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Singaporean EPL footballer has committed NS-related offences, applications to renounce citizenship rejected: Mindef

SINGAPORE — Singaporean footballer Harry Birtwistle, who plays in the English Premier League, has committed offences under the Enlistment Act when he failed to register for National Service (NS) as required and is staying overseas without a valid exit permit, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said.

Singaporean EPL footballer has committed NS-related offences, applications to renounce citizenship rejected: Mindef

Mr Harry Birtwistle (pictured) signed a three-year deal with English Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers on Oct 27, 2021.

SINGAPORE — Singaporean footballer Harry Birtwistle, who plays in the English Premier League, has committed offences under the Enlistment Act when he failed to register for National Service (NS) as required and is staying overseas without a valid exit permit, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said.

Responding to media queries on Friday (Oct 29), Mindef also said that it has rejected his parents’ applications to renounce his citizenship.

“His applications were rejected (because) renunciation should not be used as a means to evade NS duties,” Mindef added.

Mr Birtwistle on Wednesday made a three-year deal with Wolverhampton Wanderers, becoming the first Singapore-born player to sign professional terms for an English Premier League club.

The 17-year-old defender moved from Singapore to England in 2017 when he signed a scholarship with the club.

He had told national daily The Straits Times that his dream is to be a Premier League footballer, but that dream may now be scuppered with these latest developments.

Mindef said that all male Singaporeans are required to serve NS when they are aged 18 or older and Mr Birtwistle is a Singapore citizen carrying a Singapore passport.

“In his family's correspondences with the Ministry of Defence, they had stated that Mr Birtwistle will not be registering for NS,” Mindef said.

Mr Birtwistle’s predicament is similar to what happened with Mr Ben Davies, another young Singaporean footballer who had signed a contract to play with the Fulham Football Club.

His application to defer his NS enlistment in 2018 was rejected by Mindef, who said that he did not “meet the criteria for long-term deferment from full-time NS".

His father Harvey Davis had lobbied for a special exemption for his son, arguing that his success in Europe would be an inspiration for Singapore.

However, the ministry said that the young Davis' actions are "meant to further his own professional career, not national interest".

Related topics

Harry Birtwistle National Service NS Ben Davis Mindef English Premier League

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