Shanmugam: Criminal proceedings over death of SCDF NSF almost certain
Parliament: Shanmugam on SCDF NSF's death
There will "almost certainly be criminal proceedings" over the death of Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) full-time national serviceman Kok Yuen Chin, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.
He told Parliament the Attorney-General's Chambers had told him this after reviewing the facts at this stage.
"Based on the facts that I have seen, I think so too. There should be criminal charges," he added.
He was replying to Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), who had asked for assurances that all steps were being taken to ensure such unfortunate and unnecessary deaths would not happen again.
Mr Shanmugam said: "What I can say is that the conduct was unacceptable. It was a clear and serious violation of the rules, and there can be no excuse for the conduct."
Corporal Kok, who would have completed his national service on Wednesday, died after going through a ragging ritual to celebrate his operationally ready date.
The 22-year-old was found unconscious in a 12m-deep pump well at Tuas View Fire Station last Sunday night.
Two SCDF regular officers, a First Warrant Officer and a Staff Sergeant who were Cpl Kok's colleagues, have been arrested in connection to his death. They have been suspended from service on half-pay pending the outcome of police investigations.
Four other officers under probe have had their promotions withheld.
To prevent such incidents from recurring, Mr Shanmugam said the SCDF and other Home Team agencies will be re-looking their rules and how they are enforced, and come up with a further set of measures by next week.
"There will be zero tolerance. We have to do, and we will do our best, to not let this happen again."
Reiterating SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap's strong message to all officers on Wednesday, Mr Shanmugam said unit commanders will hereafter be held responsible for any improper conduct that is in breach.
While it was inappropriate to go into details of the facts at this stage, he said the Board of Inquiry (BOI), to be chaired by a senior director from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, will look into them.
He said the facts "will also come out in public, through court proceedings".
Highlighting the need to maintain the trust of parents who send their children to national service, he said: "I think it is imperative that we see what went wrong and learn the lessons. The family is at the front and centre of our thoughts and prayers... It is tragic that this has happened. We must, and we will do right by them, and by the late Cpl Kok."
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