SINGAPORE — “Cannot, Encik.” These were the last words of full-time national service man (NSF) Corporal Kok Yuen Chin before he was pushed into the Tuas View Fire Station’s pump well.
The evidence was revealed in court on Monday (17 June), the sixth day of the trial against Lieutenant Chong Chee Boon, 38, and First Senior Warrant Officer Nazhan Mohamed Nazi, 41.
Chong and Nazhan had been in charge of the officers involved in Kok’s death. The pair now face one charge each of helping the group to cause grievous hurt to Kok through a rash act by failing to prevent the other men from putting Kok in the well.
Kok, who was then 22, had initially been left on the ledge of the Tuas View Fire Station’s 12m-deep well during a celebration on 13 May last year to mark his impending Operationally Ready Date (ORD).
While a group of officers egged him to enter the well on his own, another officer pushed him into it. Kok, who could not swim, drowned in the well.
‘We were just teasing him’: witness
Taking the stand on Monday was 33-year-old Staff Sergeant Adighazali Suhaimi. who said that he had advised Kok to enter the well himself, lest he get hurt by being pushed into it.
The prosecution took Adighazali through several videos taken on the night of the incident. These included a video taken by Adighazali on his mobile phone, which captured the minutes leading up to Kok being pushed into the well.
In one video, Kok is seen attending a cake-cutting ceremony in the fire station’s control room as part of his ORD celebration. According to a transcript of the video, Kok was repeatedly teased about having to enter the pump well, which the other officers referred to as “kolam” (Malay for “pool”).
While in the control room, Kok was also asked to take off his clothes as a prelude to entering the well. Some other officers also asked if Kok wanted to enter the well himself or if he wanted them to put him in it.
“Initially we didn’t think of anything. We were just teasing him,” said Adighazali when asked about the banter in the control room.
“I told him personally, one to one, it’s either you go in by yourself in somebody may push him,” he added.
Asked why he said that, Adighazali replied, “Because if he go in by himself, less injury.”
‘This is the spa treatment’: witness
At the pump well, the teasing continued, with the men telling Kok to “sit down” and “let the fish bite (your) toes”, to which Kok replies “Don’t la, Encik”.
Another officer is then heard commenting, “This is the spa treatment”. According to Adighazali, at the time of the incident, the pump well contained two catfish, which had been previously placed inside.
At one point, Adighazali is heard in the video saying in Malay, “Live also difficult, die also difficult, ORD have to jump into the well.”
Asked what he meant by that line, Adighazali said he was making a reference to a Malay movie.
At another point, when an unknown male voice asks Kok if he is ready, Kok replies, “Not ready, Encik”. Kok is later heard saying, “Okay... must take a breath, first.”
Another voice is also heard asking Kok if he wanted to remove his pants, while others tell Kok to go down into the well or “jump”.
In the videos, the final words Kok uttered before being pushed into the well were “Cannot, Encik”.
When Deputy Public Prosecutor Sheryl Yeo asked Adighazali why he thought people would push Kok in, the latter replied, “(Because) of persistent cheering to want to see him go in.”
Adighazali was jailed four weeks in December last year on one count of obstructing the course of justice by deleting the video he had taken during the incident. This video was later recovered by police forensics specialists.
Another officer, 34-year-old Staff Sergeant Muhammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood, was jailed 13 months in October last year for pushing Kok into the well. A fifth officer, Warrant Officer 1 Mohamed Farid Mohamed Saleh, has yet to be dealt with.
The trial continues on Monday.