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The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has announced its enhanced measures against ragging and unauthorised initiation activities following the tragic death of SCDF full-time National Serviceman CPL Kok Yuen Chin.
Cpl Kok died after he was found unconscious inside a pump well at Tuas View Fire Station on May 13.
He had been celebrating his impending operationally ready date (ORD) with his squad mates and one of the ragging activities involved getting him into the 12-m deep pump well.
The SCDF said that it has zero-tolerance towards all forms of ragging and has existing measures in place to deter and detect such activities.
These include the Whistle Blowing Programme where all SCDF officers are allowed to report any wrongful practices to their supervisors or commanders, Commissioner SCDF or Ministry of Home Affairs Headquarters.
All personnel receive briefings on anti-ragging awareness upon joining the SCDF, upon their posting to units and at periodic intervals.
SCDF produces anti-ragging materials such as videos and posters that are disseminated to increase officers' awareness of SCDF's zero-tolerance policy against ragging.
Example of an SCDF anti-ragging poster
Any officer who carries out or participates in ragging activities face disciplinary actions and may also face criminal prosecution.
Here are the changes:
Currently, any SCDF NSFs or Operationally Ready National Servicemen (ORNs) face a detention sentence of up to 40 days and a demotion in rank if they are found to have participated in any ragging or unauthorised initiation activities.
SCDF regular officers are disciplined under the Public Service Commission disciplinary framework and can be fined, demoted or dismissed from service.
These penalties will now be extended to officers who are found to be aware of such activities but did not attempt to stop or report them.
A metal grating will be installed across the opening of the pump well, which will be locked to prevent unauthorised access.
Access to and use of the pump wells will be strictly controlled.
CCTV coverage within SCDF premises will be expanded to deter and detect unauthorised activities.
New 24/7 staff feedback helpline
A new 24/7 staff feedback helpline will be introduced to augment existing whistle-blowing framework for officers to raise any grievances or flag misconduct within the organisation.
This will allow SCDF officers and their families to contact SCDF at any time to provide feedback relating to the workplace, including feedback and concerns over unacceptable practices.
NSFs and their parents/guardians will be given information about this helpline at the point of enlistment.
Currently, one-to-one interviews between NSFs and their supervisors are conducted fortnightly during their first three months in a new unit. These continue on a quarterly basis thereafter.
Now, fortnightly interviews will also be held during the last three months of the NSF's service, and conducted by senior SCDF officers who are not based at the same station, for impartiality.
All newly appointed commanders will have to undergo a training programme communicating the expectations of command, advise them how to detect and prevent such activities and how to identify vulnerable individuals.