Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen explains Ben Davis deferment rejection

Kelvin Leong Kelvin Leong

Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen explained the reasons for Mindef’s rejection of footballer Benjamin Davis’ deferment request.

The Ministry of Defence (Mindef) rejected 17-year-old footballer Benjamin Davis’ request for deferment in July, as the youngster signed a two-year professional contract with English Premier League club Fulham FC.

News of Davis’ deferment rejection was followed up by his father, Mr Harvey Davis stating that an appeal will be filed.

In his response to questions in Parliament on Monday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen listed out three reasons why Davis’ deferment was not approved.

The first reason was that Davis is playing for Fulham as an English national and not a Singapore citizen.

“MINDEF (Ministry of Defence) is not privy to the contract signed between them, but we assume this published information is correct and that the father must have his reasons for doing so,” Dr Ng said.

The second reason given was that Davis’ father, Mr Harvey Davis has failed to indicate when his son would return to Singapore to take up his National Service commitments.

“If Mr Ben Davis will not give up his senior contract, which provides for an allowance of a few hundred pounds a week, to serve his NS, it is even more unlikely that he will return to serve NS if he subsequently gets offered a contract worth many times more,” Dr Ng added.

“And if he is not given a further contract with Fulham FC, the father has said that he may find other clubs which his son can be loaned to.”

The final reason was how Mr Davis made known his son’s intention to proceed to sign a professional contract even if deferment was not granted, which he subsequently went on to do.

“The reason given by the father was that his son would only return to fulfil his NS commitment if he is unsuccessful in his professional career,” Dr Ng added.

“In fact, Mr Harvey Davis went further after MINDEF rejected the application – that he would consider the option for his son to renounce his Singapore citizenship in order to pursue his career.”

Dr Ng also encouraged Davis to follow the footsteps of other youth footballers like Ikhsan Fandi, Irfan Fandi and Saifullah Akbar, who all managed to pursue their sporting dreams while fulfilling their NS commitments to the country.

“In fact, Saifullah Akbar and Ikhsan Fandi asked to be enlisted early, presumably so that they could complete their NS early to pursue their professional careers,” Dr Ng added.

“Irfan and Ikhsan are now playing for the Young Lions in the Singapore Premier League and representing Singapore in regional football competitions,” Dr Ng said.

“I understand Irfan has gone for trials with European clubs, including an upcoming trial with Sporting Braga, and Saifullah and Ikhsan are slated to follow suit at CD Tenerife and Braga, respectively.

“This is a good sign for football in Singapore and talented footballers, Ben Davis included, can emulate the example of Irfan, Saifullah and Ikhsan to complete both their NS duties as required and also advance their professional football careers.”