SCDF ragging trial: Commander knew his men would make NSF Kok Yuen Chin enter well, court hears

SCDF ragging trial: Commander knew his men would make NSF Kok Yuen Chin enter well, court hears

Lieutenant Chong Chee Boon Kenneth
Lieutenant Chong Chee Boon Kenneth, one of the five SCDF officers charged in court over the death of NSF Kok Yuen Chin. (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: A commander on trial over the drowning of Corporal (CPL) Kok Yuen Chin, a full-time national serviceman in his rota, had said in a police statement that he knew his men were going to make the NSF go into a well, the court heard on Wednesday (Jun 12). 

CPL Kok, 22, died on May 13 last year after Staff Sergeant Muhammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood pushed him into a filled well during a celebration of CPL Kok's looming Operationally Ready Date. 

About 10 men had gathered at the pump well, filled with murky rainwater and typically used for training, at around 9pm that fateful day. 

The rota commander, 38-year-old Lieutenant Kenneth Chong Chee Boon, is accused along with deputy rota commander First Senior Warrant Officer Nazhan Mohamed Nazi of causing grievous hurt to CPL Kok by a rash act, by not stopping their men from putting him in the well.

READ: Death of SCDF NSF Kok Yuen Chin - Timeline of events

READ: NSF Kok Yuen Chin told group he could not swim while at ledge of well he drowned in

READ: SCDF officer who pushed NSF Kok Yuen Chin into well describes incident he has guilt, nightmares over

On Wednesday, the court heard that Chong had told the police in a statement: “When I saw officers at the well, I knew they were going to make Yuen Chin go into the well."

The court also heard that Chong acknowledged in the statement how he "expected that (CPL Kok) would be made to go down on his own" and how Chong had "failed (his) duty as a supervisor to stop them". 

Chong's defence lawyer Wee Pan Lee had told the court previously that there was no intention to throw CPL Kok into the well, and that Fatwa's act of pushing him inside was not announced in advance, hence "nobody expected it".

On Wednesday, Mr Wee reiterated that Chong trusted his men enough to know that they would not do anything CPL Kok would not want to do.

DEFENCE QUESTIONS POLICE STATEMENT

Mr Wee also grilled a prosecution witness, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Mahathir Mohamad, on the recording of some of Chong's statements. 

He asked if the statements had been recorded verbatim and if the words were entirely Chong's. 

ASP Mahathir said they were, but Mr Wee then put it to him that ASP Mahathir had discussed some parts with Chong and that what was recorded was not entirely a monologue. 

Referring to the sentence in which Chong said he knew the men were going to make CPL Kok go into the well, Mr Wee said there had been a discussion over the meaning of the word "make".

READ: SCDF ragging rituals - From being dunked in pump wells to blanket parties

READ: "Committed to eradicating ragging within our ranks" - SCDF implements follow-up actions after NSF death

"I'm putting to you that he did explain to you that when he used the word 'make' it could mean two things - it could mean that the person could enter the well on his own, but could also mean that the person would have been thrown involuntarily into the well," said Mr Wee.

"If he had said this, I would have written it down," answered ASP Mahathir. 

Witness accounts heard over the course of the trial so far have placed Chong at a window on the second floor of a building when the men were gathered around the well that night. 

Witnesses said Chong had shouted "no filming" to the men from the window. The men were said to have responded by raising their hands to show their phones. 

SCDF officers who took the stand had told the court that both Chong and Nazhan were in the control room when celebrations for CPL Kok's ORD were ongoing.

The trial, which is slated to run until Jun 21, continues on Thursday. 

Staff Sergeant Adighazali Suhaimi, who deleted an incriminating video of CPL Kok being pushed into the well, is expected to take the stand in the afternoon.

If found guilty of causing grievous hurt by a rash act, the commanders face a maximum of four years' jail, a S$10,000 fine or both.

Other than Fatwa, who was given a year and four weeks' jail, Adighazali has also been sentenced, receiving one month's jail.

The remaining officer to be dealt with is First Warrant Officer Mohamed Farid Mohd Saleh, who is set for a trial.

Source: CNA/ll(hs)

Bookmark