There is this strange assumption in Singapore that scholars earn money and pride for the country, and sportsmen don't. I can tell. Whereas in the United Kingdom a single prodigy seems to be worth bending the rules to get him a passport (Shreyas Royal), it appears that our government doesn't want to give the same respect offered to bespectacled scholars to sportsmen - case in point: Ben Davis.
There is a national hype every time the World Cup comes around. We rally around other countries, cheer on for teams, and of course, make humiliating ironic anti-gambling advertisements that predict the winner of the cup. In stark contrast, the government here seems hard set on devaluing local sportsmen - Davis was rejected a deferment despite being the first Singaporean to make it into an English League, as was Joseph Schooling (mind, he trained his years in the US of all places,) and sports deferments for NS are extremely uncommon.
Why does the government hate seeing achievers make their country proud? You already know that most Singaporeans have no intention to actually fight and die for this little country, that's why we are politically neutral and statistically, one of the most friendly nations in the world. There are many people who can make Singapore proud in factors other than academia - like Davis! Imagine the news! 'Singaporean teen shows up at English Leagues' - 'Shaking up Britain' - Davis would have been our representative in a country where there are almost no Asian sportsmen. That is something we could have been proud of. Instead, he'll be serving away his days, humiliated, in a military that has shown itself to devalue life in general. What a waste!
Now, instead of showing the world 'what Singapore can be' and that 'we can achieve, we can achieve', we've proven to the world that our government is horribly biased against the sports and that we are a lot more like our neighbours have historically accused us of being - universal cowardly elitists. Instead of telling the world that we are capable of putting ourselves on the map, we humiliated ourselves in front of the world. Let Ben Davis go to Fulham, we've have been the first. Now, we can only imagine what might have been.