5 SCDF personnel charged over NSF's drowning death

The 5 SCDF personnel charged over the drowning of an NSF in May 2018. Clockwise from top left: LTA Kenneth Chong Chee Boon, SWO1 Nazhan Nazi, WO1 Farid Saleh, SSG Fatwa Mahmood and SSG Adighazali Suhaimi. (Photo: Suhaile MD/Yahoo News Singapore)

UPDATE: This story has been updated with a statement from the Singapore Civil Defence Force on the current status of the five men. 

Five men who were allegedly involved in the death of a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) full-time national serviceman were charged in court on Wednesday (25 July).

The five SCDF personnel were implicated in the drowning incident at Tuas View fire station on 13 May in which 22-year-old Kok Yuen Chin died.

Staff Sergeant Mohammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood, 33, was charged with one count of causing death by rash act and one count of obstructing, perverting, preventing or defeating justice. He is alleged to have pushed Kok into the well leading to his drowning, and then instructing a colleague to delete the footage of the incident.

Warrant Officer 1 Mohamed Farid Mohamed Saleh, 34, was charged with abetting a rash act that resulted in death. He is alleged to have instigated Fatwa by telling him to push Kok into the well.

Lieutenant Kenneth Chong Chee Boon, 37, was charged with abetting a group of men to commit a rash act that caused grievous hurt by omitting to prevent them from pressuring Kok to enter the well. Chong was the commander of the rotation (ROTA 3) to which the men involved were attached.

Senior Warrant Officer 1 Nazhan Mohamed Nazi, 40, the deputy commander of ROTA 3, was similarly charged with abetting a rash act that caused grievous hurt.

Staff Sergeant Adighazali Suhaimi, 32, was charged for intentionally obstructing the course of justice by allegedly deleting a video from his phone of Kok being pushed into the well.

The police have also referred eight other officers who were present during the incident to the SCDF for departmental investigations.

Fatwa’s lawyer Diana Ngiam said her client intends to plead guilty. His case will be heard on 25 September.

Farid’s lawyer Vinit Chhabra said he has been instructed to view the CCTV footage of the incident. Lawyer Singa Retnam, who is representing Chong and Nazhan, said the same thing.

Adighazali’s lawyer Mato Kotwani said he had just been appointed and needed time to take instructions.

Apart from Fatwa, the men will appear in court again on 3 September.

Without naming the officers, SCDF told Yahoo News Singapore that two regular officers who were arrested on 14 May have been interdicted. It added that it has begun the process of interdicting the remaining three.

If convicted of causing the death of a person through a rash act, Fatwa may be jailed up to five years and/or fined. If convicted of abetting a rash act causing grievous hurt, each man faces up to four years’ jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. If convicted of obstructing the course of justice, each man can be jailed up to seven years and/or fined.

About the case

Corporal (CPL) Kok Yuen Chin, 22, had died after being thrown into the 12m-deep well, which is used as a reservoir for training and testing fire engine pumps. The incident happened while Kok was celebrating his impending Operationally Ready Date with his squad mates.

When Kok, a non-swimmer, did not resurface from the well, a few SCDF personnel jumped in but failed to find him. Kok was eventually pulled out after the well, which had been filled to a depth of 11m, was drained. Kok was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Four days after Kok’s death, Parliament debated the incident, with Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam describing it as a “celebration gone wrong”. He said the “conduct of some of the people involved” was in “clear violation” of the SCDF’s rules.

According to the SCDF, the ragging activities that resulted in the mishap were prohibited.

A Board of Inquiry – chaired by a senior director from the Ministry of Trade and Industry and comprising members not from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the SCDF – has been convened to review the circumstances that led Kok’s death.

Related stories:

SCDF NSF drowns after falling into fire station’s pump well; 2 regulars arrested

Shanmugam on SCDF NSF’s death: ‘We will get to the bottom of it’

SCDF NSF’s death: AGC looking into criminal proceedings

SCDF NSF’s death: Criminal charges ‘almost certain’, says Shanmugam