Footballer Ben Davis' NS deferment appeal likely to be rejected if no new facts presented: Heng Chee How

Footballer Ben Davis, who earned a professional contract just one year into the two-year scholarship with Fulham, has appealed against the rejection of his application for deferment.
Footballer Ben Davis, who earned a professional contract just one year into the two-year scholarship with Fulham, has appealed against the rejection of his application for deferment.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - In the absence of new facts, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) will likely reject an appeal by teenage footballer Ben Davis to defer his national service after he signed a professional deal with English Premier League (EPL) club Fulham.

Mindef had previously rejected Ben's application for deferment.

Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How said on Tuesday (July 17) on the sidelines of a visit to Tuas Naval Base: "We have conveyed the decision with regard to the earlier application.

"All applications, all appeals have to be based on facts and we'll have to evaluate the facts. And if the facts are no different, then our position will be consistent."

Mr Heng said that for a country like Singapore, the Government wants to value every Singaporean and develop the country's talent.

"But at the same time, we must also remember that the purpose for all this development is that we have a country and all of us actually have a duty to one another and this country," he said.

"So we have got to make a good balance between our duty to this country and also our very genuine urge to enable everybody to reach their highest potential."

 
 
 

Mr Heng reiterated that Mindef's criteria for deferments have always been transparent and this was also made clear to the Davis family.

"On the subject of deferment, the criteria that Mindef uses to assess applications have been transparent and have been consistent over time so there's no movement of the goal posts on the part of Mindef or the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces)," he said.

"This is known to applicants. Certainly in this particular case, the family was informed of the considerations beforehand."

Ben, 17, earned a professional contract just one year into the two-year scholarship with Fulham, who were promoted into the EPL at the end of the last season.

He is the first Singaporean to sign a professional contract with an EPL club.