SINGAPORE - Five Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) personnel were charged on Wednesday (July 25) in relation to the death of full-time national serviceman Kok Yuen Chin allegedly during a ragging incident.
Another eight officers present during the incident at Tuas View Fire Station on May 13 are being investigated by SCDF.
The five men charged on Wednesday are Mohammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood, 33; Mohamed Farid Mohamed Saleh, 34; Kenneth Chong Chee Boon, 37; Nazhan Mohamed Nazi, 40; and Adighazali Suhaimi, 32.
Staff Sergeant Nur Fatwa was charged with committing a rash act causing death and abetting the obstruction of the course of justice by instigation. He had allegedly pushed Corporal Kok into a pump well, causing him to drown.
First Warrant Officer Farid was charged with abetting a rash act causing death. He had allegedly instigated Staff Sgt Nur Fatwa to push Cpl Kok into the pump well.
Lieutenant Chong and First Senior Warrant Officer Nazhan were each charged with abetting a rash act causing grievous hurt by illegal omission. The duo had allegedly failed to prevent a group of servicemen from pressuring Cpl Kok to enter the pump well, thereby endangering his life.
Staff Sgt Adighazali was charged with intentionally obstructing the course of justice by deleting a video recording on his mobile phone of Cpl Kok being pushed into the pump well.
All the officers, except for Staff Sgt Nur Fatwa, are due to appear in court again on Sept 3.
Staff Sgt Nur Fatwa's lawyer said that her client intends to plead guilty. His case will be heard on Sept 25.
The police said in a statement on Wednesday that they have referred eight other officers who were present during the incident to SCDF for departmental investigations.
SCDF confirmed this, adding that six of them are regular officers and two are full-time national servicemen (NSFs).
Cpl Kok, 22, died after he was found unconscious inside the pump well at the fire station.
The Singapore permanent resident from Malaysia had been celebrating his impending operationally ready date with his squad mates, which involved him getting into the pump well as part of ragging activities. He would have completed his service in two days.
A day after his death, Staff Sgt Nur Fatwa and First Warrant Officer Farid were arrested and suspended from service on half-pay pending the outcome of investigations, The Straits Times understands.
Shortly after the arrests, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that four more officers were under investigation and had their promotions withheld as a result.
A Board of Inquiry (BOI) was convened to look into Cpl Kok's death and to make recommendations to prevent similar incidents. The board is chaired by a senior director from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
The BOI also includes members who are not from the MHA or the SCDF, and will submit its report to the Minister for Home Affairs.
Following Cpl Kok's death, the SCDF beefed up its anti-ragging measures, including installing metal grating across the openings of fire-station pump wells to prevent unauthorised access.
Other measures include the expansion of closed-circuit television camera coverage at SCDF premises to deter and detect unauthorised activities.
SCDF said that if the eight officers under departmental investigations are found to have contravened SCDF rules and regulations, the regular officers will face public service disciplinary actions, which may include dismissal from service or demotion in rank.
The NSFs will be liable for detention and/or demotion in rank under the Civil Defence Act.
In its statement, SCDF added that it takes a zero-tolerance stance towards ragging and that it will take firm action against any officer found to be involved in such activities.
Anyone convicted of a rash act causing death may face a jail term of up to five years, a fine, or both.