Parliament: Criminal proceedings 'almost certain' over death of SCDF NSF, says K. Shanmugam

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There will almost "certainly" be criminal proceedings over the death of Singapore Civil Defence Force full-time national serviceman Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam.
Corporal Kok Yuen Chin died after he was found unconscious inside a pump well at Tuas View Fire Station on May 13, 2018. ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

SINGAPORE - There will almost "certainly" be criminal proceedings taken over the death of Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) full-time national serviceman (NSF), Corporal Kok Yuen Chin.

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday (May 17), Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said: "There will almost certainly be criminal proceedings. The Attorney-General's Chambers has told me that, after reviewing the facts at this stage.

"Based on the facts that I have seen, I think so too. There should be criminal charges."

He added that the SCDF and Home Team agencies are relooking the rules and coming up with a new set of measures against ragging or unauthorised conduct.

He said they will see what went wrong, and learn the lessons, looking into what more can be done to stop this behaviour.

Referring to Cpl Kok's case, Mr Shanmugam said: "What I can say is that the conduct was unacceptable. It was a clear and serious violation of the rules, and there can be no excuse for the conduct."

Cpl Kok, 22, died after going through ragging activities that involved him getting into a fire station pump well. He had been celebrating his impending operationally-ready date with station mates on Sunday and was later found unconscious in the pump well.

Speaking after Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen's statement about recent NSF deaths in Parliament, Mr Shanmugam said there will almost "certainly" be criminal proceedings.

He said the Home Affairs ministry has released all the details they can at this stage.

Mr Shanmugam said there is also a fair bit of evidence on what had happened, including witnesses and other "objective evidence", but it would be inappropriate to go into detail at this point.

A Board of Inquiry, which will look into Cpl Kok's death and make recommendations to prevent similar incidents, will be chaired by a senior director from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

"Majority of the members will be from outside the Government," said Mr Shanmugam, adding that the facts will be made public through court proceedings.

"Everything that is relevant will be out," he said.

Highlighting SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap's letter to SCDF officers earlier on Wednesday evening, Mr Shanmugam emphasised that it was the command's responsibility to ensure that unauthorised activities, such as ragging, are not repeated.

"Parents send their children to NS, they trust us. We have to maintain their trust," he said.

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