Wanted: Answers to Red Dye saga

Letter from Law Sin Ling, Straits Times Forum 12 Dec 07;

THE Ministry of Defence (Mindef) recently compensated car owners as well as farmers whose properties (cars and crops) were contaminated a little over two weeks ago by particles of red dye emitted during an open-air 'ground trial' conducted by the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Black Knights aerobatics team.

The ministry's move to placate the victims is understandable. It had previously announced that it was 'conducting further investigations' into the bungle, and that 'all reasonable claims arising from this incident will be considered'.

But how does Mindef assess the claims for compensation when it has yet to have a good measure of the extent of damage the airborne sediment inflicted on the farms, private/public properties and members of the public?

Mindef has hitherto not released any significant finding to render transparent the people behind the botch-up, and the magnitude.

Questions like the failure to appreciate meteorological factors (wind direction), chemical properties of the dye, and the preclusion of conducting the experiment in an enclosed environment, remain unanswered.

Hence one questions the basis of quantification of the compensation, and whether the amount is subject to further redress should additional damage be uncovered.

Another matter of grievance is the use of taxpayers' money to make compensation.

Lastly, Mindef was quick to assure the public that the dye in the fumes 'will not cause adverse health effects'. But there is no independent body to vouch for the claim that the dye particles would not result in health complications for the young and weak, such as infants and people with significant allergic reactions to the chemical in the dye.

Would Mindef be prepared to compensate anyone who suffers health degradation as a result of the dye? Would it reveal the chemical nature of the dye?

RELATED ARTICLES

Singapore vegetable farms hit by dye get cash payout

Jessica Lim, Straits Times 10 Dec 07;
After Day of the Red Dye
David Boey, Straits Times 4 Dec 07;

Prices unlikely to rise after destruction of contaminated vegetables: AVA
Channel NewsAsia 2 Dec 07;

AVA says vegetables in markets safe to eat: following checks on vegie farms with 'red spots' Channel NewsAsia 1 Dec 07;

Farmers told to destroy 200 tonnes of greens after red dye from airbase falls on them
Mindef says dye was from an aircraft being tested on the ground last Friday
Jessica Jaganathan & David Boey, Straits Times 1 Dec 07;

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