SCDF NSF Kok Yuen Chin death (2018)

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On 13 May 2018, Corporal Kok Yuen Chin drowned in a 12-metre deep pump well in Tuas View Fire Centre after he had been pushed in by an officer.[1] Kok Yuen Chin was a full time National Serviceman in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). At the time of the accident, he was serving his two-year mandatory National Service.

Details of incident[edit | edit source]

The pump well that Kok Yuen Chin drowned in measured 12 metres deep and at the time of incident, the water level measured 11 metres. Photo from Today.
The timeline of events for the ragging incident. Photo from Channel News Asia.

Kok Yuen Chin was a Malaysian national and a Permanent Resident of Singapore. He had planned to work as a security officer in Singapore after the completion of his national service.[2]


According to the findings of the Board of Inquiry, Kok Yuen Chin’s Operationally Ready Date (ORD) was on 16 May 2018. He was on his last 24-hour duty patrol when the incident occurred.[3] Tuas View Fire Station has 3 Rotas, which refers to a team comprising of fire and rescue specialists as well as paramedics. Kok Yuen Chin was in Rota 3, which consisted of 23 personnel.


From 8.40 pm to 9.04 pm, Rota 3 was in the station’s watch room to celebrate Kok Yuen Chin’s upcoming ORD.[4] He had been presented with a cake and a plaque by the other Rota 3 personnel during the celebration. One of the SCDF officers, Staff Sergeant Muhammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood proposed that Kok Yuen Chin partake in the ragging ritual known as ‘kolam’,[5] where NSFs were made to enter the station’s pump well that measured 12 metres deep and 1.8 metres wide.[6] ‘Kolam’ translates to ‘pool’ in English.


The other officers had allegedly supported the proposal and started to chant, "kolam, kolam".[7] It was reported that Kok Yuen Chin had waved his hands in response, as a sign that he did not want to participate. However, he was eventually carried to the well by Staff Sergeant Muhammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood and 2 other officers.[8]


Kok Yuen Chin did not know how to swim, a fact that was allegedly not known to the Rota 3 personnel.[9] When he was carried over to the well, he repeated "jagan encik, jagan", a phrase that translates to "don’t encik, don’t". He was then instructed by First Warrant Officer Mohamed Farid Mohd Saleh to sit down on the edge of the pump well.[10] Kok Yuen Chin sat down and was in the midst of hesitation when Mohamed Farid Mohd Saleh commented that he was taking too long to enter the well. He then proceeded to instruct Staff Sergeant Muhammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood to push Kok Yuen Chin into the pump well.[11] This happened at roughly 9.07pm.


Kok Yuen Chin did not resurface after he was pushed into the pump well, spurring someone from his Rota to jump into the well 8 seconds after he was pushed in.[12] After several failed rescue attempts, a fire engine suction pump was used to pump out the water in the well. At the time of the incident, the water level in the pump well was about 11 metres deep.[13] Breathing apparatus were also used in order to dive deeper and search for Kok Yuen Chin.[14]


When a servicemen finally located and extracted Kok Yuen Chin from the pump well, it was around 9.43pm, 36 minutes after he had fallen in.[15][16] Kok Yuen Chin was extracted out of the pump well using a rope.[17] The on-site paramedics attempted to resuscitate him, but to no avail. Kok Yuen Chin was then conveyed to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. He reached the hospital at 10.13 pm, and was eventually pronounced dead at 11.02 pm as a result of drowning.[18]


Kok Yuen Chin’s funeral and wake were held in his hometown, Malacca, Malaysia on 17 May 2018.[19] SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap attended Corporal Kok Yuen Chin's wake on 16 May 2018 in order to deliver the SCDF’s deepest condolences to his family.[20] Kok Yuen Chin’s father disclosed to Lianhe Wanbao that the SCDF had given his family RM5,000 (S$1,693) for his son’s funeral.[21] The SCDF later gave the family an additional S$9,000.

Responses[edit | edit source]

The exterior facade of Tuas View Fire Station, the location where the ragging incident occurred. Photo from The Straits Times.

Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)[edit | edit source]

The SCDF released an official statement on the matter through a Facebook post dated 14 May 2018.[22] The post explained the details of the incident and revealed that two SCDF regulars had been arrested following the incident. In their statement, the SCDF also asserted that ragging is a prohibited activity and that relevant briefings in all fire stations and bases will be implemented.


The SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap also released a message addressed to officers on 17 May 2018, instructing them to ensure that the personnel under them are not harmed or demeaned in any way.[23] He asserted that even those who are observers of these incidents bear responsibility in any accidents that happen. He also honoured Kok Yuen Chin in his message, stating that the SCDF owes it to "Corporal Kok to ensure that this must never happen again".[24]

Kok Yuen Chin's Family[edit | edit source]

In an interview with The New Paper on 14 May 2018, Kok Yuen Chin’s aunt claimed that "everyone in camp knew" that Kok Yuen Chin was "afraid of water, and could not swim".[25]


On 15 May 2018, Kok Yuen Chin’s cousin explained to TODAY that Kok Yuen Chin had informed his siblings on 9 May 2018 that a few of his colleagues from the SCDF intended to "throw him in the water".[26] He had expressed to them that he was "very scared, because he cannot swim". His sister and girlfriend had allegedly discouraged him to join the celebration as they knew he could not swim.[27]


On 15 May 2018, Kok Yuen Chin’s father revealed to reporters from Lianhe Wanbao that his son had visible wounds on his face and was missing two teeth.[28] He suspected that Kok Yuen Chin had hit his face on the wall when he fell in and that the impact had rendered him unconscious, which lead to him drowning.

Ministry of Home Affairs[edit | edit source]

On 14 May 2018, Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam told reporters that the misconduct of certain individuals were "quite clear".[29] Minister K Shanmugam instructed the SCDF to conduct a thorough audit and to take immediate disciplinary action if any other evidence of misconduct had surfaced.


Minister K Shanmugam convened a Board of Inquiry on 22 May 2018. The Board of Inquiry (BOI) was headed by a senior director from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.[30]


After launching an investigation, the BOI concluded its findings and made the following recommendations:[31]

  • Having more hands-on instruction to teach servicemen on how to identify and stop ragging.
  • Equipping servicemen with a standard set of responses to help them say “No” to ragging.
  • SCDF to expand the number of channels through which servicemen can report ragging incidents.
  • SCDF to review how they can recognise positive behaviours demonstrated by officers who show care for fellow colleagues.
  • Fire station pump wells are to be decommissioned in order to remove the risk of unauthorised access.
  • Pump well testing and training to be centralised at the Civil Defence Academy (CDA) which would not compromise the SCDF’s operational effectiveness. For the pump wells at CDA, the Board suggested that SCDF take additional measures to restrict access and ensure their safe usage.
  • SCDF to enhance CCTV coverage in vulnerable areas within SCDF areas.
  • SCDF to strengthen training on risk management and workplace safety.


The investigation conducted by the BOI was unrelated to the police investigation conducted by the Singapore Police Force. The police investigation led to 5 SCDF personnel being charged in court on 25 July 2018.[32]

Further developments[edit | edit source]

Criminal charges[edit | edit source]

After further investigations, 5 individuals were found guilty of the following charges:

Name Sentence Charged with Reason for charge(s)
Staff Sergeant Mohammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood 1 year and 4 weeks jail term[33] Committing a rash act causing death and abetting the obstruction of the course of justice by instigation. 1) Carried and pushed Kok Yuen Chin into the pump well.

2) Told Adighazali Suhaimi at 11.23pm on 13 May 2018 to delete a video documenting the incident.

First Warrant Officer Mohamed Farid Mohamed Saleh Undisclosed Abetting a rash act causing death. Instructed Fatwa Mahmood to push Kok Yuen Chin into the pump well.
Lieutenant Kenneth Chong Chee Boon Undisclosed Abetting a rash act causing grievous hurt by illegal omission. 1) As Rota commander on duty, he allowed the ragging incident to occur under his supervision despite being aware that ragging is a violation of SCDF policies.

2) Allegedly shouted "no filming" to the SCDF personnel in the fire station, before the ragging incident occurred.[34]

First Senior Warrant Officer Nazhan Mohamed Nazi Undisclosed Abetting a rash act causing grievous hurt by illegal omission. As deputy Rota commander on duty, he allowed the ragging incident to occur under his supervision despite being aware that ragging is a violation of SCDF policies.
Staff Sergeant Adighazali Suhaimi 1 month jail term Intentionally obstructing the course of justice. Made the conscious decision to delete the video on his phone which would have been useful evidence with regards to the criminal investigation conducted.[35]

Decommissioning of pump wells[edit | edit source]

On 13 September 2018, the SCDF explained in a press release that they will decommission all 19 pump wells at fire stations.[36] As part of the decommissioning process, the pump wells will be filled up with granite chips and covered with concrete slabs. It was predicted that the whole process would have been completed by December 2018.

References / Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. “Key Recommendations of the Board of Inquiry on the Death of SCDF Full-Time National Serviceman Corporal Kok Yuen Chin”. Ministry of Home Affairs. September 13, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mha.gov.sg/newsroom/press-release/news/key-recommendations-of-the-board-of-inquiry-on-the-death-of-scdf-full-time-national-serviceman-corporal-kok-yuen-chin
  2. Baharudin, Hariz. Sim, Sherlyn. “SCDF NSF who died had dreams of settling down in Singapore”. The New Paper. May 16, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/scdf-nsf-who-died-had-dreams-settling-down-singapore
  3. “Key Recommendations of the Board of Inquiry on the Death of SCDF Full-Time National Serviceman Corporal Kok Yuen Chin”. Ministry of Home Affairs. September 13, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mha.gov.sg/newsroom/press-release/news/key-recommendations-of-the-board-of-inquiry-on-the-death-of-scdf-full-time-national-serviceman-corporal-kok-yuen-chin
  4. “Key Recommendations of the Board of Inquiry on the Death of SCDF Full-Time National Serviceman Corporal Kok Yuen Chin”. Ministry of Home Affairs. September 13, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mha.gov.sg/newsroom/press-release/news/key-recommendations-of-the-board-of-inquiry-on-the-death-of-scdf-full-time-national-serviceman-corporal-kok-yuen-chin
  5. “Key Recommendations of the Board of Inquiry on the Death of SCDF Full-Time National Serviceman Corporal Kok Yuen Chin”. Ministry of Home Affairs. September 13, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mha.gov.sg/newsroom/press-release/news/key-recommendations-of-the-board-of-inquiry-on-the-death-of-scdf-full-time-national-serviceman-corporal-kok-yuen-chin
  6. Tang, Louisa. Chua, Alfred. “SCDF NSF drowns in ragging incident; Police arrest 2 regulars”. Today. May 15, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/full-time-scdf-national-serviceman-dies-after-getting-pump-well
  7. Tan, Tam Mei. “Jail for SCDF officer who gave NSF fatal push into pump well”. The Straits Times. October 24, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/jail-for-scdf-officer-who-gave-nsf-fatal-push-into-pump-well
  8. Tan, Tam Mei. “Jail for SCDF officer who gave NSF fatal push into pump well”. The Straits Times. October 24, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/jail-for-scdf-officer-who-gave-nsf-fatal-push-into-pump-well
  9. Tan, Tam Mei. “Jail for SCDF officer who gave NSF fatal push into pump well”. The Straits Times. October 24, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/jail-for-scdf-officer-who-gave-nsf-fatal-push-into-pump-well
  10. Baker, Jalelah Abu. “SCDF officer jailed over death of NSF Kok Yuen Chin”. Channel News Asia. October 23, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/scdf-officer-jailed-nsf-kok-yuen-chin-death-ragging-10855098
  11. Baker, Jalelah Abu. “SCDF officer jailed over death of NSF Kok Yuen Chin”. Channel News Asia. October 23, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/scdf-officer-jailed-nsf-kok-yuen-chin-death-ragging-10855098
  12. “SCDF ragging death: NSF taken out of pump well 36 minutes after being pushed in, following several failed rescue bids”. Today. September 13, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/scdf-ragging-death-nsf-taken-out-pump-well-36-minutes-after-being-pushed-following-several
  13. Tang, Louisa. Chua, Alfred. “SCDF NSF drowns in ragging incident; Police arrest 2 regulars”. Today. May 15, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/full-time-scdf-national-serviceman-dies-after-getting-pump-well
  14. “Key Recommendations of the Board of Inquiry on the Death of SCDF Full-Time National Serviceman Corporal Kok Yuen Chin”. Ministry of Home Affairs. September 13, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mha.gov.sg/newsroom/press-release/news/key-recommendations-of-the-board-of-inquiry-on-the-death-of-scdf-full-time-national-serviceman-corporal-kok-yuen-chin
  15. “SCDF ragging death: NSF taken out of pump well 36 minutes after being pushed in, following several failed rescue bids”. Today. September 13, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/scdf-ragging-death-nsf-taken-out-pump-well-36-minutes-after-being-pushed-following-several
  16. “Key Recommendations of the Board of Inquiry on the Death of SCDF Full-Time National Serviceman Corporal Kok Yuen Chin”. Ministry of Home Affairs. September 13, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mha.gov.sg/newsroom/press-release/news/key-recommendations-of-the-board-of-inquiry-on-the-death-of-scdf-full-time-national-serviceman-corporal-kok-yuen-chin
