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     FrontPage Edition: Mon 17 September 2007

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Defence Minister speaks on Cpl Dave Teo in Parliament


Minister Teo Chee Hean Replies To Parliamentary Questions On CPL Dave Teo
An Excerpt
HBOI Case Findings
Mr Speaker, Sir, let me now turn to the HBOI’s findings on the case in question. CPL Dave Teo Ming, a 20 year old fulltime National Serviceman, was serving as an Infantryman in the 1st Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment, or 1 SIR.
Prior to enlistment CPL Teo was assessed to be suitable for service as an infantryman. CPL Teo’s service record during full-time NS, from his enlistment till 2 September 2007 did not indicate behaviour that warranted disqualification from bearing firearms.
CPL Teo was observed to have performed well during his unit's overseas proficiency evaluation exercise in April this year.
CPL Teo was interviewed by his Platoon Commander in June this year, who noted that that he was stressed over relationship problems with his girlfriend.
However, in the two interviews following that, the last being in August, he did not raise the issue of his failed relationship again. During the two weeks prior to the incident on 2 September, neither his Platoon Commander nor his bunk mate noticed any unusual behaviour by CPL Teo.
CPL Teo was on Guard Duty and assigned patrol duties at Mandai Hill Camp on the night of 2 September 2007. In line with procedures, he was properly issued his personal firearm, a SAR 21 rifle, and five rounds of 5.56mm ammunition at the start of his shift at 2000hrs.
His Guard Commander realised that he was absent from his place of duty at 2359hrs, when he did not return his firearm and ammunition at the end of his shift.
A search was immediately initiated for the missing serviceman as well as for his firearm and ammunition.
When preliminary investigations by the Military Police indicated that the missing firearm and ammunition were no longer on the camp premises, the Singapore Police were contacted at 0545hrs.
The SAF worked closely with the Police and at about 2000hrs on 3 September 2007, CPL Teo was apprehended at Orchard Cineleisure. I must commend the Police on a job well done in apprehending CPL Teo and in recovering his weapon and the ammunition.
When CPL Teo was arrested, his firearm and eight rounds of ammunition were recovered.
All five rounds of 5.56mm ammunition which were issued to him for guard duty on 2 September were recovered.
Investigations have traced the additional three 5.56mm tracer rounds to a batch of ammunition that was used during a section live firing exercise that CPL Teo participated in two weeks earlier, in August 2007. The police and the SAF are still investigating exactly how he acquired these three tracer rounds.
HBOI Conclusions about Lapses
Sir, the HBOI concluded that although the SAF’s systems and procedures are generally adequate, this incident involved three lapses specific to this situation.
First, there were weaknesses in the implementation and supervision of Guard Room procedures at Mandai Hill Camp that night.
Secondly, weaknesses in the physical construction of Mandai Hill Camp also enabled CPL Teo to slip out without being detected.
Thirdly, in terms of post-incident management, there was non-compliance with reporting procedures which require the quick reporting of all serious incidents, such as those involving missing arms and ammunition.
Guard Room Duties
There are clear procedures, laid out in detail, for all activities under the purview of the Guard Room. Guard duties involve sentry and patrolling duties.
CPL Teo was assigned patrolling duties on the night of the incident. Procedures require patrolling duties to be conducted on 2 hour shifts and in pairs, to ensure mutual support and responsibility while on duty. Guards on patrol duties are also required to make situational reports to the Guard Room at half hourly intervals.
These procedures were not carried out properly on the night that CPL Teo was on duty. If they had been properly enforced, it would have been extremely difficult for him to have left camp undetected, and even if he had managed to slip out, his absence would probably have been detected and reported earlier.
Following this incident the SAF has audited and reviewed the camp guard security of all SAF camps to determine whether such non-compliance of orders and procedures exist in other camps.
The audit found that SAF camps comply with the relevant orders and procedures, and that this is a problem localised to this unit. Nonetheless, all SAF units have reiterated the importance of adhering to orders and procedures, and the SAF has stepped up the frequency of security audits of all SAF camps to ensure compliance with stipulated camp guard procedures.
Camp Physical Security
Investigations based on video footage from the security cameras show that CPL Teo did not leave camp by the Camp gates.
Investigations have shown that CPL Teo absconded by jumping off the far corner of the second floor parapet of the Guard Room onto the car park outside the Camp premises, and he was out of the visual scope of the other Guards.
Before doing so, he had dismantled his rifle and concealed it in his field pack. That he managed to do so, revealed a weakness in the physical security of the camp – which was designed to prevent unauthorised entry, rather than unauthorised exit, - a weakness which has since been rectified at Mandai Hill Camp.
Since this incident, we have done a thorough audit of the physical security of all SAF camps and guard rooms. Most of them fully meet the physical security requirements. A few require some improvements. We are in the process of implementing these improvements and have tightened our camp physical security standards.
Post-Incident Reporting
For serious security incidents such as those involving missing arms and ammunition, the unit’s Duty Operations Officer is required to report the incident to the Army's General Staff Operations Centre, within 30 minutes.
In this case, CPL Teo, together with his firearm and ammunition, were discovered missing by the Guard Commander at 2359hrs on 2 September, but the Army’s General Staff Operations Centre was only informed of the incident at 0300hrs.
The Military Police were alerted at 0330hrs. When preliminary investigations by the Military Police indicated that the missing firearm and ammunition were no longer on the camp premises, the Police were contacted at 0545hrs.
This is a significant breach of reporting standards. The criticality of swift reporting of incidents, in particular those involving missing arms and ammunition, has been impressed upon all SAF units.
Mr Speaker, concrete action has been taken to rectify the three lapses identified by the HBOI. Personnel found to have been negligent in their conduct of duties in this case will also be disciplinarily dealt with.

Full Text of Speech

Source: News Release 17 Sep 2007

Related Article:
- Police arrest armed full-time national serviceman in Orchard Road

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