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MINDEF: Benjamin Davis defaulted on NS obligations, committed offence under Enlistment Act

Local footballer Benjamin Davis who was earlier in the news over his bid to defer his National Service has been said to have defaulted on his National Service (NS) obligations

This is revealed by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) on Monday in response to queries by state media, Channel NewsAsia.

MINDEF said, “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. Mr Davis has committed offences under the Enlistment Act, and is liable upon conviction to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 3 years.”

Davis, is the first Singaporean footballer to sign a professional contract with a top-tier English Club, however, MINDEF said it is unable to grant him a deferment.

During the parliamentary session on 6 August last year, Minister for Defence (MINDEF) Ng Eng Hen addressed some of these issue, elaborating on the reasons why MINDEF is firm in their rejection of Ben Davis’ deferment application.

Mr Ng stressed that a deferment or disruption is only granted for the sake of national, not personal, interest. Quoting from a judgement by the Chief Justice of the Appellate High Court, Mr Ng said that it is the duty of every young Singaporean man to serve when he is called up without regard to personal convenience and considerations. In fact, it is a sacrifice, a personal sacrifice that is crucial to the nation’s survival.

Mr Ng pointed out that in the case of Joseph Schooling and Quah Zhen Wen, deferments were granted upon strict conditions that these young men would come back to fulfil that NS duties and further deferment will only be granted if they are able to meet certain benchmarks.

In the case of Ben Davis, his father Harvey Davis said that he is unable to commit to a date for Ben to return and complete his NS should he start playing professionally in UK or Europe, or if he is offered a longer contract, sent out on loan, or sold to another club. Mr Harvey also went on to indicate that Ben will (and in fact has already) sign a contract with Fulham FC even without the deferment and will only return to complete his NS if he is unsuccessful in his football career.

After MINDEF rejected the application, Mr Harvey followed up to say that he would consider his son renouncing his Singaporean citizenship to be able to pursue his career. Based on that, since Ben Davis’ application was solely to pursue a personal interest in professional football, MINDEF feels justified in their stand.

Mr Ng said, “MINDEF could not find any grounds to approve the application of deferment by Mr Harvey Davis for his son. There is no commitment to serve SG or national interest. To grant deferment to Mr Ben Davis to pursue his personal development and professional career would be unfair to many others who have served in NS dutifully as required and not at the time of their choosing.”

If one is convicted of offences under the Enlistment Act, one can be jailed for up to three years and fined up to $10,000 for each charge.