Singapore Football

Fulham’s Davis has defaulted on NS: Mindef

Singapore teen footballer Ben Davis has missed his compulsory national service (NS) and now faces charges that carry up to three years in jail, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said yesterday.

Davis penned a two-year contract with English Premier League club Fulham last July, becoming the first Singaporean to join an English top-flight club.

But Mindef refused to let the 18-year-old defer his NS so that he could continue his stint with the club.

"Mr Benjamin Davis is a National Service (NS) defaulter. He failed to report for NS as required. He is also staying overseas without a valid Exit Permit," Mindef said in a statement on its website.

It added that Davis has committed offences under the Enlistment Act, and if convicted, could be fined up to $10,000 and/or imprisoned for up to three years.

His father, Harvey Davis, who has previously spoken on his behalf, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen explained in Parliament last year why they did not approve Davis' application.

"Mindef could not find any valid grounds to approve the application for deferment by Mr Harvey Davis for his son. There is no commitment to serve Singapore or our national interests," said Dr Ng.

DEBATE

"To grant deferment to Mr Ben Davis to pursue his personal development and professional career would be unfair to the many others who have served their NS dutifully as required, and not at a time of their choosing.

"The application by Mr Harvey Davis for his son's deferment is to further his son's professional career first and to the longest extent possible. Singapore and her interests, including his son's NS obligations, are secondary considerations, if at all."

Davis' case sparked a debate last year over allowing sports talent to reach their full potential and the need to maintain Singapore's security.

Only a handful of people have met the criteria for long-term deferment from NS, including swimmer Joseph Schooling, who won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal, in the 100m butterfly, at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. - REUTERS

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