Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Death of full-time National Serviceman Lance-Corporal Muhammad Fahrurrazi Salim

Nothing moves without their green light and they can cancel a war game if they feel training safety is compromised.

Safety teams who oversee Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) peacetime training serve a vital role that comes into the spotlight whenever the SAF loses someone in a training incident. On other occasions, they are taken mostly for granted by soldiers, sailors and airmen they are assigned to protect and safeguard.

We see them around training areas and in prominently-marked safety vehicles, but do not know their names.

The death of Lance-Corporal Muhammad Fahrurrazi bin Salim, a full-time National Serviceman with the 1st Transport Battalion, turns what we have experienced with such sad incidents upside down because the trainees ended up providing aid to the safety team. It is usually the other way around.

Just 20 years old, LCP Fahrurrazi's mission brief saw him prepare to support a river crossing exercise in Brunei by adding one of two assault boats - 5.4-metre long aluminium craft powered by an outboard motor - to two others carrying medics and safety personnel. The third and fourth assault boats were spares for boats 1 and 2 that would be stationed near the water crossing site to ensure all went well.

Now, to have one spare assault boat for each craft on active duty underlines just how much HQ Lancer's training cadre values training safety. The soldiers who would have taken part in Sunday's river crossing would probably have been in good hands. Not only were safety elements outlined in training safety regulations in place, contingencies such as immobile boats were catered for thanks to NSFs like Fahrurrazi and team. He was more than just a boatman but an integral part of a safety apparatus dedicated to making sure trainees are kept safe.

LCP Fahrurrazi disappeared en route to his assigned mission under circumstances which are now under investigation. As fate decreed, some of the soldiers he would have watched over ended up searching a 12-kilometre stretch of Brunei's Batu Apoi river to find his body.

In a matter of days, that feel-good sensation many Singaporeans felt watching our country's 47th National Day Parade seems to have disappeared. Although many netizens do not know Fahrurrazi, how many of us felt disappointment tinged with a sense of hope - however faint - that the search would not be fruitless?

Many non-Muslim Singaporeans would have been only painfully aware that Fahrurrazi's family was only a week away from one of the key celebrations on the Muslim calendar.

For those of us who have seen firsthand how Muslim servicemen endure military training during the holy month of Ramadan, the quiet determination of NSFs like LCP Fahruzzazi in carrying out his duty quite possibly evokes feelings of admiration for what the NSF had to go through during fasting month.

Early this morning, the SAF search party found the young soldier they were ordered to find.

While the end result is not what many of us had prayed and hoped for, his homecoming today may help his loved ones eventually find closure.

Related post:
When a member of the SAF dies in service. Read the post here.


Anonymous said...

pity the president n wife did not attend the funeral but manage to go to london for the olympic.no minister attend but able to welcome the winning medals at the airport.pity the only hopeful son die for a state only received a condelence bouquet from the government.

Anonymous said...

MINDEF is entirely opaque and hypocritical when it comes to the truth.

Anonymous said...

August 14, 2012 9:26 PM

Agreed. For $4 million a year, pension, luxury and benefits, I think he should attend every unfortunate NSF's funeral.

Btw this is the 5th SAF death this year.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the river crossing was preceded by any exercises or JCC type activities. I should think so, otherwise there is no need to go all the way to the Brunei jungle when the river crossing exercise itself can be performed here.

If the victim was tired from trekking the Seven Knolls for days, it would make river crossings in a dangerous place all the more dangerous.

Anonymous said...

Let stop blaming the President, DM etc for not attending the funneral. No one wish this to happen. At the end it is not who attend the funneral but rather the appropriate investigation and corrective action to get it right to avoid a re-occurance.

Anonymous said...

Even if the Whole Cabinet was at the Funeral. The Deceased would not return to life.
Worse, if stones and sand were used as protest material. Got to avoid that at all cost. Remember that emotions would be difficult to control under that circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Yes, in this day and age in Singapore and given the circumstances of death, one would expect Ng Eng Hen to attend the funeral or at the airport to greet the hearse and all. At least the COA flew to Brunei during the search mission.
Then again, I am not really surprised. One does things not just by requirement of protocol but with one' own heart. If you watch WP MPs carefully in their party/constituency events, you will find that they frequently fold up their sleeves to help with packing up and other odds and ends. Do you expect PAP MPs or ministers to pick litter, clear tables, serve drinks when no camera is around. It is about the heart and if one does not have the heart, people will know sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

It is a pity that such an incident has happened. But it could have been prevented if only the Defence has implemented all soldiers to wear the Class B AIS transponder for man. Because the transponder will send out the lat & long position to the base station where you can able to speed up in locating the missing person.
Hope the Defence can look into this solution.
Saving life should not be compromised.

Anonymous said...

I agree with above contributor. I used to do long distance hiking in the 90s and early 2000s. EPIRBs were already getting quite common among hikers in more remote trails or areas more than 10 years ago. A suitable equivalent should be introduced for situations where lone soldiers operate on a solo basis.