Singapore PR jailed 10 weeks for defaulting on national service for over 5 years

Amir Hussain
Senior Reporter
Thirumal Pavithran, 25, pleaded guilty to four charges of remaining outside Singapore without an exit permit under the Enlistment Act. (Photo: Facebook/Pavithran Thirumal)

SINGAPORE — A 25-year-old NSman who defaulted on his national service obligations for more than five years so that he could complete his university education in India was on Thursday (20 June) sentenced to 10 weeks’ jail.

Thirumal Pavithran, a Singapore permanent resident from India, pleaded guilty at the State Courts to four charges of remaining outside Singapore without a valid exit permit between 1 November 2010 and 7 July 2016.

The total period he defaulted on his NS obligations under the Enlistment Act is five years, 7 months and 16 days.

He completed serving his full-time NS last month.

Continued secondary education in India

Thirumal was born in India and became a Singapore permanent resident shortly after he turned three years old. He attended primary and secondary school in Singapore from 2001 to 2009.

In May 2009, when he was 15, Thirumal left Singapore to continue his secondary education in India.

When Thirumal turned 16-and-a-half in November 2010, and was subjected to the Enlistment Act, he was overseas but did not have a valid exit permit to remain outside Singapore.

In July 2011, when he was 17, a letter was mailed to his registered Singapore address informing him to register for NS. But he failed to do so.

Another letter was mailed to Thirumal in September 2011 asking him to report to the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) for a medical screening. But he failed to comply with the order.

Later that month, Thirumal visited Singapore for a week before going back to India. In November, a police gazette was issued against him for failing to register for NS.

Arrested after spot check while on holiday

The next year, in October 2012, Thirumal again visited Singapore for one week. During his stay, he was stopped for a spot check by policemen and arrested on 23 October. The next day, he registered for NS and underwent a medical examination at CPMB.

On 2 January 2013, an Enlistment Notice was mailed to Thirumal asking him to report to the Basic Military Training Centre in two months’ time for enlistment into full-time NS.

But on the day of his supposed enlistment, Thirumal called CMPB to ask for a deferment of NS. He was told to provide supporting documentation.

Shortly after, Thirumal told CMPB via email that he was studying in India and would complete his studies in May 2013, after which he would start his university education in June.

Remained in India to complete university studies

CMPB replied to inform Thirumal that he was only eligible for deferment until May 2013 for him to complete his secondary education in India, and that he was not eligible for deferment for his university studies.

CMPB also told Thirumal via email that he would be enlisted in June 2013, and that an Enlistment Notice would be sent to him. But he didn’t respond to the email or the Enlistment Notice.

A fresh police gazette was issued against him in June 2013.

On 25 December 2015, Thirumal visited Singapore for about a week again.

He finally returned to Singapore in July 2016, when he was 22, just after he completed his university education. He reported to CMPB three days after his return.

Thirumal completed his full-time NS last month.

The maximum punishment for each of his four charges of remaining outside Singapore without an exit permit is a fine of up to $10,000 along with a jail term of up to three years.

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