Mindef should be careful not to spread falsehoods against Davis family

In a statement on Wednesday, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) accused the family of 17-year old footballer Ben Davis of having “no intention of returning to fulfill their son’s NS duties.”

Mindef went further and charged: “(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.”

Mindef’s accusation is baffling, when considered against the correspondences Ben’s family has had with various government departments (where they reiterated that Ben would serve NS), and Ben’s own remarks at different stages of his young footballing career so far.

The ministry’s statement was refuted by Ben’s father, Harvey Davis, later that evening.

Mr Davis said it was untrue that Ben does not intend to return to serve his military obligations. In fact, Mr Davis revealed, the family has always reiterated this in letters to Sport SG and the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY).

“This point was reiterated in an email response which was sent to MCCY on 15 May,” Mr Davis said. “In that email, I had said very clearly that while renunciation was an option, it is “NOT” Ben’s intention at all as he would like to represent Singapore.”

Mr Davis added: “I had also made it clear that for “clarity, and for the record, I agree 100% that Ben should do his National Service. My older boy has already completed his NS and both Ben and his younger brother Jai will also complete their NS.”

Mr Davis already has one son who has done his NS, and has pledged – publicly – that his other two will do the same.

For Mindef to therefore make such a serious accusation against the young man and his family would require concrete evidence, which Mindef has not provided.

To simply conclude from what Mr Davis’ had said – that “renunciation was an option” – as evidence that there was intent is, really, to grasp at straws.

What Mr Davis said must be seen in context.

Here we have a situation which not many people in Singapore would face – a father whose son has been offered (and he has accepted) a professional contract with a Premier League club in England.

To any parent here, especially football-loving ones, nothing is more thrilling.

This presents to the son a unique and indeed precious opportunity to perhaps play with top English players, an opportunity which most can only dream of, not just those in Singapore but anywhere in the world.

Any parent in such a position would be elated, not only that their son is so talented, but the windows which will open up for their child. And there is nothing wrong in feeling so.

At the same time, the parents are also faced with a dilemma, one which they had hoped (and perhaps thought) could be resolved with honest discussion with the authorities.

In such a situation, having to decide between foregoing this golden opportunity and becoming a deserter, all options must naturally be considered. And that was what Mr Davis did, when he said that renunciation (of citizenship) would have to be considered.

But instead of understanding how difficult it is for the Davis family to make this decision, Mindef has chosen to denigrate them, and with nothing more than a presumptuous allegation.

Is Ben so ungrateful to Singapore, a country he has called home since 5, that he would so readily up and leave?

Let’s take a look.

Ben, who became a Singapore citizen in 2009, has represented his country at the Under-13, U-14, and U-16 levels. He has played for Singapore in the U-18s at the AFF U-18 Championships in 2016, and the AFC U-19 Championships qualifiers a month later.

When Ben was offered and signed the deal with Fulham last year, this was what his father said to the media: “It’s fantastic news for Singapore football … It shows that Singapore can produce footballers who can play at the highest level in the UK.”

It was Singapore that he was happy for, besides naturally being thrilled for his boy.

And when Ben himself was called up to the senior national team earlier this year, he too was elated that he could finally play for Singapore.

“I was pleasantly surprised to receive the call up and this moment means a lot to me as I have always wanted to play for the national team,” he said.

“My training at Fulham has been enriching and I am learning all the time. I will be making the most of this opportunity to learn from coach Sundram and the more experienced players whom I will be joining.”

This is hardly someone who would up and leave in a spur of the moment.

Also, as Mr Davis said, the family has kept Mindef and MCCY informed every step of the way on the situation with his son.

Couple this with Mr Davis’ unequivocal affirmation, in his letters and now in his public statements, that Ben would do his National Service, it is hard for any reasonable person to agree with Mindef’s unsubstantiated allegations.

As one person online asked: Can Mindef read minds?

Another said: “Ben Davis nor his father at any point expressed anything about not fulfilling NS duties – it is all conjecture from Mindef and is an unfair statement and add to that the unequal access to the media – this is just bullying.

“Mindef should just restate its stand without the character assassination.”

The Government has been concerned about fake news recently, and had even convened a Select Committee to look into the matter. It is thus necessary that government ministries be mindful that their public statements do not propagate such fake news, or falsehoods.

