SINGAPORE, Feb 10 — A former Malaysian national swimmer who holds permanent residency in Singapore was given eight weeks’ jail yesterday for defaulting on National Service (NS), television news network CNA reported.
According to the report on its portal, Lim Ching Hwang pleaded guilty to two charges under the Enlistment Act, with another charge taken into consideration.
The 24-year-old athlete reportedly came to Singapore in 2010 and studied at the Singapore Sports School until 2013.
Lim was given Singapore permanent residency status under the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme in March 2014 and became subject to the requirements of the Enlistment Act, said the report.
He received a registration notice in May 2014 asking him to register for NS but was offered a scholarship by a private entity at around the same time to pursue university studies in the United States from September 2014, the report added.
It said Lim registered for NS in May 2014 and applied for deferment, which was granted until May 2017, in order to pursue a diploma at the republic’s Polytechnic, but failed to complete his studies and left the country in July 2014.
That same month, Lim and his family tried applying to defer NS so that he could pursue his university studies, but did not succeed as the Ministry of Defence “does not usually grant deferment for university studies”, said the report.
The report said the Lims were told about the requirement of a bond for an exit permit to be issued, but they were “unhappy with such a policy”.
They did not produce such a bond, and instead continued applying to defer Lim’s NS enlistment in 2014 and 2015, it said.
After Singapore authorities told Lim’s father in February 2015 that Lim had to book a date for medical screening in preparation for enlistment, Lim’s father said his son had already started university studies in the US and would be renouncing his Singapore permanent residency status, said the news report.
According to the portal, Lim who returned to Singapore on June 2, 2015, was medically graded fit for enlistment on July 7, 2015, but left Singapore that same day for the US and continued trying to apply for deferment.
The report said Lim failed to report for enlistment on November 11, 2015, and a police gazette was issued against him.
The swimmer finally returned to Singapore on June 11, 2018, after completing his university studies.
Lim, who then enlisted in April 2019 and completed his NS on February 2, 2021, was allowed to begin his jail term on February 23, said the report.