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

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
(Foreground, from left) Commission of Police Hoong Wee Teck, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and National Development Sun Xueling at the Police Workplan Seminar on Thursday (3 May). (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

Criminal charges are likely to be brought to bear against those implicated in the recent death of Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) full-time national serviceman (NSF) Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, said Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in Parliament on Thursday (17 May).

“There will be a Board of Inquiry… there will almost certainly also be criminal proceedings,” he said, referring to the information he had received from the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).

“Based on the facts I have seen, I think so too. I’m usually very careful about saying these things, but I think so too. There should be criminal charges.”

He added, “You know, people play games, they horse around, they make people like CPL Kok do dangerous things… and people who do this don’t think. They don’t think how it can go wrong.

“And when it does go wrong, a life is lost, needlessly lost.”

The minister was responding to a query from Holland-Bukit Timah Member of Parliament Christopher de Souza on whether all measures are being taken to help ensure that such an “unfortunate and unnecessary death” does not happen again.

On Sunday evening, Kok was found unconscious at the bottom of the Tuas View Fire Station’s pump well, a reservoir of water used by fire station personnel for training and testing the pumps of fire engines. Efforts to revive the 22-year-old at the scene proved futile and he was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Shanmugam had earlier described the drowning incident as a “celebration gone wrong” and that the “conduct of some of the people involved” was in “clear violation” of the SCDF’s rules. Two SCDF regulars have been arrested, with four more officers being probed.

The 59-year-old told Parliament on Thursday that he has also directed the SCDF and other Home Team agencies to come up with a further set of rules to prevent such incidents from happening again.

“Once they are finalised, I will announce them next week. Meanwhile, I’ve made it clear that hereafter, it will be a command responsibility to ensure that such conduct is not repeated, and hereafter, unit commanders will be held responsible for anything like this that happens,” he said.

Shanmugam stressed that the family of the late Kok is “at the front and centre of our thoughts and prayers”.

He added, “We must and we will do right by them and the late CPL Kok.”

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’

5 cases of ragging in SCDF in past 8 years, errant officers given detention: MHA

SCDF NSF’s death: AGC looking into criminal proceedings