SINGAPORE - The moment Mr Kok Meng Hwa stepped out of the courtroom, the man who had pushed his son into a fire station pump well, went up to him, grasped his hand and apologised.
Tears streamed down Mr Kok's face, but the 56-year-old construction worker, did not respond to Muhammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood, a regular in the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
The brief encounter on Tuesday (Oct 23) took place outside a courtroom at the State Courts in Havelock Road where Nur Fatwa, 34, had earlier pleaded guilty to pushing Corporal Kok Yuen Chin, 22, into a 12m-deep well at Tuas View Fire Station, causing him to drown.
The tragedy on the night of May 13, 2018, however, began on a celebratory note.
Cpl Kok, who was serving his last day of duty before his operationally ready date (ORD) on May 16, had taken part in a ragging ritual that involved him getting into the pump well filled with water.
He did not know how to swim and had drowned after he was pushed in, said court documents.
On Tuesday afternoon, Nur Fatwa was sentenced to a year and four weeks' jail, after he admitted to causing death by a rash act and also abetting the obstruction of justice when he told another officer to delete a video recording of the incident.
Four other SCDF officers have also been charged for the incident.
On Tuesday, Cpl Kok's father and aunts were in court to witness the sentencing.
Mohammad Nur Fatwa Mahmood, a staff sergeant, admitted to pushing Corporal Kok Yuen Chin into the well on May 13, 2018, at Tuas View Fire Station.
As Mr Kok stood silent in grief, his younger sister, Madam Helen Kok, 55, a nurse, told Nur Fatwa: "You all shouldn't have played this game. Why didn't you all think of the consequences?"
Nur Fatwa, who is out on bail, held her hand and apologised repeatedly.
After Nur Fatwa left, Mr Kok told reporters in Mandarin: "From his expression, I could sense his remorse."
When asked if he and his family accepted Nur Fatwa's apology, another of Cpl Kok's aunts, Madam Karen Kok, said it made no difference to them.
The 53-year-old, who works in insurance, said in Mandarin: "Things have already happened, my nephew won't come back. They shouldn't have been playing like this."
Mr Kok, when asked for his view on the length of Nur Fatwa's sentence, said: "I have nothing to say because no matter how long it is, my son won't return."
He added that if the motivations for the ragging were not malicious and were for "fun" then his son would not have wanted his friends to get a heavy sentence.
"But I can't ask him about this because he's no longer here."
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.