Yesterday in Parliament, Benjamin Davis application for national service deferment was rejected by the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) because the teenager would be playing for English Premier League club Fulham FC as an English national, not as a Singapore citizen.
Furthermore, his father, Harvey Davis had “consistently refused to indicate” when his son would return to do NS if deferred. He added that this was because there were “a lot of variables all dependent on his development and progression”.
Also, according to Mindef, Benjamin’s father had also expressed that his son would still sign the contract with Fulham and would consider renouncing his Singapore citizenship if a deferment was not granted.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said that Only three sportsmen have been granted NS deferments in the past 15 years: swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen, and sailor Maximilian Soh, adding that Mindef will only defer individuals “very selectively” if their deferment serves Singapore’s interests first and foremost.
This is in order to preserve equity for all national servicemen. For the three athletes granted deferment, “clear expectations” were laid out. “Neither was deferment open-ended nor unconditional. They will have to return to serve NS, and if they do not meet the standards agreed upon, deferment will be curtailed,” said Ng.
Dr Ng also said that there had been “no indication, commitment or plans” as to how Benjamin signing for Fulham would help raise football standards in Singapore.