SINGAPORE: The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it has meted out "deterrent" punishments like detention for ragging activities, as it acknowledged the existence of such activities in the force.
"SCDF adopts a zero-tolerance policy against unauthorised activities such as 'ragging', and continually reinforces the deterrent measures against such activities," it said.
SCDF's statement follows a Channel NewsAsia report that shed light on the different ragging activities that SCDF servicemen engage in to mark milestones like reaching their operationally ready date (ORD) or retirement.
On May 13, SCDF full-time national serviceman Kok Yuen Chin died after he was found unconscious at the bottom of a 12m-deep fire station pump well. He had gone into the well as part of activities to celebrate his impending ORD.
On Tuesday, the police said that preliminary investigation findings indicate that "visible injuries" on the late serviceman's body were sustained in the well and during the rescue process.
The SCDF highlighted five cases of unauthorised activities from May 2010 to August 2015 that led to the detention of officers in the SCDF detention barracks.
Channel NewsAsia has contacted SCDF regarding the total number of reported cases over the years.
In the May 2010 case, SCDF said it punished seven officers with detention ranging from 15 to 23 days after two new officers were coerced to undergo an initiation session at their fire station’s pump well.
"They entered the well, and one of them later reported the incident to the SCDF," it added.
In the most recent highlighted case in August 2015, four officers were each punished with 10 days of detention for spraying white paint onto a new officer's chest, thighs and back as part of an initiation ritual.
The other cases involve using a dirty mop to rub and hit new officers’ heads and bodies, and applying toothpaste on graduating officers who were asleep, SCDF added.
Officers have been served detention of between three and 40 days in the examples highlighted.
SCDF said officers are allowed to report wrongful practices to their immediate supervisors, unit commander, director, commissioner and the Ministry of Home Affairs under a whistleblowing programme.
"Briefings on anti-ragging awareness are conducted for all personnel upon joining the SCDF, upon their postings to units, and at periodic intervals," it added.
"Anti-ragging materials such as videos and posters are produced and disseminated to increase officers’ awareness of SCDF’s zero-tolerance policy against ragging."
For NSF who break the rules, SCDF said their errant behaviour will be recorded in their Certificate of Service.
"Officers who carry out ragging activities will be liable for prosecution if there is criminal wrongdoing," it added.