Man Defaults NS For Nearly 8 Years To Study & Work In Canada, Gets 16 Weeks’ Jail

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Man Defaults NS To Complete Studies & Work In Canada

For almost eight years, a man defaulted his National Service (NS) obligations so he could complete his university studies and work in Canada.

On Thursday (2 Feb) 26-year-old Ryan Foong Xue Fei was sentenced to 16 weeks’ jail for his offence.

According to Channel NewsAsia (CNA), he is the 21st NS defaulter sentenced to jail since the High Court set the sentencing framework in 2017.

Man defaults NS and remains overseas without valid exit permit

Foong was a Singaporean citizen by birth, but later migrated to Canada when he was 11, reports CNA.

In 2009, he managed to apply for his first exit permit and renewed it in 2011. However, the permit expired in Oct 2012.

Afterwards, the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) sent letters to his Singapore addresses regarding his NS obligations.

However, these letters were returned, suggesting that he longer stayed at the addresses.

CMPB followed up by sending Foong an email in Jan 2013, reminding him to report by later that month for his NS registration, which he disregarded.

Foong was reported aware of the consequences of remaining overseas without a valid exit permit. He also used his Canadian passport instead of his Singapore passport to travel around.

Returned to Singapore in 2020

In Feb 2020, Foong sent an email to CMPB regarding the renewal of his passport. This was so he could return to Singapore to complete his NS.

In response, CMPB told him to return immediately to fulfil his NS responsibilities and clear his defaulting charges.

Foong returned to Singapore in Nov 2020 and was arrested at the checkpoints.

Source: Google Maps

Following his arrest, Foong admitted in an interview that he did not want to serve his NS obligations in Singapore earlier as he wanted to complete his university education and work in Canada first.

He reportedly finished his university education in May 2019 and worked in Canada subsequently.

In total, Foong stayed outside Singapore without a valid exit permit for seven years, 11 months and 17 days.

Did well in NS after enlisting

In court, the prosecution sought a minimum of 18 weeks’ jail for Foong. The punishment for NS defaulters needs to be sufficiently severe to deter potential offenders from evading or postponing their NS at their own convenience, they added.

On the other hand, his lawyer asked for a reduced sentence, citing how the Covid-19 pandemic had affected travel.

Foong had reached out to CMPB personally to surrender, pleading guilty instead of wasting time, he added.

“He has, in a sense, redeemed himself,” his lawyer said, noting that he “has done very well in his NS after he was enlisted”.

Addressing the judge directly, Foong said he contacted CMPB in Nov 2019, but they did not give him a “firm answer” on the issue.

For defaulting NS, he could have been jailed for up to three years, fined S$10,000, or both.

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