A young man who evaded national service (NS) for more than six years to study in Australia was sentenced to 1.5 months’ jail on Thursday (Feb 11), after the prosecution appealed against his initial sentence of a S$4,500 fine.
Brian Joseph Chow, 25, who has attention deficit disorder, left Singapore to study in a school that catered to his condition in 2005 at the age of 15.
Three years later, he was called up for NS. Chow was offered a deferment to pursue his foundation studies. But in 2009, he applied unsuccessfully to defer NS for university.
After graduating from the University of Western Australia in 2013, Chow returned to Singapore and completed his NS last year. He is currently undergoing a cadet pilot programme at ST Aerospace Academy.
Delivering his oral judgment on Thursday, Justice Chan Seng Oon allowed the prosecution’s appeal and said he would have given Chow three months' jail "if not for the fact that his performance during NS was outstanding".
However, he rejected the defence’s request to defer sentencing, saying that enough time had been given.
In the appeal hearing last October, Second Solicitor-General Kwek Mean Luck argued for the High Court to set a sentencing benchmark of four months’ jail for young men who were able to serve NS but had dodged conscription for more than two years.
Read the original TODAY report here.
A New Zealand teenager born in Singapore has been threatened with jail time and hefty fines unless he returns to the Asian nation to complete two years of national service in the army.
Brandon Smith,19, moved to Dunedin with his family when he was eight years old and holds dual citizenship with New Zealand and Singapore.
But Singaporean authorities are demanding he report for a pre-service medical or face two years in jail, or a S$10,000 (NZ$10,780) fine.
Brandon said spending two years doing national service would be difficult and pointless.
"I don't see the point of it, really. It's sort of a waste of time to go there and just come back anyway," he said.
Brandon said he does not speak Chinese, and as a New Zealand citizen he would be treated as an outsider.
After an initial three-month training period in which service personnel are housed and fed, they are then expected to find their own accommodation.
Although they receive a small monthly payment, it would not be enough to cover rent and food, and he would not want to impose on family, he said.
Under Singaporean law, Brandon cannot relinquish his citizenship until he is 21 years old.
An application to defer his national service until the age of 21 has been declined on numerous occasions, despite the Singaporean authorities granting his younger brother Kristen a deferment.
His father, Shane Smith, said after a long battle with bureaucrats in Singapore they have run out of options.
"Obviously for Brandon, it's not what we want. If he doesn't go back to Singapore to serve his NS, then he can never enter Singapore because he runs the risk of being arrested," said Shane.
Shane, a New Zealand-born Kiwi, served in the New Zealand Air Force and married Brandon's mother Cindy , who was born in Singapore but is a permanent resident in New Zealand.
Shane has been corresponding with Singaporean MPs and bureaucrats for years in a desperate bid to help his son avoid conscription.
"Absolutely no one would accommodate us. It was always the same answer; 'we regret to inform you that Brandon has to serve National Service'," he said.
Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said in September last year she appealed to Minister for Foreign Affairs Murray McCully in a letter to help the family.
"We have a 19-year-old who has left school with his life in front of him, he considers himself a New Zealand citizen and has no identification with Singapore and yet he is expected to do a national service," she said.
"I think it's a really good case for New Zealand to be sticking up for its citizens."
In a statement released on Saturday, McCully apologised for the late response to Curran's letter and said he had received it shortly before he took time off work to have major surgery to remove a tumour.
He said that he intended to take the matter up.
"While the Singapore Government is responsible for determining their own citizenship policies, I have considerable sympathy for the situation this family has found themselves in," he said.
Teenager Brandon Smith, who holds dual citizenship with New Zealand and Singapore, has to fulfil his National Service (NS) obligations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Wednesday (Mar 2).
"Singapore adheres to the fundamental principles of universality and equity for NS. All Singaporeans are expected to fulfil our NS obligations as citizens. It would not be fair to allow citizens to avoid NS just because they reside overseas," said the MFA in a written reply to MP David Ong's parliamentary question.
"Even if he were to subsequently apply for renunciation of his citizenship after he attains the age of majority, he would still remain liable for any breaches of the Enlistment Act. He is advised to return to Singapore as soon as possible to resolve the matter."
Mr Smith, 19, faces a two-year jail term and a $10,000 fine if he does not comply.
The MFA said it also informed the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the point of contact from Singapore's Ministry of Defence, after its New Zealand counterpart made a request.
A report by Stuff.co.nz said Mr Smith moved to Dunedin with his family when he was eight years old. He reportedly said he does not see the point of returning to fulfil his NS obligations and, as he does not speak Chinese, would be treated as an outsider. He has a New Zealand-born father and Singapore-born mother, the report noted.