Ben Davis did not intend to return for NS, says Mindef

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Ministry says footballer did not intend to serve NS

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) issued a statement yesterday explaining why it had rejected footballer Benjamin Davis' request for deferment from National Service (NS), saying the 17-year-old had no intention of returning to Singapore to perform his NS duties.

But Ben's father Harvey Davis insisted that was not the case, and said he would continue to work on an appeal.

Last month, Ben signed a two-year professional contract with Fulham FC, a team newly promoted to the English Premier League (EPL).

In its statement, Mindef said that Mr Davis would not commit to a date when his son would return to serve NS, and had stated that he would put his son's professional career first.

"Mr Davis' actions are meant to further his own professional career, not national interest. As his father openly admitted, he is looking out for his son's future, not Singapore's," Mindef said.

But speaking to The New Paper last night, Mr Davis said: "As I've stated in my e-mail to the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) on 15 May 2018, Ben will return to Singapore and serve his NS if he doesn't get an extension of the current two-year contract."

In its initial statement on the decision not to grant deferment, Mindef said it had consulted MCCY on the issue.

Mr Davis said he has been working through the Football Association of Singapore (FAS), national agency Sport Singapore (SportSG) and MCCY over Ben's deferment and had not met any representative from Mindef. He said: "I hope Mindef can inform us what new information it requires so that we will be able to work with FAS and provide the information."

On Tuesday, FAS had said it strongly supported Ben's deferment request, as it believes that the support for a Singaporean to play at the highest level will have benefits to the community and nation. It added that it would work with the family to try and show "Mindef the merits of the application and to assuage Mindef's concerns over Benjamin's national service commitments".

Earlier, Mindef revealed that it had informed the Davis family that the deferment request was rejected on June 11. On June 29, Ben signed the contract with Fulham, becoming the first Singaporean to do so with an EPL club.

Mindef highlighted this and said: "Mr Davis went on to sign the contract despite the rejection for deferment and his father has publicly stated that he would encourage Mr Davis to renounce his Singapore citizenship in order to pursue his career."

In a statement yesterday, SportSG said it supported Mindef's decision. This was because the family was unable to give a definite commitment to return for NS.

Mr Davis said that in his e-mail to MCCY, he had stated that even though renunciation was an option, it was not Ben's intention to do so as he would like to represent Singapore.

He added that he had been clear in his discussions with SportSG and MCCY that Ben should do his national service, but the question was when.

"It is a possibility that Ben could be offered a new two-year contract in 2019 after the first year of his professional contract...," he said.

Singapore Football