SINGAPORE: The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it is "committed to eradicating ragging" within its ranks, as it acts on recommendations by the Board of Inquiry that looked into the death of full-time national serviceman Corporal (CPL) Kok Yuen Chin on May 13, 2018.
In a news release on Thursday (Sep 13), SCDF said: "SCDF is committed to eradicating ragging within our ranks, and prevent any further tragic and needless loss of lives, even as our servicemen continue to serve the nation in fire-fighting and other emergency and rescue operations."
CPL Kok was found unconscious at the bottom of a 12m-deep fire station pump well which was filled with water, following activities to celebrate his impending Operationally Ready Date.
The inquiry found that he was pushed into the pump well at 9.07pm on May 13 as part of the celebration. CPL Kok was rescued from the well 36 minutes later and eventually found to have drowned.
Detailing the follow-up actions it is currently undertaking, SCDF highlighted three key areas being addressed:
- Reinforcing a culture of care and safety;
- Enhancing command responsibility across various levels of leadership; and
- Reviewing operational and training needs.
Back in May, the SCDF announced a series of measures to guard against ragging and unauthorised activities within the force.
They included reinforcing command responsibility in preventing such activities, introducing stiffer penalties against ragging, and enhancing feedback/monitoring channels for NSFs to report ragging incidents.
SCDF added that it will build on these measures and “institutionalise a code of conduct which will require all officers to internalise SCDF’s zero-tolerance stance against ragging, and acknowledge ragging as being contrary to SCDF’s core values.”
"As part of our efforts to build an anti-ragging ethos within SCDF, we will refine our anti-ragging briefings to make them more interactive. For example, we will also employ experiential learning, to ensure that the anti-ragging message is well-ingrained in our officers,” SCDF said.
Disciplinary and whistleblowing frameworks will also be enhanced to better assure victims and witnesses of ragging incidents that the interests of those who speak up will be protected.
SCDF said it is also developing a comprehensive programme on command responsibility to prevent ragging activities for officers across various levels of leadership.
"Among other things, the current training will be enhanced so that commanders know how to identify vulnerable individuals and pre-empt and prevent unacceptable behaviour in SCDF, including ragging.
Long-serving officers who are not in formal command positions but nevertheless wield informal influence on the ground will also be engaged, as anti-ragging ambassadors to further reinforce the anti-ragging message across SCDF,” it added.
Under operational and training needs, the SCDF announced the decommissioning of all 19 pump wells located at fire stations.
"Given that the testing of fire engine water pumps and related training can be conducted at the Civil Defence Academy (CDA) without affecting our operations, SCDF will decommission all the pump wells. Decommissioning involves filling up the wells with granite chips and covering them with concrete slabs," SCDF said.
The works to decommission the wells will be completed by December 2018.