A man who was absent from national service (NS) duties for more than 17 years was on Tuesday (March 22) sentenced to five years and eight months’ jail.
Fitness instructor Mohammad Zaidie Ahmad, now 41, had pleaded guilty to two charges under the Civil Defence Act.
From March 13, 2004, he was posted to the HQ Basic Rescue Training Centre at Jalan Bahar Camp.
He reported for duty then, but went missing from July 5 that year. Police arrested him about five months later.
He was then ordered to resume duty in December the same year.
But Zaidie produced a medical certificate for the period between Dec 3 and 20, 2004.
The court heard that he again failed to report for duty on Dec 21 that year and police finally caught him on Sept 7 last year.
Court documents did not say why it took the authorities so long to arrest him.
Defence lawyer S. S. Dhillon told the court that his client had been financially supporting his son and two step siblings.
The lawyer also said that Zaidie had decided to abscond from NS duties so that the trio could be taken care of.
Before handing down the sentence on Tuesday, District Judge Marvin Bay noted that Zaidie had indicated that he was motivated by a need to earn more money.
But the judge stressed that “current world events make it all the clearer that the needs of national defence should be paramount”.
Judge Bay added: “All Singaporeans must understand that their national service duties should always be placed front and centre at a time when they are physically best suited to serve.”
Zaidie’s bail has been set at $20,000 and he was ordered to surrender himself at the State Courts on May 5 to begin serving his sentence.