Speaking in parliament, he said that that was one of the 3 reasons why MINDEF rejected the 17-year-old’s request for deferment.
Ben Davis had left Singapore in 2017 to join Fulham FC’s youth academy and signed a 2-year professional contract with them this year despite knowing that he would be called up for NS.
Dr Ng said that the second reason for the rejection was the Davis family’s refusal to indicate when Ben would return to Singapore to serve NS if he was granted the deferment.
He added that Ben Davis father, Harvey Davis, indicated that Ben would still sign the contract with Fulham regardless even if deferment was not granted, and that he would consider the option of Ben renouncing his citizenship to pursue his career.
Said Dr Ng:
“To grant deferment to Mr Ben Davis to pursue his personal development and professional career would be unfair to the many others who have served their NS dutifully as required, and not at a time of their choosing.”
He added that there had been “no indication, commitment or plans” as to how Benjamin signing for Fulham would help raise football standards in Singapore, if deferred.
Dr Ng said that the Singapore’s 3 sportsmen – swimmers Joseph Schooling and Quah Zheng Wen, and sailor Maximilian Soh – were granted deferment for them to train and compete at the Olympics.
He said in all three cases, clear expectations were laid out when deferment was given and that their deferment would be cancelled if they did not meet the standards agreed upon.
“To preserve equity for all national servicemen, MINDEF will only defer individuals very selectively if their deferment serves Singapore’s interest first and foremost, never their own.”