It’s all anyone can talk about in the news this week.
I mean, it’s crazy, really, because Singapore hasn’t really experienced many incidents like the drowning of SCDF NSF Cpl Kok.
It’s crazy because we’re finally seeing that ragging isn’t all fun and games, or something to be taken lightly at all.
So here are 10 things you should know about ragging, the activity that took the life of NSF Corporal Kok.
1. Is Ragging the same as bullying?
Over the duration of this incident, I have personally witnessed many people use the term ragging and bullying quite interchangeably.
It’s interesting because according to the English dictionary, ragging is a form of prolonged and intense teasing.
And Wikipedia puts ragging as a type of initiation ritual (hazing) of recruits in organisations, meaning there is a psychological aspect to it too.
Ragging is a form of bullying, yes.
BUT ragging is a more dangerous form of bullying as it is done under the mentality of fostering a sense of brotherhood; building team-spirit; inculcating discipline and strength of character and so on.
It is a normalised form of bullying which honestly, is quite horrible.
So these acts of ragging (which can be quite intense), are made to be acceptable.
Let me just clarify: it’s not.
2. Ragging ‘Culture’
Ragging isn’t just something that is seen in SCDF or the Army or other similar organisations.
Did you know that some of the most common raggings comes from the tertiary level?
Remember the scandal a couple of years ago regarding the NUS orientation camps?
Yep, that’s ragging.
Remember those stories men that have gone through NS will tell you about blanket parties or trashing someone’s locker and so on?
Yep, also ragging.
3. Ragging is actually outlawed
You may not know this because of how casually people mention incidents of “teasing” or “games” in their NS or even Tertiary Orientation experiences.
But ragging is actually outlawed in Singapore.
Especially in government service organisations.
4. Stories from NSFs from Government Service Organisations
We spoke to some personnel from our Government Service Organisations (they have declined to be named as they would like to protect their privacy) about ragging culture.
They confirmed that ragging is 100% completely frowned upon in these organisations.
Air Force Officer: “Ragging? That’s completely frowned upon here. Maybe for initiation rites, sometimes we just have a bucket of water poured on us after we pass our first solo flight…that’s really about it. Ragging is very unacceptable and not tolerated at all so we don’t really do anything like that here.”
Navy ex-NSF: “Hmm, in my time there I didn’t experience or hear of anything going on. All I know was that it was a huge no-no. Like it’s really serious, you can’t do anything like that.”
SPF ex-NSF: “There are really big consequences if there are any instances of ragging going on. I mean, we’re the actual police. It’s a major offence. I didn’t experience or really even hear much of any such activities going on. Your life would be over if you got caught…”
We do have rotten eggs still.
But it’s good to know what Singapore has done thus far to outlaw such practices have been working, for the most part, to deter NSFs from taking part in ragging.
5. Bullying in Singapore
Did you know that Singapore has the third highest bullying rate out of all the countries in the world?
Did you also know that according to research done by JobCentral, nearly 1/4 of our entire workforce feel bullied at work?
Clearly, we have a problem that extends outside just SCDF or the Army or even Universities.
We have somehow managed to create a culture of bullying.
It’s quite shameful, really.
We better start doing something about it…All of us.
6. Legal Ramifications
Well, this is one very important fact for everyone to know.
Under the Singapore Penal Code (our set of governing laws), depending on how far you go in ragging activities, you can, and will, be held criminally responsible if discovered.
Here are a few charges that you could possibly be charged with if you take part in ragging acts:
- Culpable Homicide (s299)
- Voluntarily causing hurt
- Voluntarily causing grievous hurt
- Criminal force (Chapter 224, Section 350)
All of these charges come with either jail times (with and without caning), or fines, or both.
I hope that you can see that ragging is really no laughing matter.
7. Cyber Bullying
On the topic of ragging and bullying, it is good to know that any kind of ragging or bullying online is also punishable by law in Singapore.
So please let’s be good internet and social media users!
Because Singapore, as of 2014, has clamped down to make sure that there are laws in place to protect victims and any kind of ragging or bullying taking place.
Yep, you could be held criminally responsible!
8. SCDF and ragging
If you read the article published by Channel NewsAsia, you’d probably be shocked to read that an ex-firefighter talked about how ragging is a ‘deeply ingrained culture’ and how ‘it has been ‘cemented as part of the SCDF psyche and is unlikely to be going away anytime soon’.
I don’t know about you, but I found this quite unsettling.
Because how can parents send their children to NS when they fear that harm could come to them?
Again, don’t worry.
Law and Home Affairs Minister, K. Shanmugam has directed SCDF rules and regulations to be looked over, with more measures to be put in place to ensure this incident remains an anomaly and this entire culture is stamped out.
Things will be stricter than ever before, making it one of the safest places to be at the moment.
9. Effects of ragging
There are other effects of ragging that go beyond just the physical.
It has the potential to damage someone’s confidence, self-esteem, identity and so on.
And these effects are long-term.
So please, if you ever encounter any type of ragging in your place of school, work or service, speak up!
The damage done isn’t always on the outside.
10. Speaking up about ragging
The thing with ragging that we have discussed earlier, is that while it is bullying, it is a normalised form of bullying.
So this means that usually, the people involved in ragging don’t feel like they should be speaking up.
Because either they get ostracised, or they fear that since it’s so “normal”, they might be the oddball for not going along with whatever is in store for them.
It’s a tribe mentality. And we all want to belong, don’t we?
Sometimes we don’t feel like we are being bullied because it’s just something they have all went through so I should too.
But speak up, please.
It’s the only way this can stop.
It’s the only way this mindset and culture can be erased once and for all.
We hope you’ve learnt something about ragging, and that we will all work together to be agents of change in this matter.
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