Friday 13 December 2019
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todayonline - 23 days ago

SCDF ragging death: 13 months’ jail for officer who told colleague to push NSF into pump well

SINGAPORE — A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer was sentenced to one year and one month behind bars on Wednesday (Nov 20) after being found guilty last month of telling his colleague to push a full-time national serviceman into a pump well, resulting in his death. First Warrant Officer Mohamed Farid Mohd Saleh, 36, maintained throughout his trial that he had not urged Staff Sergeant Nur Fatwa Mahmood to push Corporal Kok Yuen Chin into the well. Kok, 22, ended up drowning that evening on May 13 last year, three days before he would finish serving his National Service in the SCDF. The Singapore permanent resident from Malaysia, who did not know how to swim, was taken out of the well in Tuas View Fire Station following several failed attempts to rescue him. The 12m-deep well was filled with 11m of water. It was the SCDF’s first death resulting from ragging. ‘FAILED IN DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES’ Second Principal District Judge Victor Yeo said on Wednesday that Farid had “failed in his duties and responsibilities as a commander and supervisor”, having been the highest-ranking officer in the immediate vicinity of the well that evening. He agreed with prosecutors that Farid had exhibited a “high degree of rashness”, while being aware that such ragging rituals were banned by the SCDF. “The life of a young man was senselessly lost as a result of a prank… The court must send a message that such rash and risk-taking behaviour must not be tolerated,” the judge added. He also repeated what he had said when convicting Farid last month: “I was unimpressed by his attempts to downplay his involvement in the whole episode, and minimise his role to one of a mere spectator.” In mitigation, Farid’s lawyer Vinit Chhabra said that his client was “truly sorry” for what had happened and that he regretted Kok’s death. Farid had served 11 years in the SCDF before the incident. Both he and Fatwa have been suspended without pay from the service since May 17 last year — four days after the fatal incident. During the trial, Fatwa testified that Farid had told him: “Wa, tolak dia.” “Wa” was a contraction of Fatwa’s name and “tolak dia” is Malay for “push him”. Fatwa said he then pushed Kok into the well, and that he later felt betrayed when Farid denied, during a police interview and a talk with their fire station commander right after the incident, that he had said those words. Farid, meanwhile, said he was shocked by Fatwa’s accusation and argued that he did not literally ask him to push Kok. WHAT HAPPENED Five SCDF officers were charged for their involvement in Kok’s death. Apart from Fatwa, 34, and Farid, the others were First Senior Warrant Officer Nazhan Mohamed Nazi, 41, Lieutenant Chong Chee Boon Kenneth, 38, and Staff Sergeant Adighazali Suhaimi, 32. Fatwa pleaded guilty to pushing Kok into the well and instigating Adighazali to delete a video of it. He has served one year and one month of jail time, partly in home detention. Adighazali served one month in jail after pleading guilty to deleting the video. Chong and Nazhan, the commanders of Kok’s team at the fire station, claimed trial to their charges of aiding a group of servicemen to cause grievous hurt. Their trial continues next month. The incident took place when Kok and his colleagues were in the watch room at the fire station that fateful evening, celebrating his impending Operationally Ready Date with a cake and plaque presentation. During the gathering, some officers in the room started shouting kolam, kolam , referring to the well and the ragging ritual of making recruits jump into the well. Some of them then carried Kok out to the well, including Fatwa. The court heard that Kok’s last words before being pushed in were “Cannot, Encik.”


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