Singapore

One brother jailed, another fined, for not reporting for NS

Brothers jailed, fined for failing to report for NS and remaining outside S'pore without permit

Two brothers remained out of Singapore without a valid exit permit and failed to report for national service for more than three years, a court heard.

But they went on to serve their full-time NS exceptionally well - one was selected for Officer Cadet School (OCS) while the other won a Soldier Of The Month award.

On Tuesday, Sakthikanesh Chidambaram was jailed for three weeks while his younger brother Vandana Kumar Chidambaram was fined $6,000, reported The Straits Times Online.

Sakthikanesh, 25, earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to report for NS for five years, six months and 17 days.

Vandana, who turns 23 in two weeks, earlier pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to report for NS for three years, six months and two days.

Both men also admitted to one count each of remaining outside Singapore without a valid exit permit and these charges were taken into consideration in sentencing.

The prosecution, which had asked for short jail terms for both men, intends to appeal for stiffer sentences.

Defence lawyers had asked for fines for both.

A district court heard that the brothers' Singaporean mother settled in India after she was married in 1990 to an Indian national who works as a civil servant in the energy sector.

But she returned to Singapore in 1991 and 1993 to deliver her sons at Kandang Kerbau Hospital.

She would go back to India when each son was about two months old.

Sakthikanesh and Vandana Kumar grew up in India and attended Delhi Public School.

They visited Singapore six to seven times between 2000 and 2009, with each visit lasting over a month.

Both men renewed their passports twice. One applied for and got his identity card in 2006 and the other in 2009.

In June 2008, Sakthikanesh was told to register for NS, but he left Singapore later that month to pursue his university education at National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra, in India.

He returned only in April 2014, after he had completed his studies. He enlisted for full-time NS in September that year.

In May 2010, Vandana was told to register for NS, but he returned to Singapore only in June 2014 and enlisted for full-time NS in August that year.

In his judgment grounds, District Judge John Ng found that the brothers had "a substantial connection to Singapore". He noted that both got their ICs and used Singapore passports for travel, and that their mother co-owned an HDB flat.

The judge said: "If the circumstances showed that the offender (or his parents) had demonstrated all along an intention to retain his Singapore citizenship, it behoves upon him to discharge his NS obligations to Singapore at a time when other male Singaporeans are asked to report for NS and not be allowed to perform his duties only at a time that is convenient to him or of his own choosing.

"From the facts of this case, it is clear to me that the parents and the boys had no intention of giving up their Singapore citizenship before their NS obligations came to the fore."

SURRENDERED

The judge, however, took into account the fact that both men surrendered themselves and had pleaded guilty to their charges.

They also performed their NS exceptionally well, he noted.

"Sakthikanesh did so well in Basic Military Training, showing leadership potential, that he qualified for OCS," said Judge Ng.

"He had almost finished the OCS course to become a commissioned officer, when he was suddenly and devastatingly deprived of that opportunity, due to being charged in court for the present offences.

"As for Vandana, although he did not qualify for command school, based on the testimonial he had received from his superiors, as well as his solid performances, he was chosen to be an Armoured Vehicle Gunner for the SG50 National Day Parade and he was also named as his company's Soldier Of The Month for May this year.

"I agreed with the defence that the exceptional nature of their performances in NS is further buttressed by the fact that despite having planted their roots and spent their lives in India, they have adapted to local culture, built camaraderie and earned the respect of their peers and superiors during NS."

For their Enlistment Act offences, Sakthikanesh and Vandana could have been fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to three years.

courtSingaporenational service