Four more SCDF officers linked to the death of firefighter
Six officers now under probe as investigations into full-time national serviceman's drowning widen
Four Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers have had their promotions withheld as investigations into a firefighter's death expand beyond the original two arrests.
They were supposed to move up the ranks on June 1 but their promotions will now be on hold until investigations are completed, said a statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs yesterday evening.
Two SCDF regulars were arrested on Monday in connection with the drowning of Corporal (Cpl) Kok Yuen Chin, at Tuas View Fire Station on Sunday night.
The duo - a Warrant Officer 1 and a Staff Sergeant - were Cpl Kok's colleagues who worked on the same shift at the station.
They have been suspended from service on half-pay pending the outcome of police investigations.
Cpl Kok, a 22-year-old full-time national serviceman (NSF), was found unconscious inside a 12m-deep pump well around 9.20pm after the water was drained.
The Malaysian, who was a Singapore PR, had been celebrating his impending operationally ready date (ORD), which would have been yesterday, with his squad mates. As part of ragging activities, he was made to get into the pump well.
The MHA also said in its statement that a Board of Inquiry (BOI), to be chaired by a senior director from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, will look into the tragedy and make recommendations to prevent similar incidents in future.
The BOI, which will include members who are not from the MHA or the SCDF, will submit its report to the Minister of Home Affairs.
The state coroner may separately call for an inquiry into Cpl Kok's death.
The Attorney-General's Chambers is also reviewing the case with a view to criminal proceedings, the statement added.
The two arrests had been made based on preliminary investigations into what had happened, including how Cpl Kok fell into the pump well, and whether anyone is criminally responsible.
In a strongly-worded message to all officers yesterday, SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap said he had briefed all commanders on Tuesday 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," he said.
"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."
Commissioner Yap noted that some may flout the rules, or turn a blind eye to ragging activities 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."
Revealing that preliminary investigations had shown Cpl Kok's drowning arose out of a clear violation of SCDF's rules, he added: "There must be zero tolerance for any officer who contravenes the rules, and we must take all necessary measures to eradicate such activities.
Commissioner Yap said the incident had damaged SCDF's credibility, and the force now needs to regain the trust of the public, families of NSFs and SCDF officers.
"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," he added.