Ben Davis, together with his father Harvey, signing a two-year scholarship with English side Fulham. (Photo: Fulham FC)

Ben will return to do NS, “unfortunate” that MINDEF thinks otherwise: Harvey Davis

The father of Singaporean footballer Benjamin Davis, who has signed a two-year contract with English Premier League club Fulham, stated that his son will be carrying out his National Service (NS) duties, contrary to the Ministry of Defence (Mindef)’s assumption regarding the issue.

Yesterday, Harvey Davis said that he found it “unfortunate that MINDEF has an impression that Ben would not return to serve his NS”.

The senior Davis also expressed his wish to publicly announce that they “have been working through FAS [Football Association of Singapore], Sport Singapore, and MCCY [Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth] over Ben’s deferment”.

Mr Davis also said that they “have not met anyone from MINDEF”, and that he has no knowledge of “what was presented by MCCY to MINDEF” regarding his son’s request for deferment.

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, the father had said that while renunciation was an option, it “is “NOT” Ben’s intention at all, as he would like to represent Singapore.”

Mr Davis added that he has also explicitly stated that  “[…] 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.” – Harvey Davis

He also explained his reason for hesitating to provide a specific date of return for Benjamin to MINDEF during the application for deferment.

Mr Davis said that there is “a possibility that Ben could be offered a new 2 year contract in 2019 after the 1st year of his pro-contract, just like he has been offered a new 2-year pro-contract halfway through his 2-year scholarship contract”.

He also said that there is also the possibility that Benjamin “could be sent out on loan or sold to another club”.

“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,” Mr Davis elaborated.

He also urged MINDEF to “inform” him and Benjamin of the “new information” or facts that the Ministry requires in order to facilitate their efforts “with FAS to help provide the information”.

Mr Davis concluded his statement by reiterating that Benjamin will “return to Singapore and serve his National Service if he doesn’t get an extension of the current 2 year-contract” as previously stated in his email to MCCY on 15 May 2018.

Davis’ signing with Fulham “meant to further his own professional career, not national interest”, has “no intention” to fulfill NS duties: MINDEF

In an official reply to media queries dated 18 July, MINDEF declared that granting the exemption to him “would severely undermine the ethos and sacrifice of Singaporeans who have all put aside their personal interests to complete their NS duties”, as the midfielder has “no intention” to fulfil his NS obligations.

The Ministry said that while they “recognise Mr. Benjamin Davis’ achievement in securing a senior contract with Fulham Football Club (FC)”, they have expressed their belief that Davis’ signing with Fulham is a personal pursuit, and not one that explicitly represents Singapore.

The Ministry also stated that during the deferment application process, Mr Davis’ father “would not commit to a date” and “expressed that he would put Mr Davis’ professional career first” when asked about Davis’ asked about his son’s date of return with regards to carrying out his NS duties.

MINDEF added that Mr Davis “went on to sign the contract despite the rejection for deferment” and that he has publicly declared that he would encourage his son to “renounce his Singapore citizenship in order to pursue his career”.

Davis’ application for NS deferment rejected due to failure to “meet the criteria for long-term deferment”

In a statement on 15 July, MINDEF announced that Davis’ application for NS deferment was not approved, as he “does not meet the criteria for long-term deferment from full-time NS”.

“As all male Singaporeans liable for full-time NS put aside personal pursuits to dutifully enlist and serve their NS, it would not be fair to approve applications for deferment for individuals to pursue their own careers and development.

“Very few applications have been approved over the years and based on criteria which are made known to the public. 

In sports, deferments are granted only to those who represent Singapore in international competitions like the Olympic Games and are potential medal winners for Singapore.

In the last 15 years, only three have met this criteria,” MINDEF explained.

The decision was made in consultation with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, according to MINDEF.

Davis and his parents were informed regarding the decision on 11 Jun.

“Mr Davis was also notified that he is due for enlistment and must dutifully serve NS along with others in his cohort,” said MINDEF.