Thursday, 10 July 2008

Will Citizenship Become A Commodity

Some time back, I chanced upon a foreigner who was clearly very excited in breaking the news to his mother back home on his readiness in taking up citizenship in Singapore.

I was elated at the good news for Singapore too. But, my initial reaction was short-lived as he rumbled out the rationale underlining his decision.

He would surrender his natural or inherited citizenship in exchange for Singapore's to facilitate his frequent travelling to the United States. As a Singapore citizen and holder of a Singapore passport would expedite immigration formality and clearance as compared to his status quo.

Prima facie, his taking up Singapore citizenship is one for convenience. What about his allegiance ? Only over time will one know for sure as he has decided to apply for permanent resident status back in his country of origin upon surrendering his present citizenship.

While we express joy over more foreigners taking up our citizenship, let us not be lulled into a false sense of security. We take pride that they prefer our citizenship, but whether or not they eventually sink roots in and for Singapore is anybody's guess.

In highlighting this possibly isolated incident, I wish to openly acknowledge that there are genuine applicants out there who sincerely and wholeheartedly wish for the switch-over for a win-win relationship.

This posting was published on ST Online Forum titled, "Singapore Citizenship A Convenient Stepping Stone ?" on 14 July 2008. By 1 August 2008, there were 1,493 visits and 37 comments.

Excerpts from ST September 20, 2009; "What it takes for foreigners to integrate in S'pore" by senior correspondent Radha Basu reflect best my other concerns over this issue of transicient citizenship:

"Sadly, some permanent residents (PRs) may opt to trade in their old passports for bright red ones (Singapore passports for citizens) for the sake of convenience, not commitment.

I have spoken to several Asian immigrants who admit privately that visa-free access to the Western world is a key reason they take up citizenship here.  Yet others, who work in prominent positions in Singaporean companies, do so to climb the corporate ladder."

"Taking up Singapore citizenship should not merely be about making use of benefits this country has to offer.  It should be about love, loyalty and responsibility; about believing in the values of this country.........."

"I fear that a zeal to mint as many 'instant citizens' as it can may lull Singapore into a false sense of security that most new citizens are here for the long haul."

"........some immigrants have the option of returning permanently to the land of their birth even if they become Singapore citizens."

".......I once met a Caucasian PR, who had lived here for three years, but had never visited any place 'where the MRT was above the ground'.  His little world revolved around Raffles Place and Orchard Road."

Read my other post:

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