Let me tell you something…
This week has been pretty hectic in terms of news media because of everything that went down with SCDF and the death of NSF Corporal Kok.
Every media outlet can probably attest to having their work really cut out for them, trying to find out more details about what is happening and how to feel about it.
And SCDF has found itself shoved into the limelight of public scrutiny.
Meanwhile, netizens are dividing themselves into two camps.
You have people supporting SCDF through the hashtag #WeAreBehindSCDF;
And you also have outraged netizens that have been blaming SCDF for what happened in various comments and posts.
See, this has actually become a very controversial issue.
Because people broke the law and someone died. It was avoidable.
On top of that?
There are also other lifesaving personnel involved in the incident.
Feeling confused or conflicted over this whole issue?
Don’t worry, us too.
But regardless of how you’re feeling, here are 10 reasons why we should rally together behind SCDF in this difficult time!
1. SCDF is a Life-Saving Force
We all know this slogan by now right?
SCDF, The Life Saving Force. I feel like this has been drilled into our heads since Primary School.
At least it was the case in my primary school.
Anyway, it is important to think about this issue from this direction: if SCDF is really a lifesaving force, then every one of the men and women in service are lifesavers.
And so, the moment that any personnel takes a life, they are no longer lifesavers.
When I say take a life, I don’t mean the heroes that come to our rescue, that do everything in their power to save us and in a few instances, don’t manage to.
I am talking about incidents where personnel intentionally put someone in unnecessary danger (I think it is common knowledge by now that NSF Kok did not know how to swim) and caused the loss of life.
So like it or not, right now, we have to separate those involved from the organisation.
Those complicit cannot be seen as SCDF personnel or lifesavers because they have committed a crime.
SCDF will not protect or shield any guilty party.
They will be citizens that broke the laws of our country, and investigations and punishments will be appropriately meted out in due time.
2. SCDF is being transparent
They have cooperated fully with investigations and have treated the public with respect by posting and sharing updates on their Facebook page to keep everyone in the loop.
By putting all the facts out there when they can (please remember this is still an ongoing and open case, which means that there are legal ramifications for divulging too much information), SCDF is showing us that they are not willing to hide what happened.
This is commendable.
Covering up unnatural deaths like Corporal Kok’s should never ever be done, especially for the sake of ‘saving face’.
By being unwilling to hide (the easier option), SCDF has earned our respect.
3. Criminal Proceedings
If this is a case that you have been following, today’s press report confirms that there is almost definitely going to be criminal proceedings.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam conveyed this message.
To the layman, what does this mean?
There is “objective evidence” of unlawful and even criminally punishable activities that went on that night.
Right now, there will not be any details on what this evidence is because there are legal procedures to these matters.
When it is legally appropriate for us to know details, we will all know.
Don’t want to get sued for disrupting an ongoing case, you know?
4. ‘Don’t blame the SCDF for what happened’.
No, those are not my words.
But yesterday (16 May), an ex-SCDF personnel came out talking about his views on the incident.
And he puts out the view that we really shouldn’t be blaming SCDF because it always had a 0% tolerance for ragging, bullying and any kind of unlawful acts.
They have made this clear to all personnel that enter its organisation.
And they have also enforced this in times past when there have been cases of ragging.
5. Responsibility and Accountability of Staff
There will always be people that will try and test the system and see what they can get away with.
It is, after all, quite unrealistic to keep an eye on an adult 24/7, right?
The SCDF personnel are definitely aware of the laws and rules so we really shouldn’t be blaming SCDF.
Because the men and women in the organisation are trusted to be responsible enough to abide by the law.
The fault should lie 100% with the complicit individuals.
It is the duty of men and women in service to not only abide by the rules and laws of the country and organisation, but also to report those that are intentionally breaching the trust of the organisation.
By complying with illegal activity, by intentionally planning and even taking part in unlawful acts, they are also guilty.
6. Unit Commanders are liable.
It’s only quite natural that SCDF is feeling the effects of everything that has gone down.
You can imagine what a shocker it must be.
Just because they are not responsible for this incident happening, it doesn’t mean that they are not shaken by it.
This was something very unexpected and quite a big breach of trust too.
And it has affected the credibility of SCDF in the eyes of the public.
Moving forward, SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap has made it clear that this culture of ragging is going to end. Unit Commanders will now bear responsibility if any one of the personnel they are in charge of takes part or initiates any of these prohibited acts.
7. SCDF is taking major steps moving forward.
For now, the whistle-blowing program will be firmly intact, with personnel able to officially report to any officials outranking them over misdeeds and breaches.
Briefings will continue periodically and consistently for everyone serving under the SCDF regarding anti-ragging.
Any NSF that participates will have an errant behaviour recorded in their Certificate of Service, and if there are any criminally punishable acts done, personnel will not be protected by SCDF but made liable for prosecution.
The new rules and changes SCDF will be making is to make sure that an incident like this never happens again.
It will officially be released by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the coming days.
So keep tuning in to find out more!
8. SCDF is not the only organisation with a ‘ragging culture’.
This incident has cast SCDF in a bad light because many are coming out of the shadows and talking about how the ragging culture in SCDF is still commonly practiced.
This is an outdated culture mentality that needs help shifting…and fast.
But see, SCDF isn’t the only organisation where this is happening.
Singapore schools also have a ragging culture, and it’s common in a lot of organisations.
This incident with Corporal Kok is a clear example of how far things can go and how urgently this ‘culture’ needs to be completely eradicated from our society.
9. A sense of ‘Brotherhood’.
Many people are angry over the death of Corporal Kok.
Many people are also upset that ragging is something going on in these organisations.
Because that means we can start looking at the why.
Ragging in life-saving organisations have had a long history in being something that creates camaraderie and fosters a sense of brotherhood among squad mates.
In a ‘good-natured’ way.
Which is why it has been normalised amongst SCDF personnel as well as personnel from the other organisations, despite being outlawed and even illegal.
There is a type of “bonding” going on over doing something outlawed and a feeling of being “joined together by secrets”. And this needs to stop.
This is why Corporal Kok drowned. This is why there was an unnecessary loss of life.
The normalisation of ragging needs to stop. This change needs to come from the personnel within the organisation.
10. SCDF will continue to serve
SCDF is made out of brave men and women risking their lives every day for us.
They are the ones that leave their families and loved ones to rescue us from burning buildings, from car wrecks, from under collapsed buildings, and from various other dangerous scenarios.
They have, and always will be, a life-saving force who are going to save us when we need it, regardless of how we feel about them.
We must never take that for granted.
And we must never lose sight of that in this incident.
They will continue being our heroes as they have always done.
And we will stand behind them, understanding that they shouldn’t be shouldering the blame and hate as an organisation.
Instead, as part of one big Singaporean family, we will support them in this difficult time and as they move forward to make sure an incident like this never, ever happens again.
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