Criminal proceedings almost certain in death of SCDF NSF, says Shanmugam

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's wake in Melaka on Tuesday. The NSF was found unconscious in a station pump well after ragging activities.
HOME AFFAIRS AND LAW MINISTER K. SHANMUGAMPHOTOS: JONATHAN CHOO, GOV.SG/YOUTUBE
Corporal Kok Yuen Chin's wake in Melaka on Tuesday. The NSF was found unconscious in a station pump well after ragging activities.
Corporal Kok Yuen Chin's wake in Melaka on Tuesday. The NSF was found unconscious in a station pump well after ragging activities.PHOTOS: JONATHAN CHOO, GOV.SG/YOUTUBE

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

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Home Affairs and Law 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."

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, he added.

Referring to Corporal 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."

UNACCEPTABLE INCIDENT

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.

HOME AFFAIRS AND LAW MINISTER K. SHANMUGAM, on the case of full-time national serviceman Kok Yuen Chin' s death.

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

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had said that among the officers involved in the ongoing police investigations, two SCDF regulars had been arrested and another four had their upcoming promotions withheld.

Speaking after Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen's statement about the recent NSF deaths in Parliament, Mr Shanmugam said there will almost certainly be criminal proceedings in Cpl Kok's case. MHA has released all the details it can at this stage.

Mr Shanmugam said there is also a fair bit of evidence about what had happened, including witnesses and other "objective evidence", but it would be inappropriate to go into details of the facts 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."

Highlighting SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap's letter to SCDF officers earlier on Wednesday evening, Mr Shanmugam stressed 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.

SEE FORUM

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2018, with the headline 'Criminal proceedings almost certain in death of SCDF NSF, says Shanmugam'. Print Edition | Subscribe