Supporting Ben Davis’s decision to renounce citizenship, Singapore’s Olympic gold medallist Joseph Schooling said the Singapore’s first English Premier League club player should pursue his dream and “do what he needs to do”:
“It’s definitely been a difficult situation for him. My advice to him would be to follow his dreams, follow his heart and do what he needs to do. I come from a different sport, I was in a different situation. I can’t advise him on what to do. Obviously, he should get together with his parents, decide what’s the best plan for himself and go from there.”
23-year-old Joseph Schooling was granted long-term deferment from National Service, and he is currently studying a diploma at Texas University in the US. The swimmer won the Olympics gold in 2016, despite having no support from the Singapore government. In an earlier media interview, Joseph Schooling refused to train in Singapore’s self-proclaimed “first world training facilities” and opted to train in the United States.
Ben Davis’s father, Harvey Davis, has earlier said that his son would be forced to renounce his Singapore citizenship if there is no deferment. The news of citizenship renouncement was met with widespread support from the Singaporean public, who have been disillusioned with the purpose of serving conscription in the metropolitan city with 45% of its population being foreigners.
The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) was slammed by the public for its inflexibility and many lamented that the sorry state of soccer in Singapore today is a result of robbing young Singaporeans males of their most productive two years. Attempting to recover its damaged reputation, MINDEF yesterday (Jul 18) in response launched a personal attack against the Davis family accusing them of having no intention of fulfilling the conscription obligations.
Harvey Davis was apparently furious over MINDEF’s baseless accusation and said that he had made it clear that “Ben should do his NS but the question is just a matter of when”. MINDEF has since been silenced over Harvey Davis’s response.