Or unsubstantiated allegations which are then disseminated by the mass media.

From the evidence presented, the benefit of the doubt, if indeed any is needed at all, must be given to Ben and his family.

They are put in a difficult position by a government policy which, incidentally, most would agree was well-intentioned: to ensure that everyone is treated fairly when it comes to national service.

Nonetheless, leadership demands that Mindef show some empathy, understanding and maturity in how it responds to the family’s concerns and predicament.

The last thing the Ministry of Defence, which is supposed to care for our sons when they are in service, should be doing is to belittle and make baseless allegations against them, they who will give of themselves – and their lives, if necessary – to serve the nation.

Mindef should do better.

 

Andrew Loh

* The author blogs at https://andrewlohhp.wordpress.com/

 

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19 Responses to “Mindef should be careful not to spread falsehoods against Davis family”

  • 12 years NSF deferment:

    one cano 12 years.

    another cannot 2 years.

    WHY?

    clan membership. one is clan elder. who saw slapping dana but kept quiet. so clan loyalty proven. so son can 12 years.

    non clan membership. not related to clan. no value to clan. so clan loyalty doesn’t exist. so son cannot 2 years.

    This is the 1 pap law 2 pap interpretations.

    our message to Ben is this, as soon as 2 years are up, leave, give up the pink ic and pink passport. because the 13 years full cycle NSR not worth it.

    we are 4 in total. 2 cpts, 1 lta and 1 ssg. all completed full time NSF and completed full cycle NSR. 15 years ago we thought Singapore was 1st world great. today 2018 we say without hesitation Singapore is rotten stinking sinking.

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  • Lets be fair:

    Quite difficult. Many here always parrot Ang Mo Da Kee, if Mindef make exceptions, many of the boh liao anti ang mos commentators here will again claim the above.

    Anyway football not important as claim by pro prc fan when bad boy ridicule China dismay failure to secure entry to world cup matches.

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  • opposition dude:

    Makes Mindef look arrogant and silly. Since they have said on record that Ben has no intention to serve his NS then his parents should go ahead and renounce his citizenship. If so, it will be tough on the boy since he can never return to Singapore to see his family.

    Funny how Mindef doesn’t say a word on new citizens not even having to do reservist eh?

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  • Tremendous:

    This is easy. Only need to produce the letters in full and the responses received. Most of us are familiar enough with English to assess what each party means in layman terms.

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  • Perspective:

    It’s too late to renounce his SG citizenship without having to face the consequence of violating the Enlistment Act. He is past 11 years old, and if he was issued a pink IC or red Passport and has enjoyed the benefits of the post-primary education system, he has to enlist. Local-born Singaporeans who evade enlistment live in exile all their live, separated from friends and families, and as fugitive of the law. They are immediately arrested on return to the soil unless they assume new identities using foreign passports. Others who refused to bear arms for religious reasons have also spent time in detention barracks. Recently, two siblings were charged for failure to report for Enlistment. With the swimmers, MINDEF has made one too many exceptions, and they are not about to do it again. Soccer is not even high on our national agenda. How could it be of national interest even if their are many soccer lovers out there? It may be better for him to serve NS and defer his soccer career for two years since he still has plenty of years ahead of him. To sum up, NS is disruptive to families, careers and talent development.

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  • Bapak:

    With such people in Mindef, would you trust your son’s life in their hand? We have an irresponsible, immature and chicken-brain government.

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  • 100%dont trust this gov:

    This paps n co are the biggest perpetrators of fake news in sg..
    Tell us one thing but do another all the time.
    Sad to say tho, sgs have damn short memories!

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  • Perspective:

    Lets be fair:
    Quite difficult. Many here always parrot Ang Mo Da Kee, if Mindef make exceptions, many of the boh liao anti ang mos commentators here will again claim the above.

    Anyway football not important as claim by pro prc fan when bad boy ridicule China dismay failure to secure entry to world cup matches.

    It’s not just ang-mohs. How many other foreigners have been given citizenship without having to enlist for NS even when they fall within the enlistment age? If they apply for citizenship, why can’t they be enlisted and complete their NS before receiving their citizenship papers? If they are not enlisted, why? Is it because the govt does not trust them in the military? Or because that would turn them away from taking on citizenship? So, our boys end up having to sacrifice 2 years of their lives and career, while foreigners reap the benefits?

