Principles that underpin NS mustn't be compromised

Whether 17-year-old Ben Davis should be granted national service deferment to pursue what is deemed by some to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a football career with English Premier League side Fulham has raised different perspectives among Singaporeans.

In explaining its decision to turn down the family's request, the Ministry of Defence laid out its principles clearly (Eng Hen explains why request from Ben Davis was rejected; Aug 7).

I am disappointed to hear Ben is playing as an English national for the football club despite his Singaporean citizenship. The family was also non-committal about a possible return date, and made it dependent on whether his contract would be renewed.

Deferring an individual on these grounds would be very unfair to those who have had to forego similar distinguished opportunities in order to dutifully serve NS.

If NS is necessary to ensure Singapore's continued peace and prosperity, then the principles of national security, universality and equity that underpin NS must not be compromised.

My family and I had the opportunity to watch the National Day Parade preview last weekend.

More than a parade and a show, it was a strong symbol of what the past and present generations of servicemen continue to defend - Singapore's freedom and sovereignty.

A strict adherence to the said principles is why we can commit to NS, and why NS has continued to be the backbone of our defence since the early years of our independence. It is one of the reasons why we have been able to celebrate Singapore's National Day year after year, for the last 53 years.

Neo Say Wei