The Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF) has confirmed that it is looking into two videos capturing an alleged ragging incident involving officers from the Force that occurred last year. The videos have surfaced after an SCDF full-time national serviceman (NSF) died last week after he was found unconscious at the bottom of Tuas View fire station pump well.
SCDF is investigating into two videos about a ragging incident that took place in early 2017 at the old Jurong Fire Station. SCDF will not tolerate any ragging or unauthorised initiation activities.
Both the videos were first sent to Mediacorp news channel, Channel NewsAsia, which alerted the SCDF to the content of the clips. The channel reported that the videos lasted 16 seconds and 40 seconds, respectively, and that the person who sent the videos did not want to be named.
According to the channel, the first video shows what looks like an SCDF officer being dragged along the floor by two similarly dressed officers as two other officers follow behind. The group reach a flight of stairs, at which point the officer being dragged sits up and says, “I’m not doing it.”
His colleagues, however, continue to drag him by the ear and his arms down the stairs and past a fire engine as laughter can be heard in the background of the video.
In the second video, an officer – who appears to be the same victim from the previous clip – can reportedly be seen struggling in a water-filled well. The video, which opens with laughter, shows the officer struggling in water that reaches up to his neck as he holds on the the edge of a well with one hand while holding onto an SCDF life jacket with his remaining hand.
A voice in the background can reportedly be heard saying, “You’re still operational you know,” before another voice can allegedly be heard saying, “ORD (operationally ready date) already is it?”
The video ends with the officer who was in the well saying, “This is deep,” while another person responds, “Do you know how deep it is? Deeper than what I told you.”
The NSF who passed away last week, Corporal (CPL) Kok Yuen Chin, had gone into the pump well to celebrate his impending ORD with his squad mates. The SCDF revealed that a “mishap” arose due to activities which are prohibited and that two SCDF regulars were arrested by the police.
A later media report revealed that it is believed the NSF, who was due to ORD this Wednesday, was ragged into entering the well. An unknown source allegedly contacted TNP and reported that ragging is typically done to mark an NSF’s end in the Force.
Ragging in the SCDF can allegedly include acts such as pinning an NSF to the ground and applying boot polish to their skin or even throwing an NSF into a pool. Ragging is banned in the Force though it is reportedly still carried out.
It remains unclear how CPL Kok entered the well.
Meanwhile, Law Minister K Shanmugam has called for an audit to look into CPL Kk’s untimely death. The Minister told reporters that the “conduct of some of the people involved” was in “clear violation” of the SCDF’s rules and called the incident a “celebration gone wrong” that resulted in the “tragic loss” of a “young man full of potential”.
He added: “The facts I’ve been given so far, they make it quite clear that conduct was quite wrong of some of the people involved. It was in clear violation of SCDF’s rules, it should not have happened, unacceptable, period…Details will be released in due course.”
The Minister further said: “I’ve also asked SCDF to do an audit. Any other evidence of such conduct, take action, because we have to send a clear message…Action has been taken before when conduct which is not sanctioned has taken place, celebrations or otherwise. But after a while, people forget and break the rules again.”
Shanmugam, who had met Kok’s family earlier today, did not wish to “give a descriptor to the incident” at this time, when he was asked whether this was a case of ragging gone wrong. SCDF deputy commissioner Chong Hoi Hung confirmed that this is the first such death.
Chong added: “SCDF will not condone unauthorised activities and we have been telling our commanders to brief the men properly to ensure they do not (commit them).”
Singaporeans responding to news that two videos of ragging have surfaced have responded with shock and fear over what future NS-men might undergo: