EPL signee Ben Davis’ NS deferment rejected by MINDEF

From ‘MINDEF rejects Fulham signee Ben Davis’ application for NS deferment’,  15 July 2018, article by Nigel Chin, CNA

Singaporean footballer Benjamin Davis’ application to defer his national service (NS) enlistment was rejected by the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF).

In a statement on Sunday (Jul 15), MINDEF confirmed that Davis’ application was not approved as he “does not meet the criteria for long-term deferment from Full-time NS”.

“As all male Singaporeans liable for Full-time NS put aside personal pursuits to dutifully enlist and serve their NS, it would not be fair to approve applications for deferment for individuals to pursue their own careers and development.

“Very few applications have been approved over the years and based on criteria which are made known to the public. In sports, deferments are granted only to those who represent Singapore in international competitions like the Olympic Games and are potential medal winners for Singapore. In the last 15 years, only three have met this criteria,” MINDEF said.

Amid calls by sports fans for Singapore to emulate the success of small nations like World Cup Finals-qualifying Iceland, MINDEF has decided that letting one Joseph Schooling do whatever the fuck he wants is more than enough, hence putting another local talent’s dreams in cold storage because of NS obligations. Is it any wonder that our FIFA ranking (163) is even lower than our already sucky World Press Freedom position (151)?

Swimmers tend to get their lucky break, and if you think that this is because of the Olympics prestige, then how does one explain the two months’ deferment granted to Stanley Aw to participate as a gamer in the WORLD CYBER GAMES? Can I ask for deferment to train for the Asia-Pacific Yo-yo championships? Do I have to become a fugitive and NS defaulter for life if I happen to be a piano prodigy?

But note the other criterion, that you need to be deemed a ‘potential medal winner’ before you stand a chance at deferment. Personal growth and passion is useless unless you show results, a state-endorsed materialism that undermines everything that the Government has preached about people taking risks and living their dreams, failure in PSLE notwithstanding. So you want to be a Dancer? In the words of my former RSM,  ‘Fuck you understand’.

One wonders if Ben would get a repreive if it weren’t FULHAM but a more prestigious, Peter Lim owned megaclub. Or if his father had been, say, a former Minister of Defence. Until the powers that be put away that perennial periscope stuck to its eyeballs and review its deferment selection process from a lens wider than its ironclad arse, we can only watch as our homegrown talent fade away into the green, learning how to stick CB leaves into their helmets or stabbing people with bayonets instead of excelling in a once-in-a-lifetime arena of champions. Fast forward some years later and you’ll see them featured in a op-ed, with a trophy in the bag, telling some disgusted journo, with tears in their eyes, about how they had to abandon their country of birth and childhood friends, just to be where they are now.

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Singapore is nothing without naturalised players

From ‘Malaysian football captain takes a swipe at Lions’, 26 July 2011, article in asiaone.com, and ‘Good grief how did he get the goal scorer wrong’, 26 July 2011, ST Forum

NATIONAL captain Safiq Rahim struck a boot on Singapore by insisting that they are nothing without their five naturalised players.

“I think they are very reliant on their naturalised players. Singapore are not much of a team without them,” said Safiq before boarding the flight to Kuala Lumpur at the Changi Airport yesterday.

Singapore’s naturalised players – Aleksandar Duric (formerly from Bosnia), Daniel Bennett (England), Mustafic Fahrudin (Serbia), Shi Jiayi and Qiu Li (from China) played an instrumental role in their 5-3 victory over Malaysia in the World Cup second round, first leg qualifier at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday.

Laddies in red

Contrary to what I initially thought, ‘naturalised’ isn’t a modern euphemism for ‘immigrant’. It was used way back in the early 20th century to describe anyone foreign-born but making a living in his foster country (‘Naturalisation, 8 May 1916, ST).  ‘Immigrant’ has an air of decrepitude and desperation about it, often associated with images of refugees in bumboats escaping a war-torn homeland or strange, shaggy looking people waiting and looking lost in the customs line. ‘Foreign talent’ is a touchy term as well, and usually stereotyped as expats who are out to steal our jobs or women, while ‘foreign import’ sounds like the players were shipped here in a UPS delivery box and come with an instruction manual with warranty included.

So, naturalised seems just about right, though a foreigner who has been ‘naturalised’ doesn’t necessary mean that being Singaporean is ‘second nature’ to him. It’s curious how our football players are called ‘naturalised’ players, but our all -female table tennis champion team are called ‘foreign imports’. There could be a few reasons for this, not least because  there are 11 players in a football team, most of whom are still native Singaporeans, but at most 2 in a table tennis doubles team, both former China nationals.  Or it could be our collective love of the tradition that is Singapore football which immunises our foreign players to any kind of xenophobia, using a term that implies that the likes of Qiu Li and Shi Jiayi can easily trade insults  and Hokkien swear words in an impromptu Singlish rap battle.

Then again, what’s new about the Malaysian captain’s observation? We’ve had ex PRCs win silver and gold medals for us in regional Games, so having five of them in bid to help us lift a trophy yet again (though unlikely) is old news. We’ve come to accept that we have to rely on them on whatever we do because our government doesn’t have faith in its own citizens to accomplish big dreams or help the country get to where it is today, be it at work, sport or entertainment. Criticising an opponent for fielding expensive star players is fair enough, but this isn’t half as mean as locals thrashing commentators for making simple errors like the writer below.

(Michael Ang): Watching video highlights of last Saturday’s Singapore-Malaysia World Cup qualifying match, I was flabbergasted by the lack of professionalism in one crucial part of the match commentary.

One of the two MediaCorp Channel 5 commentators inexplicably referred to the scorer of Singapore’s fourth goal, Shi Jiayi, who wears the No. 7 jersey, as Qiu Li (wearing No. 11 and scorer of Singapore’s second goal).

How difficult can it be to distinguish between the only two Chinese Singaporeans in the national team? Did the commentator not see the jersey number of the goal-scorer? Even after Qiu had run to Shi to congratulate him, and the two were walking side by side with their faces and jersey numbers in full view, the same commentator continued waxing lyrical about the wrong Chinese Singaporean (Qiu) as the scorer.

What was more surprising was the commentator’s self-description later, telling viewers that he had been involved with Singapore football for more than 20 years.

Qiu Li and Jiayi: FFwd to 3.20

Qiu Li and Shi Jiayi. Just looking at that sentence makes my tongue weary. I’ve no beef with football fans behaving badly, but to complain about a commentator’s (My guess is this would be Jaime Reeves) mistake instead of celebrating a goal is as hooligan as using the face of a drunkard on the stadium steps to wipe your muddy shoes.  No names were printed on the back of any of the Singapore players’ jerseys, or perhaps these two Chinese men really look alike from afar. Interestingly, Reeves’ colleague was ‘speechless’ after the former proclaimed ‘Qiu Li’s second of the night’, probably hesitating if he should make the correction of not (which he didn’t). Maybe it’s his fault too for not nudging to the error.

But anyway, playing soccer for decades doesn’t guarantee that you can tell players apart every single time you’re up in the commentary booth. The complainant should lighten up, just enjoy the game instead of fixating on stats like how often the ball hit someone’s head or all the names of players, the referee, the linesmen, the head coaches, assistant coaches, the physiotherapists or the kid by the billboard whose job is to throw balls back into play. And put some names on those damn jerseys already. At least the commentator didn’t just call them ‘Chinamen’ (See below, 21 May 1986)

Postscript: A Singapore milestone has been achieved with the Lions beating Malaysia on aggregate (6-4) and going into the third round of the World Cup qualifiers. Mediacorp has also issued an apology over the gaffe. Surely all is forgiven by now.

Off with their heads

From Drop toothless lions 12 March 2010 St Forum online

(Abhorrent behaviour of certain players in the squad)  The late boarding of the team bus because two players overslept, the smoking in the dressing room at half-time, the refusal to train seriously, and the complaints about the tough training.

Did the Lions miss the cut to make it to the finals as a result of certain irresponsible players? If so, let the axe fall and heads roll.

Ed: A sad case of from Goal 2010 to gone zero. More on local football here.  Check out Singapore’s rankings

Rwanda higher ranked than Singapore

Not enough local Chinese footballers

From What ails Singapore football (Jan 26 2010) ST Forum Online

The team is sorely lacking in Chinese Singaporean players. Without 70 per cent of the population, a majority of the talent pool is missing. However, Chinese Singaporeans will drop out of football in favour of studies or jobs with better prospects.

 

The 2010 dream is over

Not an entirely unreasonable request from a football fan, since our mostly non-Chinese squad’s failure to perform is nothing short of epic and we have nothing to lose by making the team slightly more egalitarian in our renewal process. Perhaps we could start this racial integration in sports by starting the Chinese on the awkward sport of sepak takraw first.