Footballer Ben Davis, who could have been Singapore's most successful import to the English League, has instead opted to represent Thailand in his bludgeoning footballing career. And as widely expected, Ben also reiterated that he will not disrupt two years off his footballing journey to return to Singapore to complete his NS obligations.
Ben, who has played about 2 minutes of professional football with English side Fulham so far, was called up for the Thai national U23 side to take part in the SEA Games scheduled for November this year. Ben was born in Thailand to his British father and Singaporean Mum, but has lived most of his growing up life in Singapore, going through the education system and the football academies in Singapore. However, when an opportunity arose for him to sign professional contract with Fulham, Ben was caught in Singapore's strict NS law, which states that an 18 year old male must put aside all his academic or professional pursuit in order to spend 2 years in National Service.
Ben and his father fought hard to get an exemption, by stating that if he did not sign the pro forms with Fulham, the same opportunity will not come by again, and he would lose 2 important years of his footballing education. He lost that battle, and Ben was supposed to report for NS duties in March this year. Ben of course, chose Fulham instead of NS, as how many boys would choose NS ahead of pro football teams anyway? Ben is now considered in default of his NS obligations, an offence that could see him heavily fined or imprisoned should he re-enter the country.
Now that Ben has decided to represent Thailand in the international scene, he is not likely ever to return to Singapore to face any charges. Singapore might have lost one footballing talent, while Ben can never step foot in Singapore again. The winner in all this saga? Minister Ng Eng Hen, who must have looked smug as he stood his ground, denying a young man an opportunity to make smart choices in his life.