Sunday, June 14, 2020

Ragging and accountability

Everyone knows what hazing means. It's common usage in armed forces and fraternities. But what about "ragging"? Consider this definition:
Ragging is the term used for the so-called "initiation ritual" practiced in higher education institutions in South Asian countries, including India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The practice is similar to hazing in North America, bizutage in France, praxe in Portugal and other similar practices in educational institutions across the world. Ragging involves abuse, humiliation or harassment of new entrants or junior students by the senior students. It often takes a malignant form wherein the newcomers may be subjected to psychological or physical torture. In 2009 the University Grants Commission of India imposed regulations upon Indian universities to help curb ragging, and launched a toll-free 'anti-ragging helpline'.

Ragging is a subset of bullying. Unlike various complex forms of bullying, ragging is easily recognisable.
With that by way of background, we read of a current case of fatal ragging in the Singapore Civil Defence Force, an emergency service in the Ministry of Home Affairs. It is staffed by Regular officers, full-time National Servicemen and Operationally Ready National Service (ORNS) Men. Excerpt from the Straits Times:
Kenneth Chong Chee Boon, 37, and Nazhan Mohamed Nazi, 40, are each contesting one charge of intentionally aiding a group of SCDF servicemen to cause grievous hurt to full-time national serviceman (NSF) Kok Yuen Chin, 22, via a rash act endangering human life on the night of May 13, 2018.

They are accused of doing so by failing to prevent the group from pressuring Corporal Kok to enter the 12m-deep pump well at Tuas View Fire Station that night - an activity known as kolam - to mark the impending completion of his national service.

Chong was commander and Nazhan, deputy commander, of the station then.

Cpl Kok eventually drowned after he was pushed into the well by another serviceman, Muhammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood.
The two officers face possible sentences of up to four years' imprisonment and fines of up to HK$10,000. Three subordinates have already been sentenced. The victim was a Malaysian national with permanent residency in Singapore. The case was tried in civilian court.

The SCDF website says this about security and discipline:
National Service Offences 
Where minor offences are concerned, informal punishment such as verbal reprimands or extra duties may be given to servicemen. Other minor punishments such as extra training sessions may be given for those with poor performance during training.

For serious offences, offenders are tried by the courts or given summary trials by appointed disciplinary officers. Punishment may be in the form of a restriction of privileges, monetary fines or detention.

Absence Without Official Leave (AWOL) 
The act of AWOL is considered a very serious offence. If an NSF goes AWOL, the time spent during AWOL and detention is not counted towards National Service.

Drug and inhalant Abuse 
These are serious breaches of discipline as both of them cause great damage to the physical and mental state of the body.

Surprise urine tests are conducted frequently in all units and offenders have no chance of escaping detection. These offences are dealt with strictly and those caught are severely punished.

It is strongly advised for those who have been sniffing glue or taking drugs, to seek early help from their Instructors or Medical Officers before they are caught. They will be given proper medical treatment. They will not be punished for seeking help.

Drugs, Alcohol And Cigarettes 
NSF are forbidden to bring or consume any of the above items within the compound of SCDF. Anyone caught possessing any of these restricted / controlled items is considered to have committed a serious breach of Regimental Discipline. Offenders will face disciplinary action.

Seeking Redress 
A serviceman who believes that he has been victimised or unjustly treated, can make a complaint either to his Platoon Commander, Company Commander or supervisor.

The SCDF Provost Unit also monitors and investigates any breach of Regulations / Standing Orders. If complaints are proven to be valid, SCDF will take necessary action against the offender(s).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are subject to moderation and must be submitted under your real name. Anonymous comments will not be posted (even though the form seems to permit them).