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  • LIONS:

    We take it as NORM if a young upstart Aristocrap is allowed to further his *personal interest* by pursuing higher education in IVY LEAGUE overseas sponsored NO LESS with taxpayer money by PAP gahmen to secure future *membership*?

    But,but,we condemn an EXCEPTION like Ben Davis to pursue HIGHER *EDUCATION* in a SPORT that our own institutions here are LACKING in DEVELOPMENT?

    WHY DESTROY EXCEPTIONAL TALENT IN FIELDS OTHER THAN ACAFEMIC EXCELLENCE?
    IN FACT,THE GOVT SHUD ALSO OFFER BEN A SPECIAL SCHOLARDHIP INSTEAF?

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  • HarderTruths:

    Regardless of the poor boy himself – I take exception to his white father behaving with expected white man superiority to try to force the issue to get his cake and eat it.

    The father knows that football may be over in a few years and still wants his son to return to $G to earn a good living if he cannot make it in the real football world. Furthermore if the son is successful he will not return.

    If the father is so sure of his son then just take the football star away and never come back. Why try to threaten MINDEF if his son is as good as he claims?

    MINDEF must be fair to all $G locals who have to give up their dreams too and serve reservist until 40 or 50. This boy has a choice – go or stay. Cannot be both ways.

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  • Lets be fair:

    After all is said , how many want to go HLP to support B D ? Zero tio boh ?
    Quite sure turn out rate will be lack lustre.

    Dont waste time . Football not important as claimed by prc fan.
    People more into LBGQT.

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  • Mindef operates like PAP, they smear you and make you look bad.

    Forget it la, why so hard up for Singapore citizenship?

    Just go play soccer and renounce this toilet paper.

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  • Sesame Street:

    To be fair,Ben Davis senior did say he don’t know when his son will be back to serve NS,it’ll depends on further contract after Fulham.
    In my opinion,that is why MINDEF tu lan.
    Anyway,NS nowadays meaningless liao

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  • clown pap double standard:

    Perspective: It’s not just ang-mohs. How many other foreigners have been given citizenship without having to enlist for NS even when they fall within the enlistment age? If they apply for citizenship, why can’t they be enlisted and complete their NS before receiving their citizenship papers? If they are not enlisted, why? Is it because the govt does not trust them in the military? Or because that would turn them away from taking on citizenship? So, our boys end up having to sacrifice 2 years of their lives and career, while foreigners reap the benefits?

    very well said, bro.

    foreigners like cow boon hwan, the karakiri L, and puthucheary, the fake, both from malay land, run road to clown pap for S$m but not a single day NSF NSR. WTF.

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  • a PG:

    I remember garment likes Singaporeans achieving in activities, like sports, education, etc, no. 1 in the world, e.g. no 1 international airport, no. 1 of student achieving math & science quiz in the world, first SG to climb Mt Everest, etc. endless list. And now we have Ben as an SG who is going to achieve the first SG to sign for a top level football league in EPL. They pour cold water on him instead of encouraging him. When someone want to achieve something, we always give encouraging words like “GO FOR IT”. Sigh !!

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  • I'm Halimah also jiak liao bee:

    Why are all thoese Foreign trash invited in by the PAPIGS made to do NS before giving them their citizenship ???
    What the fiack is Mindef saying, that those Trash you invited in gets a better deal than our local born kids ???

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  • rukidding:

    Patrick Tan has it all to his “best of advantage”….doing his pet research alongside his so called NS liability .

    White horse son definitely,….better than Davis son !

    One cuntry,…Two system indeed !

    Even an Indian can become a Malay ????

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  • Equality Was Stealthily Remove:

    12 years of defermnet for Fat Pig Tony’ s son is ok. Special
    rules created just for his son and many WHITE Horse shits too.

    People, vote for change and fiack all these shitty, vicious
    sOB of the MIW thugs.

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  • DOOM:

    WHAT ?

    MINDEF GOING TO WAR ???

    WITH WHO ?

    CHINA, INDIA, PH, MY,

    HA HA HA

    JUST AWOL LAH !!!!

    I ALSO AWOL LEH….

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