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Late SCDF NSF knew he would be ‘thrown’ into pump well; was terrified as he couldn’t swim: Cousin

SINGAPORE — The late Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, whose body was found at the bottom of a pump well at Tuas View Fire Station, knew he was going to be thrown into one, and was terrified as he did not know how to swim, said his cousin.

The full-time national serviceman from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) who died after he was found unconscious at the bottom of a pump well did not know how to swim, according to his girlfriend and relatives.

The full-time national serviceman from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) who died after he was found unconscious at the bottom of a pump well did not know how to swim, according to his girlfriend and relatives.

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SINGAPORE — The late Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, whose body was found at the bottom of a pump well at Tuas View Fire Station, knew he was going to be thrown into one, and was terrified as he did not know how to swim, said his cousin.

His girlfriend and family also tried to persuade the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) serviceman against joining his squad mates for the celebratory activities planned to mark his impending end of full-time national service.

Against their advice, Cpl Kok returned to camp, bearing "a lot of snacks" for everyone as he wanted to "treat his colleagues", said his cousin, Ms Julia Ng, on Tuesday (May 15).

The 22-year-old NSF died on Sunday after his body was found unconscious at the bottom of the 12m-deep pump well at the fire station, which was filled with 11m of water.

According to the SCDF, the NSF, who is a Malaysian and Singapore permanent resident, had been celebrating his impending operationally ready date (ORD) with his squad mates that night.

Ms Ng told TODAY that Cpl Kok had informed his elder sister and younger brother on May 9 that some of his colleagues at the fire station had "wanted to throw him in the water".

"He was very scared, because he cannot swim. His sister told him (not to) join them," said Ms Ng, 24.

She added that Cpl Kok also told his girlfriend, Ms Clare Heng Ming Yi, about the planned celebrations a month before, and was similarly dissuaded from going for it.

But Ns Ng said: "He still (went) back because (it was) already (his) last day … he even bought a lot of snacks... saying that he wanted (to) treat his colleagues."

Adding that his parents are very sad, Ms Ng said the family hopes "the police can find out what actually happened".

Two regular servicemen — a Warrant Officer 1 and a Staff Sergeant — have been arrested following preliminary investigations which have pointed to prohibited activities taking place. A Board of Inquiry will also be convened to look into the matter.

On the incident, Ms Ng, a university student, said that she was "curious" why Cpl Kok was pushed into the pump well, "because...a pump well is not a place to play".

Ms Ng said May 8 was the last time the family saw Cpl Kok, who usually returns to his hometown of Malacca when he books out. According to media reports, his body has been taken back to his hometown.

Cpl Kok leaves behind his parents, and two siblings.

On Tuesday, Ms Heng, Cpl Kok's girlfriend, wrote on Facebook that he was "afraid of water … (and) did not know how to swim".

"When I tried to teach you how to swim, you didn't want to learn," she wrote.

When asked if Cpl Kok's commanders and fellow servicemen knew that he could not swim, the SCDF said police investigations were ongoing and declined comment.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said that he had met with Cpl Kok's family members.

He added: "It was a tragic loss of life, young man full of potential.

"Nothing is going to bring the young man back to life. It was a tragic loss, investigations are continuing."

On Tuesday, Ms Heng also recounted on Facebook the last conversation she had with her late boyfriend on Saturday night, a day before the fatal pump well incident.

Ms Heng said she could not sleep that night and noticed Cpl Kok talking in his sleep, which she found unusual as he had never done that before.

"I started to think that you were talking to me, and I woke you up to ask what happened," wrote Ms Heng in Chinese.

"You then asked me why I was not asleep, and I replied that I could not sleep, and told you to go ahead to bed first. This was the last time we spoke face to face."

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