Man killed at Rifle Range workplace was getting married, moving house and starting new job in 2023

Samuel Devaraj
The Straits Times
Dec 29, 2022

Mr Ely Chow was going to get married in September 2023 and move into his new Build-To-Order flat in Ghim Moh soon after.

But the 31-year-old was killed on Tuesday after he was struck and pinned down by a machine that toppled while being moved by a forklift at 601 Rifle Range Road. The site, near Upper Peirce Reservoir, is occupied by ST Engineering Advanced Material Engineering.

Speaking to The Straits Times at his wake in Ghim Moh on Thursday, his sister, Ms Ruth Chow, 33, said his future was taken from him in an instant.

The housewife said: “All this was robbed from him just like that. As much as you want to think, ‘Okay, it was an accident’, but how much of an accident is an accident?”

Mr Ely Chow was employed by labour supply firm RCM Resources.

Mr Ethan Chow, 28, said his brother started working for the firm as a general worker in June 2022 and was due to leave the part-time gig and start a new job in January 2023.

Mr Ely Chow, who was passionate about animals, had studied marine life and aquaculture at the University of Tasmania. He stayed on in Australia after graduating, working in abalone and fish farming for two years till his visa expired in 2019.

In Singapore, he worked in various jobs – a role with a fish farm and another with the National Parks Board – before working for RCM Resources.

Mr Ethan Chow, who cut short a trip to Genting with his wife when he heard about the accident, said they were close.

He said: “Whenever I was troubled, I remember going to Starbucks and having a one-on-one conversation with him, anything under the sun and he would listen. He just had the appropriate advice to give me. I really miss him.”

Ms Chow said Mr Ely Chow’s fiancee, a 33-year-old sales occupation analyst, was distraught following his death.

The couple had been together for more than a year, having met through a mutual friend in church.

They were planning to live with his parents after their wedding while waiting for their new flat to be ready.

Mr Ely Chow lived with his father, 69, a part-time technician, and mother, a 62-year-old housewife, in a Housing Board flat in Ghim Moh.

His two siblings live in different units in the same block with their families and would gather several times a week at one of the flats for home-cooked dinners.

Mr Ethan Chow said he and his brother spent Christmas at a relative’s home, and regrets forgetting to take photographs.

On Wednesday, the police said a 62-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of causing death by a negligent act. It is not clear what his role was in the accident, and police investigations are ongoing.

This was the 45th workplace death so far in 2022, the highest number recorded since 2016 when 66 people died.

Ms Chow said her family hopes the authorities can investigate workplace fatalities thoroughly, with the number of such incidents this year pointing to gaps in areas that may not be adequately addressed.

More than just dealing with negligence or enhancing supervisory roles, she suggested it may be time to admit there is a lack of a safety culture here. She also called for greater support to be provided to the families of such victims.

She added: “We can accept that accidents happen, but at the back of our minds, it’s like, ‘Why did this happen?’

“We want to know why this accident couldn’t be prevented. Every time we read the news, there are so many fatalities. In the blink of an eye, things happen when you are not careful.

“So we want to try to make everyone more aware of the seriousness of workplace safety.”

The Straits Times

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