SCDF ragging death: Commanders of fire station contest charges
"Live also difficult, die also difficult."
This was one of the last words uttered to full-time national serviceman (NSF) Corporal Kok Yuen Chin before he died.
The exchange with fellow Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officer Adighazali Suhaimi was captured in video footage shown in court yesterday.
Cpl Kok, 22, is seen smiling as he sat on the edge of the 12m-deep well filled with water.
Adighazali, who has already been jailed for his role in the incident, also said in Malay: "ORD pun kena terjun kolam", which means "ORD (operationally ready date) also must dive into the pool."
However, these statements were not meant to be taken literally, said Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Al-Khudaifi Chang at yesterday's trial where two SCDF Rota commanders are contesting charges against them.
On May 13 last year, Cpl Kok drowned after he was pushed into a pump well at Tuas View Fire Station as part of activities to mark the completion of his national service.
Lieutenant Kenneth Chong Chee Boon, 38, was station commander that night and Nazhan Mohamed Nazi, 41, a first senior warrant officer, was deputy commander.
The two men were in court yesterday for the first day of their trial.
They were each charged with abetting a rash act that caused grievous hurt by unlawful omission.
They allegedly failed to prevent a group of officers from making Cpl Kok enter the pump well, thereby endangering his life.
Cpl Kok, a Malaysian national and Singapore permanent resident, failed to surface after being pushed into the well.
His colleagues drained the well but it took 36 minutes before they pulled him out and he had drowned.
SSgt Chang, who was on duty on May 13 last year, said yesterday that the night started with a celebration for Cpl Kok in the control room where more than 10 officers, including Chong and Nazhan, had gathered.
After cutting a cake and presenting a plaque to Cpl Kok, some of the officers grabbed the NSF and carried him towards the pump well. SSgt Chang was one of them.
"I was thinking that we were just trying to scare him and not throw him in," he said, adding that at no point did anyone try to stop them.
He said Nazhan followed the group to the pump well but did not stay with them for more than five minutes. He left and went to the fire station office.
At one point, Chong stuck his head out of the nearby control room's window to tell them not to record any video of the incident.
Four videos documenting the events leading up to Cpl Kok's death were shown in court.
In one taken seconds before the fatal push, Cpl Kok is seen sitting on the well's edge laughing with the officers around him.
SSgt Chang said this was when the question of whether Cpl Kok could swim was raised, to which Cpl Kok said he could not swim.
The case resumes today.