Duty commander on trial for SCDF ragging death did not consider entering pump well as dangerous

Kenneth Chong Chee Boon said that he had voluntarily gone inside a similar well years ago while being egged on by his fellow officers, and did not regard entering it as dangerous.
Kenneth Chong Chee Boon said that he had voluntarily gone inside a similar well years ago while being egged on by his fellow officers, and did not regard entering it as dangerous.ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer allegedly involved in a 2018 ragging incident, in which a full-time national servicemen (NSF) drowned in a 12m-deep pump well, testified that he did not consider getting pushed or thrown in the well as "necessarily ragging" if it was not done maliciously.

Kenneth Chong Chee Boon, 39, also said on Monday (March 9) that he had voluntarily gone inside a similar well years ago while being egged on by his fellow officers, and did not regard entering it as dangerous.

The officer was testifying at his own trial, where he is accused of failing to prevent a group of servicemen from pressuring NSF Corporal Kok Yuen Chin to enter the pump well at Tuas View Fire Station on the night of May 13, 2018.

Cpl Kok, 22, eventually drowned after he was pushed into the well during a celebration to mark the impending completion of his national service.

Chong, a lieutenant, and Nazhan Mohamed Nazi, 41, a first senior warrant officer, were commander and deputy commander respectively of the station that night. Both men are on trial for their involvement in Cpl Kok's death.

Three other regulars have already been convicted and sentenced for their involvement in the NSF's death.

The court had previously heard that Chong and Nazhan were present at the cake-cutting ceremony for Cpl Kok's celebration earlier that night.

Witnesses testified that the "kolam" ritual, which involved making an SCDF officer descend the station's pump well, was brought up during the cake-cutting.

After the presentation of a plaque to Cpl Kok, some officers grabbed him and carried him towards the pump well.

 
 
 
 

One of the officers, Muhammad Nur FatwaMahmood, then pushed Cpl Kok, who did not know how to swim, into the well, where he drowned.

Nur Fatwa was sentenced in 2018 to one year and four weeks in jail for pushing Cpl Kok into the well and telling another officer to delete footage of the incident. He has completed the sentence.

On Monday, Chong told the court that he first observed the "kolam" ritual when he was a junior officer in another station.

He said that he had also entered a pump well before, at the behest of his fellow officers.

Chong also said that he did not consider both instances as "ragging" as there was no malicious intent or intention to bully by the other officers.

Chong is expected to continue his testimony on Tuesday (March 10).