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Witness in SCDF ragging death says his memory of the incidents may be faulty

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In the ongoing trial of two SCDF officers in the ragging death of Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, who drowned when he was pushed into the Tuas View Fire Station pump well on May 13, 2018, a witness said that his memories of one of the officer stopping an earlier “kolam” threat that day may not be accurate.

The witness, First Warrant Officer Mulifatullah Atan, had mentioned that another SCDF member had tried to “kolam” (put someone in a well) Cpl Kok earlier that day.

Upon cross-examination, Mulifatullah grew less sure of his testimony and later said he could not remember details of the incident before Cpl Kok’s drowning.

First, Mulifatullah said rota commander Kenneth Chong Chee Boon had stepped in to stop the earlier threat of “kolam.”

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But he could not back this statement saying he had recalled the incident wrongly when he was pressed for more details during cross-examination.

Mulifatullah says a few hours before Cpl Kok drowned, several of them were playing football and then Staff Sergeant Al-Khudaifi Chang had taken hold of Cpl Kok.

Mulifatullah says he heard the Staff Sergeant tell Cpl Kok the word “kolam.”

Chong and first senior warrant officer Nazhan Mohamed Nazi, the deputy rota commander, are on trial.

The two men are charged with aiding a rash act that caused grievous hurt by illegal omission, for reportedly having failed to prevent a group of officers from forcing CPL Kok into the pump well.

Wee Pan Lee, Chong’s defense lawyer, then recalled how Staff Sgt Chang’s narration of the incident was different. The Staff Sgt had said that he had gotten into a friendly fight with Cpl Kok during the football game, but had said nothing concerning “kolam.”

Whereupon Mr Mulifatullah said,

“I heard someone mention kolam… but I don’t remember if he’s the one.”

On the night of the incident, the men had shared a cake in celebration of Cpl Kok’s coming Operationally Ready Date (ORD).

According to Mr Mulifatullah, he stepped out of the control room in the middle of the celebration and was talking to Mr Nazhan. When he came back into the control room he only saw Mr Chong with Sergeant Mohamed Hanis Mohamed Hussain.

But Sgt Hanis said earlier that he had also left the control group and upon his return, only saw Chong, not Mulifatullah.

This caused Mulifatullah to backtrack, saying he could no longer recall with certainty if Sgt Hanis had been in the room.

Mr Wee told Mulifatullah,

“You have asserted something you could have been mistaken about. Having said he was there, and now saying he was not there, this raises questions about which part of your evidence is like that too.”

/ TISG

Read related: Station commander in SCDF ragging death says he would have stopped the ‘kolam’ ritual

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