Thai Citizen Who Served In Thai Army Didn’t Want Future Work-Related Trouble

Ekawit Tangtrakarn, a Thai male, admitted yesterday (28 Aug) in court that he defaulted on his National Service (NS) commitments.

But unlike most NS defaulters who would do anything to avoid getting caught, Mr Tangtrakarn returned to Singapore voluntarily and pleaded guilty to the charges against him.

His reason? Mr Tangtrakarn claimed that he wanted to avoid any trouble during future work-related travels here in Singapore.

Born and raised in Thailand

Mr Tangtrakarn has a Singaporean mother and Thai father. Born in Thailand in 1993, he was registered as a Singaporean citizen when he was 1-year-old.

The now 24-year-old traveled several times to Singapore using his Thai passport — mostly on short trips to visit his grandmother.

Apart from that, he spent most of his life in Thailand and even spent 3 years serving in the Royal Thai Army.

Trouble with National Service

In Aug 2006, Ekawit’s mother, known as Madam Lim, sent an email to the Central Manpower Base (CMPB) on behalf of her son, requesting for NS deferment until he turned 21.

2 months later, CMPB mailed a letter to her Bangkok address, informing her that the request had been denied.

In 2007, Madam Lim flew to Singapore to apply for her son’s exit permit. However, she couldn’t afford the $75,000 bond required to secure the permit.

Mr Tangtrakarn’s name was entered into the Police Gazette – a ‘stop and detain list’ on police computers – in Feb 2008.

6 years later, CMPB informed Madam Lim via email that Ekawait was classified as an NS defaulter for remaining outside Singapore without an exit permit.

Lost his Singapore citizenship

Ekawit also failed to take the Oath of Renunciation, Allegiance and Loyalty within 12 months of turning 21.

He was stripped of his Singapore citizenship in Oct 15 and was no longer liable to serve National Service.

In July 2016, after completing his degree, Mr Tangtrakarn returned to Singapore to face his NS-related charges.

First of its kind

Mr Tangtrakarn’s case is currently the first of its kind.

No other NS defaulter who has lost their citizenship or PR, has returned to face charges when they’re no longer liable for NS.

According to his lawyer, Ekawait identifies as a Thai citizen and had not taken advantage of being a Singaporean. His lawyer also pleaded for a fine instead of a jail sentence, which he deemed “manifestly excessive”.

Up to 9 weeks’ jail

However, the prosecutor was adamant on a jail sentence, and asked for a 9-week jail sentence.

This is inclusive of a 5-week discount given due to Mr Tangtrakarn’s voluntary surrender and plea of guilt.

The 24-year-old is expected to be sentenced next month.

Ben Davis he is not

Singapore has seen a recent spate of cases involving citizens of Thai descent and NS, including footballer Ben Davis’ NS deferment woes and Mr Xu who’s now stateless due to admin problems with ICA during NS.

So we’re glad Mr Tangtrakarn’s voluntary surrender will resolve his case soon enough.

Do you think he should receive a harsher sentence or leniency for his case? Sound out in the comments below.

Featured image from The Singapore Army and Yelp.