A Thai national who was registered as a Singaporean when he was one year old, but has never lived in Singapore, was fined $6,000 yesterday for defaulting on his national service obligations here.
Ekawit Tangtrakarn, 24, an application engineer, committed the enlistment offence before he ceased being a Singapore citizen on his 22nd birthday.
Before handing down the sentence, District Judge John Ng said the Thai Embassy had provided an official letter to confirm that Ekawit is a Thai national and has served his military service in Thailand.
"Thailand is and has always been his home," the judge added.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Mansoor Amir had told the court that according to the Defence Ministry, this was the first time a defaulter had returned to Singapore to face the charge after he was no longer eligible to serve NS, owing to being neither a Singaporean nor a permanent resident.
Defence lawyer S. Radakrishnan, speaking to the media yesterday on behalf of the family, said Ekawit's mother Genevieve Lim, a Singaporean, was very thankful to the judge for the fairness shown in sentencing.
The family, which has been in Singapore for about five months, was relieved that the ordeal was over and will return to Bangkok as soon as Ekawit gets his passport back.
It had been impounded while the case was pending.
Before handing down the sentence, District Judge John Ng said the Thai Embassy had provided an official letter to confirm that Ekawit is a Thai national and has served his military service in Thailand. "Thailand is and has always been his home," the judge added.
Mr Radakrishnan also said Ekawit's maternal grandmother lives in Singapore, and his past visits here were to see her.
On Aug 28, Ekawit pleaded guilty to an offence under the Enlistment Act after he remained outside Singapore without a valid exit permit for 5½ years.
DPP Mansoor said he had surrendered voluntarily, and one reason for his return was to avoid any trouble should he need to travel to Singapore.
Madam Lim, whose husband is a Thai, gave birth to Ekawit in Thailand in 1993, and he was registered as a Singapore citizen a year later.
She later had discussions with Singapore's Central Manpower Base (CMPB) on her son's NS obligations.
On Aug 7, 2006, she e-mailed CMPB to ask for an NS deferment for Ekawit until he turned 21. In October the same year, the CMPB wrote to her in Bangkok to say it was unable to grant her request.
A year later, it sent her a letter stating that a boy aged between 13 and 161/2 years must apply for an exit permit if he intends to travel or remain outside Singapore for three months or longer. If he intends to remain outside Singapore for two years or longer, his parents have to furnish a bond in the form of a bank guarantee for a minimum sum of $75,000 or 50 per cent of their combined annual gross income for the preceding year, whichever is higher.
Madam Lim replied on Oct 22, 2007, that she did not have enough money for the bond.
CMPB continued communicating with her after this.
In November 2014, it sent her an e-mail informing her that her son had committed offences under the Enlistment Act.
Ekawit was no longer a Singapore citizen from Oct 17, 2015, as he had failed to take the Oath of Renunciation, Allegiance and Loyalty within 12 months of turning 21.