UPDATE: With comments from Football Association of Singapore.
Teen footballer Ben Davis is now a national service (NS) defaulter as he has failed to report for NS as required, said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) on Monday (18 February).
A Mindef spokesperson said that Davis, who turns 18 this year, 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 three years,” said the statement.
Signed with Fulham
Davis, who has signed a senior contract with English Premier League side Fulham Football Club, is the first Singaporean to be taken on professionally by a top-flight English football club.
Last July, Mindef rejected his request to defer his NS enlistment date as he “does not meet the criteria for long-term deferment from full-time NS”. Davis’ appeal against the decision was also subsequently rejected.
At the time, his father Harvey told Yahoo News Singapore that Davis might switch nationalities if his appeal was not granted.
At a Parliamentary sitting in August, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told the House that there are no “valid grounds” to approve Ben Davis’s deferment request as there was “no commitment to serve Singapore or our national interests”.
Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to Harvey Davis for comment.
FAS ‘extremely disappointed’ with Davis
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said in a media statement on Monday night that it is “extremely disappointed” with Davis’ default of his NS obligations.
It said, “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.”