The tragic case of Corporal Kok Yuen Chin had dragged on for over two years with the trial of the SCDF commanders involved, but it has finally come to an end.
On 13 May 2018, CPL Kok was pushed into a 12m-deep pump well as part of a ragging exercise and ended up drowning.
Five men were charged following Kok’s tragic death, and three were later sentenced to jail.
Now, it’s time for the other two men to face the music.
SCDF Commanders Involved In The Drowning Of NSF Kok Yuen Chin Jailed
For their roles in the fatal ragging incident, SCDF rota commander Kenneth Chong Chee Boon and his deputy Nazhan Mohamed Nazi were sentenced to 10 weeks’ jail.
Both men had previously been tried with abetting grievous hurt to CPL Kok, but these charges couldn’t be proven in court, according to CNA.
There was, however, sufficient evidence to convict them each of one count of committing a negligent act to endanger human life.
Chong pleaded guilty and Nazhan pleaded not guilty, but both men were convicted.
District Judge Ong Hian Sun said both men had allowed the group of servicemen to carry out the ragging exercise, which entailed pushing CPL Kok into a deep pump well.
They did this even though they knew he couldn’t swim.
At one point during the incident, Chong shouted “no filming”, and signalled to the men that they could go ahead with the act.
Nazhan was near the group of servicemen but did nothing to stop them.
“Public confidence must not be eroded by a permissive stance taken by commanders towards the safety of servicemen under their charge”, the judge said.
“This is especially the case when the lives of these servicemen are entrusted to them during the course of national service. A strong stance must be taken to ensure that the safety of NSmen remains paramount.”
ORD Celebration Had Taken a Tragic Turn
For those who don’t remember what happened, here’s a brief recap.
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Kok and his colleagues at the Tuas View Fire Station were celebrating his impending ORD with a cake and plaque presentation.
At some point during the celebration, a few officers in the room started shouting “kolam, kolam”, referring to the well or the ritual of entering the well.
Some officers then lifted and carried CPL Kok out of the room. CPL Kok kept saying “Jangan encik, jangan”, meaning “Don’t encik, don’t”.
Despite his protestations, the officers told CPL Kok to sit on the edge of the pump well.
Then, Staff Sergeant Muhammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood pushed him forcefully on his back, causing him to fall into the well.
When he was retrieved from the well 36 minutes later, CPL Kok was unconscious.
He died in hospital with the cause of death certified as drowning.
Five Officers Jailed
Five SCDF officers and commanders were charged following the incident, including:
- Staff Sergeant Adighazali Suhaimi, 33
- Staff Sergeant Muhammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood, 34
- Lieutenant Chong Chee Boon Kenneth, 38 and First Senior Warrant Officer Nazhan Mohamed Nazi, 41
- First Warrant Officer Mohamed Farid Mohd Saleh, 35
Fatwa and Farid started pointing fingers at each other, but both men were eventually sentenced to jail.
Fatwa, the one who pushed CPL Kok into the well, was sentenced to 12 months’ jail on 23 Oct 2018 after pleading guilty to the charges he faced.
And Farid, who had asked Fatwa to push CPL Kok into the well, was jailed for 13 months in November 2019.
Staff Sergeant Adighazali Suhaimi was jailed for one month in December 2018 as well for deleting incriminating evidence, according to CNA.
Son Was an “Outsider”
After the hearing, Kok’s father said the commanders should have stopped the men from carrying out the act.
“Whether they are guilty or not, I don’t know,” he said in Mandarin. “But they should have asked them not to play until it’s so overboard. They didn’t even stop them. One ran up and one stood by. They didn’t even say anything.”
He added that his son – who is a Malaysian and a Singapore permanent resident – was an “outsider”, and was not familiar with such ragging exercises.
“What else can I feel?” He said about the outcome. “(My son) is gone. He’s in another world … We have to pass the days, we have no choice”, he said.
Kok was only 22 and just three days away from his ORD when he died.
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