Athletes back Ben Davis for deferment 

Two of Singapore’s most prominent swimmers – Joscelin Yeo and Joseph Schooling – have thrown their weight behind Singaporean footballer Ben Davis.

In a Facebook and Instagram post, Joscelin Yeo asked Ben to “keep setting high goals” for himself and to “go after your dreams”.

She said: “I fully support National Service (NS). Would Joseph Schooling have won a historic Olympic gold medal if he hadn’t gotten a deferment from NS? When a Singaporean is on the brink of an international breakthrough on the sporting scene, we should support them. When they have made a breakthrough (confirm plus chop as Singaporeans would say), even more so should we support them. Ben, keep setting high goals for yourself, stay focused, and go after your dreams!”

In addition, Olympic gold medalist Joseph Schooling told the Straits Times: “My advice for him would be to follow his heart, do what he needs to do.”

Former national footballer R Sasikumar suggested that Ben “lose the shirt”, meaning he gives up his Singapore national jersey for another.

The Ben Davis issue has divided commenters over the last week, with a substantial number of people getting involved in the debate.

On 18 July, Harvey Davis, Ben’s father issued a statement to counter a statement issued by Mindef, a statement which some felt were tantamount to character assassination of Davis.

The statement issued by Mindef accused Harvey of having no intention to return to serve National Service.

In his counter, Harvey said that “it is unfortunate that MINDEF has an impression that Ben would not return to serve his NS.”

He said: “In my discussions with Sport SG and MCCY, I was clear that Ben should do his NS but the question is just when. This point was reiterated in an email response which was sent to MCCY on 15 May 2018. In that email, I had said very clearly that while renunciation was an option, it “is “NOT” Ben’s intention at all as he would like to represent Singapore.”

He added: “I had also made it clear that for “clarity, and for the record, I agree 100% that Ben should do his National Service. My older boy has already completed his NS and both Ben and his younger brother Jai will also complete their NS. The only question is timing for Ben as we would like to give him the best opportunity to play at the highest possible professional level in the UK and Europe. If Ben does not get a renewed contract or new contract by May 2020 then he should return to serve his NS.”

He also added that in the same email which was sent to the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, it was stated that we “are unable to commit to a date for his return should he be playing professional football in the UK or Europe” as it is also a possibility that Ben could be offered a new 2 year contract in 2019 after the first year of his pro-contract.

Davis added that “there are a lot of variables all dependent on his development and progression, and anyone who understands how professional football and sports works will understand this.”

He also confirmed that he had given a date which his son would return to serve.

“As I’ve stated in my email to MCCY on 15 May 2018, Ben will return to Singapore and serve his National Service if he doesn’t get an extension of the current 2 year-contract.”

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