Thursday 30 April 2015

SCDF investigating video of 'wrecked' dorm on 24 April 2015; SCDF to punish 23 officers in dorm-trashing video

SCDF 'will leave no stone unturned' in video probe
Trashing of dorm, swearing and smoking an 'isolated incident', it says
By Amelia Teng, The Straits Times, 29 Apr 2015

THE Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has assured the public it will "leave no stone unturned" in investigating two videos circulating online that show its personnel trashing a dorm, swearing and smoking.

In a one-minute clip uploaded to Facebook on Monday afternoon, the men can be seen in a dorm surrounded by upturned bed frames and mattresses, with belongings strewn all over the floor.

A second clip uploaded yesterday showed the personnel, wearing uniforms that suggest they are sergeants, cheering and filming themselves at the Civil Defence Academy in Jalan Bahar as a man smears black liquid, believed to be shoe polish, on the floor.

Many netizens urged the SCDF to punish the men involved, saying their actions reflected poorly on the force.

Colonel Abdul Razak, director of the SCDF's public affairs department, said the force is "as perturbed as the online viewers or members of the public on the matter".

He added: "Let me stress that this is an isolated incident of this nature. It does not reflect the culture, the discipline, the decorum and conduct of SCDF officers and men, be it our front-line NSFs (full-time national servicemen) and regulars, or even our operationally ready NSmen.

"Let me assure you that we take this matter very seriously, and will leave no stone unturned and will update you on the outcome."

At the start of the video, the person filming narrates: "It's the last day man, look at the dorm. It's a ruckus, it's a ruckus - the dorm is in a ruckus man."

Some personnel can be seen smoking in the dormitory, while others throw items onto a pile of broken bed frames, cupboards, fans, mattresses and chairs in a corner of the room.

One man pours liquid from a drink packet onto the floor, before flinging it away.

The video attracted more than 45,000 views before it was taken down on Monday night, though copies of it are still circulating online.

Meanwhile, a second minute-long video was uploaded by Facebook group Rilek1Corner yesterday. In it, men can be heard cheering and yelling "Pop" - short for Passing Out Parade - which signals that trainees have completed their basic military training, basic police training or basic rescue training. The clip also shows another three personnel using their smartphones to film the surroundings.

Another man smears black liquid, believed to be shoe polish, on the floor.

Property agent Jeffrey Ho, 54, was among members of the public outraged by the videos.

He said: "Maybe they were very happy or drunk, but they're not supposed to be damaging property and smoking. These are punishable offences, so they should know the consequences.

"Behaviour is very important especially when one is wearing a uniform, yet they didn't show any respect for the civil defence or the uniform. It leaves a bad impression on the public."

Lecturer Christine Keung, 55, said: "SCDF needs to follow up and conduct disciplinary action on all the officers involved.

"I cannot believe our uniformed group officers are behaving this way."

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) is investigating a video posted on Facebook showing a "wrecked" SCDF dormitory.
Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, April 27, 2015

Safeguard a good force
Editorial, The Sunday Times, 3 May 2015

W hile officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) are working alongside others under challenging conditions to support Nepal's disaster relief efforts, it is particularly vexing for the organisation to have to investigate mayhem at a dormitory here allegedly involving SCDF personnel. From what evidence that has emerged, beds and mattresses were overturned and a shameful mess was created in what could be a training institute. Responding to widely circulated videos of the incident, the SCDF spokesman emphasised its determination to get to the bottom of it all and described it as an "isolated incident of this nature".

Whatever the outcome of the probe, the event serves as a reminder of how it does not take much for a leading organisation's name to be sullied by ill-judged acts of off-duty personnel, especially in the age of social media.

All who don the SCDF uniform can take much pride in the achievements of the corps, which goes back to the late 1800s. It has also participated in global rescue missions in places like Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Myanmar and Papua New Guinea. The SCDF was the first in Asia to attain the Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Team classification, administered by the United Nations' International Search and Rescue Advisory Group.

The work of its officers and men can be hazardous as it responds to some 430 distress calls here daily, relating to fire and rescue incidents and emergency medical cases.

Public confidence in their ability to manage emergencies stands at a commendable 98 per cent, as borne out by an independent Public Perception Survey held last December. That faith is central to its objective of engaging the community so life-threatening situations and escalating risks can be dealt with even more swiftly.

Foster stronger culture of pride in the uniform

WEDNESDAY'S report ("SCDF 'will leave no stone unturned' in video probe") raises some questions about the standards of discipline within the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

The trainees involved in trashing a dormitory had just graduated as specialists from their section commander training.

