Defaulting National Service Obligations

31 August 2018

Conviction of a Thailand-born man for defaulting on his national service obligations in Singapore

1. Introduction

According to Enlistment Act (Chapter 93), all male Singaporeans and Permanent Residents of Singapore aged 13 and above are required to comply with the Exit Permit requirements should they stay overseas for three months or longer.

Section 32 of the Enlistment Act read

Exit permits

32.—(1) A person subject to this Act who has been registered under section 3 or is deemed to be registered or is liable to register under this Act, or a relevant child, shall not leave Singapore or remain outside Singapore unless he is in possession of a valid permit (referred to in this Act as exit permit) issued by the proper authority permitting him to do so.

[14/2006 wef 15/08/2006]

(2) A person to whom an exit permit under subsection (1) is granted shall return to Singapore before the expiry of the period for which he was allowed to stay outside Singapore.


(3) Any relevant child within or outside Singapore who contravenes subsection (1) or (2) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000.

[14/2006 wef 15/08/2006]

(4) Where any relevant child contravenes subsection (1) or (2), each parent within or outside Singapore of the relevant child shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,000.

[14/2006 wef 15/08/2006]

(5) In this section —

“parent”, in relation to a relevant child, includes a guardian and any person having the actual custody of the relevant child;

“relevant child” means a person who is a citizen or permanent resident of Singapore and who is not less than 13 years of age but less than 16 years and 6 months of age.

[14/2006 wef 15/08/2006]

2. Born and raised in Thailand

Ekawit Tangtrakarn was born and raised in Thailand to a Singaporean mother and Thai father.

Despite being reminded via emails by the Central Manpower Base to apply for exit permit, Ekawit’s mother had failed to do so. This is in breach of the Enlistment Act. Ekawit pleaded guilty to one count of remaining outside of Singapore without a valid exit permit.

3. Eugene comments in Yahoo News

In the wake of the recent conviction of 24-year-old Thai national Ekawit Tangtrakarn for defaulting on his National Service obligations in Singapore (he was a Singapore citizen until he was 22), Yahoo News Singapore reached out to our Eugene Thuraisingam for comment.

In relation to the requirement that Singaporean males who wish to relocate overseas for a period of more than two years prior to completing National Service must furnish a bond in the form of a banker’s guarantee in the sum of at least $75,000, Eugene pointed out that there are no provisions in the legislation that address the situation of affected families who can’t afford the guarantee.

In addition, he noted that of particular interest is that the extent of an NS defaulter’s connection to Singapore is not a factor in the sentencing process because:-

the assessment of the degree of the defaulter’s connection to Singapore is within the prerogative of the Ministry of Defence (Mindef), and as such, is a matter of Mindef policy, not law.