A 25-year-old Indian national, who is a permanent resident in Singapore, has been taken to a court for allegedly defaulting on his national service obligations for more than five years.
Corporal First Class (CFC) Thirumal Pavithran, 25, was on Thursday charged with four counts of leaving Singapore without a valid permit for a combined duration of more than five years, an offence under the Enlistment Act, the Straits Times reported.
Pavithran eventually returned and started his full-time National Service (NS) in May 2017. The court documents did not reveal where he went after leaving Singapore and the reasons behind his return.
National service (NS) is mandatory for all male Singapore citizens and permanent residents who are above 18 years of age.
According to the chargesheet, Pavithran committed the offences on four separate occasions between November 1, 2010 and July 7, 2016.
Pavithran first left Singapore on November 1, 2010, when he was 16 years old, for a period of 10 months and 27 days. He returned on September 28, 2011, but left Singapore again on October 5 that year, this time for a year and 11 days. He came back to the country on October 16, 2012.
On October 24, 2012, Pavithran left Singapore for three years, one month and 29 days. He came back on December 22, 2015, before going overseas on December 30, 2015.
He came back to Singapore on July 8, 2016, and enlisted into full-time NS on May 13, 2017. He will finish his full-time service on Sunday, said the Ministry of Defence.
It "reminded all male Singapore citizens and permanent residents that they have a duty to serve national service".
The Ministry said "it takes a firm stance against those who commit offences under the Enlistment Act".
"If we allow Singapore citizens or permanent residents who are overseas to evade national service or to choose when they want to serve national service, we are not being fair to the vast majority of our national servicemen who serve their country dutifully, and the institution of national service will be undermined," said a Ministry spokesman.
The case will come back to court on May 23.
If convicted of remaining outside Singapore without a valid exit permit, Pavithran can be jailed for up to three years and fined up to 10,000 Singaporean dollars for each charge.