The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) has released a statement casting doubt on the willingness of Singaporean teen footballer Ben Davis' parents to ensure he will return to Singapore to fulfil his National Service obligations.
In a four-paragraph statement shared with Mothership on Wednesday afternoon, Mindef said its representatives had asked Davis' father when Davis intended to return to serve NS, but Davis' father "would not commit to a date and expressed that he would put (Ben)'s professional career first".
It goes on to state that the young Davis' actions "are meant to further his own professional career, not national interest":
"They have no intention of returning to fulfil their son’s NS duties, especially if Mr Davis is given a full professional contract after the two years of his senior contract."
Here's the statement from Mindef in full:
1. The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) recognises Mr. Benjamin Davis’ achievement in securing a senior contract with Fulham Football Club (FC).
2. However, deferment from National Service (NS) is granted for exceptional sportsmen to represent our national interest and not their own career development. When granted, deferment is given for a defined period after which these sportsmen must return to fulfil their NS duties. Mr Davis’ application does not meet the deferment criteria and was therefore turned down. When asked during the deferment application process when Mr Davis intended to return and serve NS, Mr Davis’ father would not commit to a date and expressed that he would put Mr Davis’ professional career first. Mr Davis went on to sign the contract despite the rejection for deferment and his father has publicly stated that he would encourage Mr Davis to renounce his Singapore citizenship in order to pursue his career.
3. Mr Davis’ actions are meant to further his own professional career, not national interest. As his father openly admitted, he is looking out for his son’s future, not Singapore’s. They have no intention of returning to fulfil their son’s NS duties, especially if Mr Davis is given a full professional contract after the two years of his senior contract. To allow deferment for this type of appeal, would severely undermine the ethos and sacrifice of Singaporeans who have all put aside their personal interests to complete their NS duties.
4. Many talented sportsmen, including footballers, have completed their NS dutifully first before pursuing their professional careers. Mindef has in place schemes during full-time NS to enable them to continue training to retain and improve their skills. We also provide additional training opportunities in the lead-up to major games such as the Southeast Asian and Olympic Games where our sportsmen represent Singapore and do us proud.
Top photo via Football Association of Singapore