Ms Hazel Poa: To ask the Prime Minister (a) over the last 20 years, how many full-time and reservist National Servicemen in the SAF, SPF and SCDF respectively have (i) passed away while in service or (ii) suffered permanent disability from a service injury; and (b) what is the amount of compensation paid to the servicemen in these cases respectively.
Minister for Defence, Dr Ng Eng Hen (for the Prime Minister):
Every year, approximately 300,000 male Singaporeans and PRs perform their NS duties in the SAF, SPF and SCDF. They train, serve and respond as frontline troops in defending our nation, preserving law and order and dealing with civil emergencies. Over the last 20 years, a total of 42 national servicemen passed away due to service – 35 in the SAF, 4 in the SPF and 3 in the SCDF. Of these, a total of 6 deaths (2 SAF, 3 SPF and 1 SCDF) were due to traffic accidents on the way to or from work or while on official duties, which are covered under MINDEF’s and MHA’s compensation framework.
The corresponding figure over the same period for permanent disability to the brain, spinal cord, eyes or limbs due to serious service-related injuries totalled 52 cases – 43 in the SAF, 4 in the SPF and 5 in the SCDF. Of these, a total of 11 cases (8 SAF, 1 SPF and 2 SCDF) were due to traffic accidents.
The proportions of deaths and permanent disability due to service within the SAF, SPF and SCDF are therefore 0.001%, 0.001% and 0.002% respectively.
While both the rates of death and permanent disability due to service are low with reference to international or local benchmarks of comparable activity, the SAF and Home Team constantly strive to achieve a zero fatality rate. Every incident is investigated at the highest levels of command, with corrective measures taken to improve the safety under which our national servicemen to train and operate.
Every national serviceman is covered by injury and life insurance, bought on their behalf by MINDEF and MHA. Since 1 Jan 2023, the coverage under both policies has been doubled from a maximum of $150,000 to $300,000, providing a higher baseline pay out. In addition to this basic tier, further compensation is provided depending on the degree of disability and circumstances of injury or death.
Total compensation for service-related injuries and deaths takes reference from industrial benchmarks such as the Work Injury Compensation Act (WICA), but is set several times higher to reflect the mandatory nature of National Service. The amounts vary considerably due to individualised circumstances and is reflected by the wide range of payouts, from several thousand dollars to more than $1.5 million, for deaths or permanent disability due to operations or training. For the same injury and comparable circumstances, the total compensation provided to national servicemen, is about four times of the amounts paid under the WICA.
Servicemen who sustain service-related injuries are also provided with free medical treatment for their injury for as long as is medically necessary, at SAF/SPF/SCDF medical facilities and public healthcare institutions.