The government has granted swimmer Joseph Schooling's request to defer his National Service obligation, enabling the 18-year-old to focus on training until after the 2016 Olympics.
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Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen gave his reply in parliament on Monday regarding NS deferment for top male athletes.
Here is the written reply, in full:
Mr David Ong Kim Huat: To ask the Minister for Defence if the Ministry will consider providing a more flexible approach to National Service enlistment for our top male athletes so that they can continue to excel at their sport whilst at their prime.
Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen: Deferment from full time National Service (NS) may be granted in exceptional circumstances to individual sportsmen, who are assessed to be potential medal winners at international competitions like the Olympic Games and bring national pride for the country.
Individuals will have to show why deferment is necessary for them to train full-time and compete successfully at international competitions. Each case will be assessed individually in consultation with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).
Earlier this year, MINDEF received an application from the parents of Joseph Schooling to defer his full-time NS, as he is due for enlistment in 2014.
Included in the appeal, were detailed plans which outlined his training schedule and targets with the goal to represent Singapore and compete successfully in the swimming competitions of the 2016 Olympic Games. MCCY supported the appeal for deferment as they assessed that based on his previous achievements in international competitions, Mr Schooling had the potential to do well in the next Olympic Games.
As this appeal satisfied all the conditions for deferment of exceptional sportsman, the Armed Forces Council has decided to grant deferment to Mr Schooling for full time NS till 31 Aug 2016 in order for him to train and do well in the 2016 Olympic Games. Mr Schooling will be enlisted for full-time NS once his deferment ends. We wish Mr Schooling every success and hopes that he will do well in the next Olympic Games.