TL;DR – And those who engage in it should be punished harshly.
This week, another tragedy struck. Another NSF died.
But this time, it’s completely pointless. In the case of Dave Lee, who passed away of heat stroke, he was participating in vigorous and sanctioned training. Yes, in that case, more could have been done to spot and treat Dave’s heat exhaustion. But the training was necessary.
In contrast, Corporal Kok Yuen Chin of the SCDF’s death could have been prevented. He passed away because of the stupid and pointless ragging practice that was part of the “celebratory” activities planned to mark his impending end of full-time national service.
What’s the point of those activities?
Corporal Kok couldn’t swim…
Corporal Kok is a Malaysian citizen. He’s doing NS because he’s a Singapore PR. He knew that as part of the “celebratory” activities, he was going to be thrown into one. And he was terrified. He did not know how to swim, and he was actually afraid of water. His girlfriend and family tried to persuade him against joining his squad mates in those activities. But Corporal Kok insisted on taking part in those activities. He even brought snacks for his colleagues as he wanted to treat them.
Unfortunately, that decision cost Corporal Kok’s life. It cut short a young man’s life. While Corporal Kok studied in Melaka, he had dreams of settling down in Singapore, getting a job as a security officer here and buying a flat with his girlfriend. Alas, all of that aren’t meant to be. As Minister Shanmugam said:
“It was a tragic loss of life, young man full of potential.”
Those who are responsible NEED to be punished harshly
Two regular servicemen — a Warrant Officer 1 and a Staff Sergeant — have been arrested following preliminary investigations which have pointed to prohibited activities taking place. A Board of Inquiry will also be convened to look into the matter. The people who are responsible need to be punished to the full extent that the law allows.
And MHA and MINDEF have to drill it into the heads of everyone in the uniformed services that safety is paramount and stupid pointless ragging activities MUST STOP.
As it stands, SCDF has highlighted five cases of such activities from May 2010 to August 2015. In those cases, SCDF has meted out “deterrent” punishments like detention on those officers who were involved. SCDF said:
“SCDF adopts a zero-tolerance policy against unauthorised activities such as ‘ragging’, and continually reinforces the deterrent measures against such activities”
It seems that whatever measures are still insufficient.
Perhaps it’s time for harsher punishments. Maybe that would be a stronger deterrence.
Also, there needs to be a proper system in place for NSFs to report those who engage in such ragging activities to higher authorities. And when whistleblowers report such activities, the higher authorities must investigate and take vigorous action against those involved.
We have already lost one young man to these stupid, pointless ragging activities. That’s already one too many. Let’s not lose another.