This group comprised both full-time national servicemen and regular servicemen.

Their actions show that their standards of discipline are appalling.

They may have had the aptitude to complete their training, but their attitude is clearly lacking.

As leaders, they have disgraced both their uniform and their country.

They need to be punished for their actions.

They should also be made to compensate for the damage they have caused to government property.

On a deeper level, was their behaviour indicative of the standards within the SCDF?

Are there issues that need to be investigated?

Let us consider the differences in recognition trainees receive in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the SCDF.

In the SAF, when trainees - be they recruits, specialists or officer cadets - successfully complete their training, their graduation ceremonies are celebrated with pride, and witnessed by families and loved ones.

Not so in the SCDF. Its graduation ceremonies are "closed-door" affairs, which do not involve family members in attendance.

Why is there this difference? It should not be a question of budget or logistics. There should be a way to ensure the same level of recognition for all trainees.

How else do you build a culture of pride in the uniform when these servicemen are not honoured and recognised for their sacrifice from the very start? This matter needs to be addressed. 

As one of the five pillars of our Total Defence, members of the SCDF should not be treated as poor cousins of the SAF. 

Collis Loh Kah Fook
ST Forum, 1 May 2015

Isolated incident not representative of SCDF culture

With reference to Mr Collis Loh Kah Fook's letter ("Foster stronger culture of pride in the uniform"; last Friday), the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) is very disappointed with, and takes a very serious view of, the behaviour of our officers shown in the video.

We have since commenced a thorough investigation and will take firm disciplinary action against those who are found guilty of misconduct.

This is an isolated incident involving a few officers and is in no way representative of the culture and discipline of SCDF officers, whose personal and professional conduct are expected to be exemplary.

The acts of these wayward officers go against our core values of pride and care, and to always put others before self. The SCDF and our officers will continue to live by these values as we carry out our duties.

Every day, SCDF officers put themselves on the front line, saving lives and property in the face of danger.

Just last year alone, SCDF officers responded to some 160,000 calls involving fire and rescue incidents, as well as emergency medical cases.

Currently, we have 60 officers in Nepal under Operation Lionheart to carry out disaster rescue and recovery operations.

Every year, the Civil Defence Academy trains about 28,000 local and international participants on various courses. Contrary to Mr Loh's perception, the graduation ceremonies of all our milestone courses - specialists or officer cadets - involve their families.

This allows the graduates to share their proud moments with their families and reinforce their pride in being a member of the life saving force.

A. Razak Raheem (Colonel)
Director, Public Affairs Department
Singapore Civil Defence Force
ST Forum, 3 May 2015

* SCDF men may be demoted or sacked for trashing dorm
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 27 Jun 2015

THE Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers who were filmed misbehaving and damaging property in a dormitory in April may be demoted or even dismissed.

The culprits comprise nine regular and 14 full-time national service (NSF) officers, all of whom are sergeants.

The regulars are facing civil service disciplinary action, with punishments ranging from a letter of warning to dismissal, depending on the extent of their involvement, said the SCDF.

The NSFs have been charged under the Civil Defence Act and could be fined, put in detention and/or demoted.

Another five regular officers with supervisory roles could be given letters of warning or advice. It is not known what ranks these five officers hold.

The SCDF did not say when punishments will be decided.

Yesterday's development comes almost two months after the SCDF said it will "leave no stone unturned" in investigating the behaviour of its officers.

The clips showed several officers from the 20th Section Commander Course trashing a dorm at the Civil Defence Academy in Jalan Bahar on April 24.

In the first minute-long clip uploaded on April 27, the men were seen in a room with overturned bedframes, mattresses and cupboards. Some of them were smoking in the dorm, which is an offence.

A second video posted the next day showed the men cheering and filming themselves as one of them smeared what is believed to be shoe polish on the floor.

The incident prompted criticism from the public, who urged the SCDF to punish the men involved, saying their actions reflected poorly on the force.

A 30-year-old staff sergeant, a regular who has been with the SCDF for 10 years, said he and his colleagues felt embarrassed when the videos surfaced.

"It tainted our career and reputation. It's just their act of stupidity, it doesn't represent the whole force," he said. "They should be punished as a wake-up call and to prevent this from happening again."

Yesterday, the SCDF said it "deeply regrets" the misconduct of its officers and takes a "very serious view" of it.

"Such behaviour does not reflect the culture and discipline expected of all SCDF officers," it said, adding that all officers are expected to demonstrate exemplary personal and professional conduct.

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