  17. Lam, Lydia. "Jail for SCDF officer who obstructed justice by deleting video of NSF Kok Yuen Chin being pushed in well". Channel News Asia. December 5, 2018. Accessed on 28 May 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/scdf-officer-deleted-video-kok-yuen-chin-pushed-in-well-jail-10998868
  18. “Key Recommendations of the Board of Inquiry on the Death of SCDF Full-Time National Serviceman Corporal Kok Yuen Chin”. Ministry of Home Affairs. September 13, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mha.gov.sg/newsroom/press-release/news/key-recommendations-of-the-board-of-inquiry-on-the-death-of-scdf-full-time-national-serviceman-corporal-kok-yuen-chin
  19. “4 more SCDF officers probed for death of NSF Kok Yuen Chin; AGC reviewing case”. Today. May 16, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/death-scdf-nsf-investigation-broadens-4-officers-who-had-promotions-withheld-pending
  20. “SCDF chief's message to officers”. The Straits Times. May 17, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/scdf-chiefs-message-to-officers
  21. Tan, C.K. “Father of SCDF NSF who died in pump well: 'I suspect that his face hit the wall when he fell in'”. Stomp. May 15, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/father-scdf-nsf-who-died-pump-well-i-suspect-his-face-hit-wall-when-he-fell
  22. Singapore Civil Defence Force. Facebook. 14 May 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.facebook.com/SCDFpage/posts/10155224545710583
  23. “SCDF chief's message to officers”. The Straits Times. May 17, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/scdf-chiefs-message-to-officers
  24. “SCDF chief's message to officers”. The Straits Times. May 17, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/scdf-chiefs-message-to-officers
  25. Hamzah, Aqil. Sim, Sherlyn. “SCDF NSF who died in pump well could not swim”. The New Paper. May 15, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/scdf-nsf-who-died-pump-well-could-not-swim
  26. Chua, Alfred. “Late SCDF NSF knew he would be ‘thrown’ into pump well; was terrified as he couldn’t swim: Cousin”. Today. May 15, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/he-could-not-swim-was-afraid-water-say-girlfriend-and-relatives-late-scdf-nsf
  27. Chua, Alfred. “Late SCDF NSF knew he would be ‘thrown’ into pump well; was terrified as he couldn’t swim: Cousin”. Today. May 15, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/he-could-not-swim-was-afraid-water-say-girlfriend-and-relatives-late-scdf-nsf
  28. Tan, C.K. “Father of SCDF NSF who died in pump well: 'I suspect that his face hit the wall when he fell in'”. Stomp. May 15, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.asiaone.com/singapore/father-scdf-nsf-who-died-pump-well-i-suspect-his-face-hit-wall-when-he-fell
  29. Mahmud, Aqil Haziq. “Drowning of SCDF NSF: Incident a ‘clear violation’ of rules, says Shanmugam”. Channel News Asia. May 17, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/scdf-death-shanmugam-investigation-10232058
  30. Tan, Tam Mei. “More officers being investigated over SCDF NSF death, four promotions withheld: MHA”. The Straits Times. May 16, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/more-officers-being-investigated-over-scdf-nsf-death-four-promotions-withheld-mha
  31. “Key Recommendations of the Board of Inquiry on the Death of SCDF Full-Time National Serviceman Corporal Kok Yuen Chin”. Ministry of Home Affairs. September 13, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.mha.gov.sg/newsroom/press-release/news/key-recommendations-of-the-board-of-inquiry-on-the-death-of-scdf-full-time-national-serviceman-corporal-kok-yuen-chin
  32. Tan, Tam Mei. Ng, Hui Wen. “NSF's death: 5 SCDF officers charged”. The Straits Times. July 26, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/nsfs-death-5-scdf-officers-charged
  33. Tan, Tam Mei. “Jail for SCDF officer who gave NSF fatal push into pump well”. The Straits Times. October 24, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/jail-for-scdf-officer-who-gave-nsf-fatal-push-into-pump-well
  34. Lam, Lydia. “Jail for SCDF officer who obstructed justice by deleting video of NSF Kok Yuen Chin being pushed in well”. Channel News Asia. December 5, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/scdf-officer-deleted-video-kok-yuen-chin-pushed-in-well-jail-10998868#cxrecs_s
  35. Tan, Tam Mei. Ng, Hui Wen. “NSF's death: 5 SCDF officers charged”. The Straits Times. July 26, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/nsfs-death-5-scdf-officers-charged
  36. Kamil, Asyraf. “Pump wells to be decommissioned at all fire stations by Dec 2018 following death of SCDF NSF”. Today. September 13, 2018. Accessed on 12 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/pump-wells-be-decommissioned-all-fire-stations-dec-2018-following-death-scdf-nsf