SINGAPORE: Criminal proceedings may be launched against those found responsible for the drowning of a full-time national serviceman (NSF) from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
"The State Coroner may call for an inquiry into the death. The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) is also reviewing the case with a view to criminal proceedings," said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in a media release on Wednesday (May 16).
MHA added that the two SCDF regulars who were arrested over the incident will be interdicted from service on half-pay, pending the outcome of police investigations.
Four other officers who are being investigated will have their promotions withheld in the meantime. They were supposed to be promoted on Jun 1.
MHA also announced that the Board of Inquiry convened to look into the incident and make recommendations will be chaired by a senior director from the Ministry of Trade and Industry. It will include members who are not from MHA or the SCDF.
UNIT COMMANDERS WILL BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY UNAUTHORISED ACTIVITIES
In a message to SCDF officers on Wednesday, Commissioner Eric Yap made clear that unit commanders will be held accountable and responsible for any unauthorised initiation or ragging activities by anyone under their charge.
The NSF who died, Corporal (CPL) Kok Yuen Chin, drowned on Sunday after he went into a 12m-deep pump well as part of activities to celebrate his impending Operationally Ready Date.
“I had personally briefed all commanders yesterday and underlined the importance of command responsibility,” said Commissioner Yap.
“Commanders are entrusted with the responsibility to look after the men and women who risk their lives every day. It is our duty to ensure they are not harmed or demeaned by the actions of others,” he added.
“There must be zero tolerance for any officer who contravenes the rules, and we must take all necessary measures to eradicate such activities.”
Commissioner Yap warned that those who are aware of such ragging activities being carried out, yet do nothing to stop or report them, also bear responsibility.
He said: “Each day, we put our lives at risk to protect and save lives and property. We pride ourselves on being the Life Saving Force. But amongst us, there may be some who flout the rules, or turn a blind eye to unauthorised initiation or ragging activities being carried out by officers who clearly do not embrace our core values.”
Describing the death of CPL Kok as a “heartbreaking loss”, the commissioner said Wednesday marked the day he would have completed his two-year full-time national service with the SCDF.
He added that incident has damaged the credibility of the force.
“We must do our utmost to regain the trust of the public, the families who entrust their sons to us to serve their National Service, and our own men and women too,” said Commissioner Yap.
“Even as we mourn the loss of one of our own, we owe it to CPL Kok to ensure that this must never happen again.”