SINGAPORE: The Board of Inquiry convened to look into the drowning of a full-time national serviceman (NSF) from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will be chaired by a senior director from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).
This was announced on Wednesday (May 16) by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which added that the Board of Inquiry will include members who are not from MHA or the SCDF.
In a media release, MHA added that the two SCDF regulars who were arrested over the incident will be interdicted from service on half-pay pending the outcome of police investigations.
Four other officers who are being investigated will have their promotions withheld in the meantime. They were supposed to be promoted on Jun 1.
In a message to SCDF officers on Wednesday, Commissioner Eric Yap underlined the importance of command responsibility in the force, and emphasised SCDF’s zero-tolerance policy against unauthorised initiation or ragging activities.
“Commanders are entrusted with the responsibility to look after the men and women who risk their lives every day. It is our duty to ensure they are not harmed or demeaned by the actions of others,” he said.
He added that Unit Commanders will be held accountable and responsible for any unauthorised initiation or ragging activities by any personnel under their charge.
The Commissioner’s message is reproduced in full below:
We started this week with the heartbreaking loss of CPL Kok Yuen Chin, our NSF Firefighter. Today on 16 May, CPL Kok would have completed his two year full-time national service and left the SCDF with a strong testimonial reflecting his good performance and outstanding conduct. But last Sunday, CPL Kok drowned in the pump well at Tuas View Fire Station.
The Police are conducting investigations into what happened. Two of our SCDF regular officers have been arrested, and preliminary investigations show that CPL Kok’s drowning arose out of a clear violation of SCDF’s rules.
As an organisation, and as individuals, I am sure every one of us is grieved and horrified by this unfortunate incident. Each day, we put our lives at risk to protect and save lives and property. We pride ourselves on being the Life Saving Force. But amongst us, there may be some who flout the rules, or turn a blind eye to unauthorised initiation or ragging activities being carried out by officers who clearly do not embrace our core values. Let me be clear about this – those of us who are aware of, or have seen such acts being carried out but yet do not stop or report these acts, also bear responsibility. We cannot condone or allow any wrongdoing.
I had personally briefed all Commanders yesterday and underlined the importance of command responsibility. Unit Commanders will be held accountable and responsible for any unauthorised initiation or ragging activities by any personnel under their charge.
Commanders are entrusted with the responsibility to look after the men and women who risk their lives every day. It is our duty to ensure they are not harmed or demeaned by the actions of others. There must be zero tolerance for any officer who contravenes the rules, and we must take all necessary measures to eradicate such activities.
Yesterday, I attended CPL Kok’s wake in Malacca with a few colleagues. With a heavy heart, on behalf of all of us, I expressed our deepest condolences to his family. I personally assured his father that the SCDF will cooperate fully with the Police investigation and the Board of Inquiry and the outcome will be made known to the family. We will continue to provide all necessary assistance to them during this very difficult time.
This incident has damaged the credibility of the Force. We must do our utmost to regain the trust of the public, the families who entrust their sons to us to serve their National Service, and our own men and women too. Even as we mourn the loss of one of our own, we owe it to CPL Kok to ensure that this must never happen again.
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