Ben Davis has become the first Singaporean to play for a top-tier English Football Club (FC), with his first team debut with Fulham FC last week, despite being a wanted man back home for defaulting on his mandatory National Service (NS) obligations to achieve his dreams.
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 became the first Singaporean to sign with an English Premier League FC, when he signed professional terms with Fulham FC.
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 week, Davis made his professional debut with Fulham FC against Southampton in the Carabao Cup match. The midfielder later wrote on Instagram that he is unfazed by his team’s defeat to Southampton and is grateful to make his debut with Fulham: “Grateful to make my professional debut tonight despite the unlucky result #unfazed”
While Davis is making strides in his career, he is a wanted man in Singapore and faces three years’ imprisonment and/or a maximum S$10,000 fine for offences committed under Singapore’s Enlistment Act, if he returns to Singapore.
Last year, Singapore’s Ministry of Defence (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 this February: “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.
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