17 May 2018

Oral Reply to Parliamentary Question on the Death of SCDF NSF CPL Kok Yuen Chin by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law

Question:

Mr Christopher De Souza: Can the Minister for Home Affairs assure us that all steps are being taken to help ensure that such an unfortunate and unnecessary death does not happen again.

Answer:


Introduction

1.     Mr Speaker Sir, there are three aspects to this tragic case. First is the family –their grief and loss at CPL Kok’s passing, a young life which has been prematurely cut short. The family is at the front and centre of our thoughts and prayers. As we talk about other matters, I want to emphasise that. It is tragic that this has happened. We must, and we will do right by them, and by the late CPL Kok.

 

2.     I will also deal with two other aspects; what happened in this case, and what we can do to try and make sure that this does not happen again.

 

What Happened

 

3.     We have released the details that we can at this stage. There is a fair bit of evidence as to what happened, both witnesses and objective evidence. But it is not appropriate for me to go into the facts at this stage.

 

4.     There will be a Board of Inquiry (BOI). The majority of members will be from outside the Government. There will almost certainly be criminal proceedings. AGC has told me that, after reviewing the facts at this stage. Based on the facts that I have seen, I think so too. There should be criminal charges. The BOI will look into the facts. The facts will also come out in public, through court proceedings. Everything that is relevant will be out.

 

5.     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. Some people play games, they horse around, they make people like CPL Kok do dangerous things, even force them into dangerous situations. People who do this don’t think, they don’t think how it can go wrong. When it does go wrong, a life is lost, needlessly lost.

 

What We Are Going to Do

 

6.     Third, what are we going to do? I think it is imperative that we see what went wrong and learn the lessons. What more can we do to stop this sort of behaviour? We have clear rules. Commanders emphasise that to the officers and all new enlistees are told what the rules are. Punishments have been meted out, detentions have been given, when infractions have been found. How do we make sure that there is zero-tolerance? Parents send their children to NS, they trust us. We have to maintain their trust.

 

7.     I have directed SCDF as well as the other Home Team agencies to relook the rules and how they are enforced, focus on the enforcement and come up with a further set of measures by next week. Once they are finalised, I will announce them next week.

 

8.     Meanwhile, I have made it clear that hereafter, it will be a command responsibility to ensure that such conduct is not repeated. And hereafter, Unit Commanders will be held responsible for anything like this that happens, for any kind of conduct that is in violation or in breach. SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap has sent a letter in very clear terms on this yesterday to all officers. He has also personally spoken with the Commanders, emphasising that message. The same will be done with the other Home Team agencies.

 

9.     There will be zero tolerance. We have to do, and we will do our best, to not let this happen again.

 

10.     Thank you, Sir.

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