SCDF ragging death: Officers dismissed concerns that the young serviceman couldn’t swim and did not attempt to stop the incident

SCDF ragging death: Officers dismissed concerns that the young serviceman couldn’t swim and did not attempt to stop the incident

A couple of Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers are contesting the charges against them in relation to the ragging incident which led to the death of a full-time national servicemen back in May 2018.

The two officers, Kenneth Chong Chee Boon (lieutenant) and Nazhan Mohamed Nazi (first senior warrant officer) were the commander and deputy commander of the station that night.

The incident which occurred at the Tuas View Fire Station involved several SCDF officers allegedly ragging a 22-year old Corporal Kok Yuen Chin during a celebration to mark the completion of his national service. The young man drowned when he was thrown into a pump well at the station.

In July 2018, five officers were charged with aiding a rash act by illegal omission that cause grievous hurt. They had allegedly failed to prevent a group of servicemen from pressuring Cpl Kok from entering the pump well, thereby endangering his life.

In October last year, Nur Fatwa, 34, was sentenced to one year and four weeks’ jail for causing death by rash act while staff sergeant Adighazali Suhaimi, 33, was sentenced to one month’s jail  last December for deleting the video footage of Cpl Kok being pushed into the pump well.

The young serviceman was pushed into the well during the celebration but things took a turn for the worse when he did not surface. About 36 minutes had passed before they managed to get him out of the well.

During the trial on Monday (10 June) of the two officers who are contesting their charges, one staff sergeant (SSgt) Al-Khudaifi Chang recounted the incident, noting that no one had tried to stop the ragging.

“During the whole time, no one told us to stop and no one mentioned the word ‘stop’,” said SSgt Chang.

He also said that Chong and Nazhan were present in the control room during the cake-cutting ceremony just before the pump well incident with a number of other people, more than 10 in total.

SSgt Chang recalled that Nazhan had walked with the group towards the pump well but left less than 5 minutes later.

Also, he said that Chong stuck his head out of a window in the nearby control room at one point to tell the group not to record any video of the incident. The men present raised their hands to show that they did not have their handphones on them. SSgt Chang added that Cpl Kok had told him before the incident that he could not swim.

At the pump well, the issue was raised again, said the staff sergeant, but it was dismissed as there was another officer present who the group believed was a good swimmer and could jump in to save Cpl Kok if necessary.

In court, a video of the events leading to the incident were shown. One of the video showed Cpl Kok sitting on the edge of the pump well laughing and joking with the officers around him. Another showed him being pushed in.

The trial continued on Monday afternoon and is expected to end within two weeks.

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