NSFs needn't obey illegal orders: Judge
A FORMER full-time national serviceman (NSF) who was driving a military jeep without a licence when it crashed and killed his close friend was sentenced to a 10-day short detention order yesterday.
Cavin Tan, 22, had no Class 3 driving licence when he caused the death of NSF Tan Mou Sheng and caused hurt to NSFs Ow Yong Wei Long and Dickson Hong, then 20, at the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Marsiling training area in Mandai 21/2 years ago. He pleaded guilty to both charges.
It also emerged that he had been ordered to drive the jeep.
District Judge Low Wee Ping said: "Perhaps one positive outcome of this case is that NSFs now know that they do not need to obey a manifestly illegal or unlawful order."
He asked Tan's lawyer Laurence Goh, a senior officer in the SAF, to get the message out that NSFs need not obey any order that is illegal or manifestly unlawful.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tang Shangjun said that the four men - all instructors - had been involved in a training exercise from May 4 to 11 that year, led by Master Sergeant Lee Kong Kean. The 33-year-old has been charged and his case is pending.
Tan was told by Lee to drive the jeep, even though he had no Class 3 military licence and had not been trained to drive one.
That morning, he was driving behind another jeep when he lost control while negotiating a downward slope with a left bend. DPP Tang said that Tan misjudged the bend and made a sudden, sharp left turn. The jeep tilted as a result, rotated around and overturned several times before landing on its left side.
Both NSFs Hong and Ow Yong, who had not been wearing seat belts or helmets, were thrown out and injured.
Tan unbuckled himself and found Mou Sheng pinned under at his left hip. He was bleeding from his nose and mouth, and soon lapsed into unconsciousness.
The soldiers managed to lift the jeep and pull Mou Sheng out. He died later from severe pelvic crush injuries.
Mr Goh said in mitigation that Tan, now an undergraduate and on the dean's list, obeyed the order to drive even when it had been highlighted to Lee that he did not have a Class 3 licence.