand truth and justice regarding Hung's untimely death, according to Citizen 1985, organizer of the event.

The rally, the second of its kind, was held on the eve of the funeral service slated for this morning for the 24-year-old conscript. Hung died on July 4 of severe heatstroke apparently caused by being forced to exercise excessively, just two days before he was scheduled to be discharged.

The first rally, held in Taipei on July 20, drew some 30,000 participants to protest against the death of Hung after the alleged abuse he suffered while in service

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Citizen 1985: The mysterious group behind Taiwan's dead army corporal protests


Mother of Hung Chung-chiu speaks next to his portrait during a press conference

TAIPEI - On Saturday, at least 100,000 people all dressed in white packed Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office to "bid farewell" to Army Corporal Hung Chung-chiu (洪仲丘) and to demand truth and justice over his death.

Citizen 1985, an activist group made up of 39 members who did not know each other before Hung's death, organised the demonstration, one of the largest in years.

Members of Citizen 1985 insist on keeping a low profile even after the group has organised two strikingly well-attended rallies over the Hung case in a short time.

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Death of Taiwan conscript Hung Chung-chiu: The view from a Singaporean blogger
Reports on the death of Taiwanese conscript Corporal Hung Chung-chiu after he was allegedly mistreated by his military superiors make sad reading, particularly when circumstances linked to the 24-year-old's death are projected to Singapore's context

This weekend just past, thousands of Taiwanese gathered in Taipei to express outrage over the incident and show their anger towards the island's defence ministry and armed forces.

In the wake of the incident, Taiwan's Minister for National Defence, Kao Hua-chu resigned while senior commanders in CPL Hung's unit, 542 Armour Brigade, were hauled up for investigation.

Could the same happen here? Would the death of a full-time National Serviceman in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) topple the Defence Minister from his perch and lead to widespread protests in Singapore?

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Wall Street Journal: Soldier's Death Sparks Massive Protest in Taiwan
ECNS: The second mass protest held over Hung Chung-chiu's death in
BBC News: Taiwan protest over Hung Chung-chiu death
Asia News Network: Over 200,000 bid farewell to dead Taiwan Army conscript
Asia One: Over 200,000 bid farewell to Taiwan's dead army corporal