Singapore

SCDF NSF who died had dreams of settling down in Singapore

Corporal Kok's girlfriend describes him as 'kind, loyal and filial'; father says he wanted to be independent

He went to school in Melaka but had dreams of getting a job and buying a flat here with his girlfriend after national service.

But the dream to settle down in Singapore died when Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, 22, drowned on Sunday.

Cpl Kok, whom family members said had been a Singapore permanent resident from young, was found unconscious at the bottom of a 12m-deep pump well at Tuas View Fire Station.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said the full-time national serviceman (NSF) had been celebrating his impending Operationally Ready Date.

At his wake in the Krubong area of Melaka yesterday, where SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap and other officers paid their respects, family members told The New Paper Cpl Kok had been excited at starting the next chapter of his life.

His father Kok Meng Hwa, 56, has been a construction worker in Singapore for more than 20 years. He met his wife, who is from Ipoh, in Singapore.

He applied for permanent residence status for his family shortly after Cpl Kok was born in Malaysia in 1996.

"I thought being a PR would allow my children to have more options," said the older Mr Kok.

The PR status also meant that when his son turned 18, he received a letter asking him to serve NS. He deferred at first to complete Malaysia's equivalent of the A levels at the age of 19.

He worried about the physical demands of NS, but he warmed to the idea as it meant he could live and work in Singapore.

He spent the first few months in SCDF sharing a rented apartment with his father in Bukit Panjang.

Over the past year, he moved to a rented apartment in Boon Lay with his girlfriend, Miss Clare Heng, 22, a Malaysian who works here in a fashion accessories shop. The pair split a monthly rent of about $600.

Miss Heng told TNP yesterday that she been planning a surprise next month to celebrate the three years she and Cpl Kok had been together.

She was devastated when she found out on Sunday he had died.

She said Cpl Kok had confided in her of his fear of going into the pump well. "I didn't expect his fear to come true and cost him his life," she said.

Miss Heng said she had previously tried to teach Cpl Kok to swim, but he refused.

"I tried to teach him swimming but he refused to learn because he was that afraid of water," she added.

She met Cpl Kok in 2015 in high school in Melaka.

Miss Heng, who was in the classroom next to his, said she frequently dropped by his class to meet her friends and tried to make excuses to approach him.

The pair grew closer after they began talking on WeChat and connected.

Recalling happier times with him, she said: "He is introverted and would never have had the courage to woo me so I made the first move."

Describing him as "kind, loyal and filial", she said Cpl Kok loved his parents very much.

Mr Kok said his son always wanted to be independent.

"He knew he wanted to start a life (in Singapore), so even though he was not earning a lot, he wanted to try his best to make it work," he said.

Cpl Kok had planned to work as a security officer after NS.

"But he never even got the chance to try," said Mr Kok, who struggled to compose himself.

Family members said Cpl Kok will be cremated tomorrow.

ACCIDENTS FIRE FLOOD