The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) said in a statement yesterday that Ben Davis has defaulted on National Service (NS).
Davis, who was supposed to enlist for NS on 14 Feb, is an 18-year-old Singaporean who was born in Phuket to an English father and a Thai mother.
Last July, Davis signed professional terms with English Premier League club Fulham and became the first Singaporean to sign with a top-tier English club.
Davis subsequently moved to London to join Fulham’s Academy and registered as an English national. The Singapore authorities, however, have demanded that Davis must complete his NS obligations even if it jeopardises his Fulham contract.
Last year, MINDEF rejected Davis’ application for NS deferment, citing that he did not “meet the criteria for long-term deferment from full-time NS.”
The Defence Minister later said in Parliament that “deferment…cannot be for that individual, no matter how talented, to pursue his own interests or career, even if it vicariously brings credit or fame to Singapore.”
Revealing that Davis did not enlist for NS on his official enlistment date, MINDEF said in a statement yesterday: “Mr Benjamin Davis is a 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.”
In a separate statement, the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said that it is “extremely disappointed” with Davis’ “irresponsible” default of his NS obligations. A spokesman told the press:
“The FAS is extremely disappointed with Mr Benjamin Davis’ default of his NS obligations. It is thoroughly irresponsible on the part of Mr Davis, and also reneges on his (and his father’s) assurance to the FAS that Mr Davis would discharge his NS commitments and play for the Singapore national team.
“Mr Davis had lived in Singapore for many years, and has benefited from the resources used to educate and train him as a footballer over this period of time. He was invited to play for the Singapore national team, and he agreed. The FAS had supported Benjamin Davis’ application to defer NS on this basis.
“While the matter will now be dealt with by Mindef, the FAS wishes to state categorically that we do not condone such conduct nor did it ever arise in our discussions with Mr Davis that he would seek to avoid his liability.”