“When I was with you the night before, somehow I couldn’t fall asleep. At the time, you were talking in your sleep. I found it strange because you don’t usually do that. At first, I thought you were talking to me and woke you up to ask what you were trying to say. Instead, you asked me why I wasn’t sleeping yet. I just told you that I couldn’t sleep, and that you should sleep first.”
That was the last time Clare Heng spoke face-to-face with her late boyfriend, Kok Yuen Chin.
The 22-year-old SCDF full-time national serviceman, a Singapore Permanent resident, drowned on Sunday (13 May), after he was made to enter a pump well at Tuas View Fire Station as part of a pre-ORD ragging.
The pump well, which is 12 metres deep, is used for marine and rescue training or to test water pumping equipment.
During the incident, the water level was about one metre below the opening of the well.
Heng recounted how her boyfriend couldn’t swim, and wasn’t keen on learning how to.
“You must have hurt… you were so scared of water. And you didn’t know how to swim. I wanted to teach you last time but you didn’t want to learn.”
CPL Kok’s aunt Madam Kok Chun Fa, said that CPL Kok had returned to Malaysia to vote in the general election last week, and even bought snacks for his SCDF colleagues in an attempt to persuade them not to rag him.
“Everyone in the camp knew that he was afraid of water, and could not swim. The whole family was worried, but we thought there would be someone supervising the situation.”
He was unconscious at the bottom of the well after the water was drained, and died despite being sent to hospital for treatment.
Two SCDF personnel – a Warrant Officer and Staff Sergeant – have been arrested as investigations into his death continue.
A Board of Inquiry has been convened to look into the case and its findings will be made public.
His body has been sent to his hometown, Malacca, where his funeral is being held.
Ragging, which is banned by SCDF, is a deep-seated tradition typically done to mark an NSF’s end of service.
Activities range from relatively harmless acts like pinning somebody down and applying boot polish to their skin, to throwing someone into water.