Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Easy to Say, Difficult to Do

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 8.54.48 pmReading the news today, I learnt that Illegal orders are, of course, illegal. Thank you, judge, for clarifying, and further that we don’t need to follow illegal orders. The challenge, though, is how do you know an order is illegal? Many people aren’t even well versed with our law. How are they able to determine if an order is illegal?

Sure, they are referring to orders that are manifestly illegal or unlawful. Still, given the cluelessness of some people, they don’t even know what qualifies as so. In fact, for the sake of argument, the judge may be suggesting that illegal and unlawful orders are alright, just not those that are manifestly so. That makes things all so much more confusing. If I know something is illegal, do I then next need to determine how manifestly illegal the order is?

I understand what the judge is trying to say. The problem is, saying is easy. Asking people on the ground to do is not easy. Worse, in the context of Full-time National Servicemen (NSF) serving their National Service, who have been so trained to take instructions from their superiors or commanders, they could well have the mindset that any orders from them surely must be obeyed, and hence must be legal.

Which NSF in his right mind will so boldly challenge his commander, “Sir, is your order a manifestly unlawful one?” Or perhaps to, before following an order, to get confirmation from his commander, “Sir, your order is not manifestly unlawful right?”

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