Jail for NS defaulter who remained outside S'pore without valid exit permit for over 4 years

SINGAPORE - A man defaulted on his national service in Singapore for more than four years.

Tsai Yi-Hsuan, 25, who unlawfully remained outside Singapore without a valid exit permit, was on Tuesday (Aug 30) sentenced to nine weeks' jail after he pleaded guilty to three charges under the Enlistment Act.

The court heard that he was a Taiwanese when his Singaporean mother registered him as a Singapore citizen in 1998, a year after he was born.

Defence lawyers Adrian Wee, Rachel Soh and Lynette Chang stated in court documents that Tsai was even liable for service in the Taiwan military, but his service there was waived in 2015 on medical grounds.

But he still had to undergo NS in Singapore but defaulted on his duties here for a total of four years, seven months and 18 days.

He is no longer Taiwanese and enlisted into full-time NS with the Singapore Armed Forces in April 2020.

His lawyers said he became an operationally ready NSman on April 2 this year.

The court heard that as a teenager, Tsai, who was born in Taiwan and has a Taiwanese father, knew he had to return to Singapore to serve his NS.

He received his registration notice and came to Singapore on May 30, 2014, to register for NS and collect his Singapore identity card.

He reported to the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) four days later and was reminded to apply for a valid exit permit to remain outside Singapore.

Despite this, he left Singapore on June 5, 2014, without obtaining one.

Two weeks later, Tsai's mother sent CMPB an e-mail to submit documents for his deferment from NS for his studies overseas.

It replied on June 20, 2014, asking for further documentation, but did not receive a response from her.

Tsai returned to Singapore on Sept 19 that year to attend his grandfather's funeral and left for Taiwan five days later.

He remained outside Singapore without a valid exit permit and later failed to report for his medical screening here in November that year.

Tsai returned to Singapore on April 2, 2018, to perform some rites at his grandmother's tomb and left for Taiwan eight days later.

He remained outside Singapore yet again without a valid exit permit before returning here on Feb 7, 2019.

He reported to the CMPB the next day and finally enlisted on April 3, 2020.

In mitigation, his lawyers said that Tsai was raised in Taiwan and completed his formal education there, and that he currently holds a degree in chemical and material engineering.

They added: "Our client made the difficult decision of leaving his family and Taiwan, the country he grew up in. Our client now lives in Singapore without the benefit of family support."

He has been living alone in a rented room here for the past two years, they said.

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