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Public divided on issue of NS deferment for Ben Davis

The case of 17-year-old footballer Ben Davis, who signed a two-year contract with Fulham football club in the English Premier League, and is seeking a deferment of National Service (NS) with the Defence Ministry (Mindef), has been a hot debate this week. The online community is divided on the footballer's situation, with those who criticise Mindef for being rigid and those who back the ministry's stance. Some are upset by how lightly the Davis family takes a Singapore citizenship, while others said that the teen should leave the country to pursue his dream to be a professional footballer.

Public divided on issue of NS deferment for Ben Davis

The case of 17-year-old footballer Ben Davis, who signed a two-year contract with Fulham football club in the English Premier League, and is seeking a deferment of National Service (NS) with the Defence Ministry (Mindef), has divided the online community.

The case of 17-year-old footballer Ben Davis, who signed a two-year contract with Fulham football club in the English Premier League, and is seeking a deferment of National Service (NS) with the Defence Ministry (Mindef), has been a hot debate this week. The online community is divided on the footballer's situation, with those who criticise Mindef for being rigid and those who back the ministry's stance. Some are upset by how lightly the Davis family takes a Singapore citizenship, while others said that the teen should leave the country to pursue his dream to be a professional footballer.

 

Mindef's reply (makes it sound like) Schooling's swimming pursuit is not a personal one? Both are personal pursuits, but with similar potential to benefit the nation and the sporting community at large. The Football Association of Singapore needs to impress on Mindef what an exceptional case this is. NASRI NASIR

 

No Mindef, you don't speak for me. My boy will serve NS one day, but Ben should have his chance before time passes him by, for a footballer's career is all too short. LISA HONG-PING KONG

 

Based on the criteria, "opportunity to win medals for Singapore in international competitions like Olympic Games", (Mindef) is already closing the door to all team sports... I may be wrong but I don't think there are any team sports that Singapore has a chance at the highest level... Therefore, may have to look at flexibility in terms of "highest level" and not on "winning medals". MOHAMAD SYAHID BIN ARIF

 

When we import talent, we (complain). When we have talent, we kill it off over a refusal for deferment. You think every football player wannabe can just be that good? What is the percentage of people here who can play that well that we need to worry about too many people asking for deferment? LUANN SEE

 

Just give up the citizenship. If the Government is not being supportive here, no point being a citizen here. You have much better prospects at Fulham. YUFAI IVAN

 

How does Mindef know that Ben will not come back after the two-year deferment? Ben's brother already did his part. The Davis family could've easily taken up (residence in England) and avoided this circus. It is clear that the Davis family is serious about Ben's NS obligations JUAN JUAN

 

The floodgates will be opened when people with different interests will come forth and ask for deferment. Oh, I received a Hollywood contract and I need deferment so I can be famous and represent Singapore. Oh, I am a genius so I need deferment so that I can invent something amazing and make Singapore proud.

Different people have different notions about what is important enough to make Singapore proud. For Singaporeans who care nothing about football, they will not think this is fair. Why should drama, acting, science or anything else be less important than football? This is what Mindef's stand is all about.

NS is an equaliser whether it is meant to be in the first place. Granting deferment for something like this is just elitism in disguise.

Either they take NS away from everyone or stop granting deferment. It's a slippery slope… NS is a national policy that cannot be structured based on only what certain groups of people think. It has to take into consideration the entire nation. ANNIE SCARLETT GARDEN

 

Tell your kids, stop dreaming, you have to finish your NS first. OLIVER ONG WL

 

Pack your bag and leave since you don't love this country. ZHENG SHUJUAN

 

He isn't asking for something as simple as a two-year deferment. If it's indeterminate when he is going to come back, then it makes no sense to allow him to defer now. Mindef is right to reject his application. MICHAEL LEE

 

If they had no intentions for him to serve NS, the Davis family should have just turned down his Singapore citizenship in 2009… now that a Singapore citizenship is not useful anymore, he's just throwing it away. MUHD RIDHUAN

If my son were to forsake his nationality for own self gains instead of for the nation's gains as a whole, I would have raised him wrongly to be a selfish brat… To allow someone to defer to join a football club... where is it going to end? We do have boys that are into international gaming league, can they defer, too? POLLY LOW

 

The reason for deferment should be considered in terms of how it disrupts the chance of the athlete being successful in pursuing their career. For a professional online gamer, there is no professional scene which requires their development during NS years, so serving and then going on to play e-sports professionally is still viable. Professional football isn't.

But as for the rest of the sports, I would argue why not, if the potential of the athlete is to achieve world class standards and their NS years are critical to their development. This is why we're all so passionate. It's a chance for us as a country to really think about how we value sports. You can even define now what world class means.

I'd argue I would allow deferment for a grand slam tennis player or a potential NBA player, though I am not a fan of either. Remember how proud Taiwanese were when Jeremy Lin played in NBA? Or how Yao Ming flew China's flag high?...

This speaks of us as a nation and what we value. Are we only caring for our athletes only because they give us a return on investment (ROI) of an Olympic medal? Do we only define success as winning, or by supporting our people to achieve the very best when they show the potential? EDWIN YEO

 

Schooling gets to defer his NS, because it's of national interest. However, swimming is an individual sport. Football is a team sport. If there are 20 Ben Davises who are chosen to have trials or play in European clubs, Singapore Lions can be a formidable team in Asian Cup, SEA games or Suzuki Cup… Of course, l disagree with the method adopted by the father who threatened to quit (Singapore) if his son didn't get to go to England. ANDREW LIM

 

Take this issue up to Parliament and debate. There needs to be some flexibility here. There needs to be a review of policies. What is wrong with serving NS when he is 30 years old or older? JOEL EE

 

I'd suggest for Ben Davis to publicly announce when he will come back and serve. If he can do that,I'm sure (the government ministries) can reconsider his appeal… Ben's father is definitely riding on the wave of World Cup high and media attention to pressure the authorities into approving his son's case. I'm sure he is doing out of love for his son, but that's just not right. PAUL TOH

 

Please do not ever think lightly of "personal interests". Almost every tech giant is the result of someone pursuing "personal interests".

With our present level of economic development, education level, national ability to pay for a regular military force, we should greatly reduce our conscription to the level of a standby military. Otherwise, we are not just sacrificing personal pursuits, but the national economic benefits of these personal pursuits. Our conscript military at its present form was started at a different time for a different time. LEE KEE SENG

 

*Comments were first posted on TODAY's Facebook page and are edited for language and clarity.

 

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