SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) revealed on Wednesday (Jul 18) that Harvey Davis, the father of Fulham footballer Benjamin Davis, "would not commit to a date" on when his son intended to return and serve his national service (NS) during the deferment application process.
In a reply to media queries, MINDEF added that Benjamin went on to sign the contract despite the rejection for deferment and noted that the senior Davis has publicly stated that he would encourage his son to renounce his citizenship in order to pursue his career.
"(Benjamin's) actions are meant to further his own professional career, not national interest. As his father openly admitted, he is looking out for his son's future, not Singapore's," said MINDEF.
"They have no intention of returning to fulfill their son's NS duties, especially if (Benjamin) is given a full professional contract after two years of his senior contract.
"To allow deferment for this type of appeal, would severely undermine the ethos and sacrifice of Singaporeans who have all put aside their personal interests to complete their NS duties."
MINDEF said that while Benjamin's achievement in securing a senior contract with the Premier League club was recognised, other talented sportsmen including footballers "completed their NS dutifully first" before pursuing their professional careers.
It said that there are schemes in place during full-time NS to enable sportsmen to continue training and improve their skills.
"We also provide additional training opportunities in the lead-up to major games such as the Southeast Asian and Olympic Games where our sportsmen represent Singapore and do us proud," MINDEF added.
The revelation from MINDEF comes a day after the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) said it "strongly supported" Benjamin's deferment request, saying that it believes the 17-year-old's case merits serious consideration.
FAS had said that "it believes that a balance can be struck between player development and national service obligations in this unique case".
"We also believe that any deferment cannot be open-ended, and that any deferment has to be matched with an assurance to see through Benjamin's national service obligations and a commitment to use this opportunity to enhance the development of national football," it added.
The ministry had also sent a note to NS commanders on Tuesday, explaining its decision to reject Davis' request.
The note, which was seen by Channel NewsAsia, said Davis signing of a contract with Fulham is a "personal pursuit" which is "no different from the personal pursuits by other pre-enlistees like university studies or working in other professional fields."
On Monday, Fulham told Channel NewsAsia that it would "not be making any official comment on this subject".