Disclaimer: This is an anonymous reader submission.
The past few days have been tough on The Life Saving Force. Don’t get me wrong, it is definitely tougher for the family of CPL Kok Yuen Chin. I can’t imagine losing my younger brother when it is time for him to serve NS. No words can describe how CPL Kok’s family and loved ones are feeling; I offer my deepest condolences.
I am writing this anonymously not because I’m afraid of the response, but because my name and rank shouldn’t matter when it comes to this issue. Despite our ranks and positions, we are all humans and should be treated as such.
As a former SCDF NSF, I am proud to see how MHA and SCDF have handled the situation. They were not only transparent with the facts, but were also quick to announce the arrests of the 2 regular officers. They even held a media interview to clarify certain things to the media.
The incident itself should not have happened. Ragging has been banned by SCDF for many years now and very strict disciplinary actions have been taken against the culprits. From my experience in the fire station, the SCDF has always stood by its zero tolerance policy for ragging. But, there are always people who break the rules or get too carried away. This incident is an accurate example of that.
In my opinion, SCDF as an organisation should not take the rap. The people who were involved in the incident should.
This was not part of their training, but a banned tradition that resurfaced and a major breach of trust. In that moment, these personnel were not life savers, they were life takers.
At the same time, how can we blame SCDF for the rotten apples that every organisation are bound to have? Would you blame the Land Transport Authority if a taxi driver causes a fatal accident?
No, it’s solely on him. Not the vehicle manufacturer or the organisation who leases out the vehicle. A bad decision that you make on your own accord should never be a representation of your organisation nor should it be of your family.
As I looked through all the negative comments on Facebook about the SCDF, I could not help but picture myself in the shoes of the personnel who are currently serving. Let’s be clear, it’s already not easy to serve the nation. It’s even tougher when you are required to put a stranger’s life before yours every single day.
Most of these life savers have a Facebook account and are digitally savvy. They probably see every single mean thing Netizens have said about SCDF the past 2 days: calling them brainless, hooligans. Imagine going to save someone’s life when at the back of your head, you recall seeing a nasty comment about your profession. Still, they carry out their duties with pride and professionalism.
The Life Saving Force teaches us how to save lives and other important life lessons such as integrity, responsibility and perseverance. They don’t teach you how to tolerate criticism from the public. For those keyboard warriors who accused the SCDF of being an organisation that enjoys bullying and ragging, take a look at what you’re doing. Your mean comments can also be considered bullying and ragging. So it’s good to practice what you preach.
To those ORD-ed personnel, just like me, who spoke to the newspapers about their time in the fire stations and the ragging they witnessed, think back at what you did. The fact that you chose to stay silent and witness someone get bullied, only to tell the story 5 years later, does not prove that you are being a hero or vigilante. You chose to keep quiet then, so you are as good as those wrongdoers.
We cannot determine how the Force is today by taking into account only what happened 5 to 10 years back. For a recently ORD-ed personnel, I believe that SCDF has changed in many ways since then. This covers everything from their equipment to culture.
My time at the station was wonderful and we all got along very well. We treated everyone like siblings.
Ragging, to my knowledge, was a thing of the past. It was a frowned upon behaviour since day 1 of my enlistment.
If anyone from SCDF is reading this, I would suggest that to prevent such cases from happening again, talk to your rota mates. You don’t have to take part in initiation rituals. Sometimes, speaking heart to heart can break barriers.
Lastly, I believe I speak on behalf of my family, friends, Singaporeans and many personnel (serving or have served) when I say that #WeAreBehindSCDF. Don’t lose heart. We believe in the good and honest work you do.
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