Thursday, 25 August 2011

Dual citizenship

We are back in Evanston! More on our vacation later as I can't upload our photos yet...

The dual citizenship issue often comes up for Singaporeans who are planning to have kids while overseas. We are no exception.

Some Singaporean friends tell me to have a kid here in the US. And some non-Singaporean friends naturally assume that we would love to have US citizenship for our kids. Good to have US citizenship, they all say.

Good meh? I don't understand. I don't see how US citizenship is better than Singapore citizenship. Except when you want to work or study in the US - no need to bother with visa etc. It's convenient for a while but ultimately, our kids will be Singaporean cos the mum says so :p And since Singapore doesn't permit dual citizenship, any US citizenship will be given up at age 21 anyway.

It seems that many people don't understand dual citizenship in Singapore. Here are some facts:

1) Singapore does not allow dual citizenship. If your PRC colleague decides to take up Singapore citizenship, he will have to give up his PRC citizenship.

2) However, minors, i.e. aged 21 and below, can hold more than one citizenship. Why? Because generally, a person cannot renounce his/her citizenship before age 21. This applies to both born-and-bred Singaporeans and immigrants.

Example (a) Think the naturalised Singaporean from PRC who recently landed a President's Scholarship. An immigrant family came from country X and decided to take up Singapore citizenship. The parents have to renounce their citizenship from country X but the children are unable to do so because they're underaged. So until they reach 21, they hold both citizenships. Before the children turn 22, they must renounce their citizenship of country X, failing which their Singapore citizenship will be revoked.

Example (b) Say Sito and I have a kid born here in the US. The kid will be eligible for both US citizenship (jus soli) and Singapore citizenship (jus sanguinis), whether we're going to be living in the US or Singapore in future, and can hold both citizenships until he/she turns 21, when a choice will have to be made similar to the above case.

Fair? Fair.

3) Dual citizenship doesn't benefit Singapore. Ok, this may not be a fact; just my opinion. Every so often, someone will mention in forums etc that Singapore should allow dual citizenship so that we can attract international talent who may be less inclined to give up their citizenship or so that Singaporeans won't need to give up their own citizenship when migrating to another country.

Fallacy (a) If a foreigner is reluctant to give up his/her citizenship in order to take up our citizenship, why do we want him/her?! Where is his/her loyalty? Just stay as a foreigner, work in Singapore and contribute to our economy la! Unless he/she is keen to join us totally, I much prefer churning our foreign workforce, keep it evergreen. And I don't think we're short of people who want to be part of Singapore.

Fallacy (b) Singaporeans who are working in another country do not need to give up Singapore citizenship. Just work there as a foreigner or PR la! Countries like Australia generally do not differentiate between citizens and PRs, and sometimes foreigners get the same benefits as citizens. Want to take up other citizenship? Well, herein lies The Great Contradiction: On one hand, they dislike that immigrants in Singapore could hold dual citizenship (until age 21); on the other, they want to keep Singapore citizenship when they want to take up another citizenship. Fine, these may be two different groups of people but no reason to treat these two groups differently. Who is to say that an immigrant may be less committed to Singapore compared to a born-and-bred?

Side: It's like religions, right? Someone born into a religion could change his/her belief and become more committed to the latter compared to someone else born into it.

Question: Why do some countries like the US allow dual citizenship then? Actually, it doesn't disallow, but it doesn't encourage either. Read this.

4) No one can be a citizen of more than one county. Again, my opinion. How can I be Singaporean if I also call myself Australian or British?! There are exceptions though, e.g. when parents are from different countries, it will be difficult to choose one. 无解 cos I'm not smart enough :)

Anyway, Sito says I'm pro-PAP. Well, I just see myself as pro-Singapore. Because I'm Singaporean and only Singaporean.

PS: Just a note that we're not voting in the upcoming Presidential Election as we're not registered as overseas voters. Just as well, since we didn't really follow the campaigning. We only know our president will be a Tan :p And I'm not sure if it really makes a big difference when the whole machinery driving our system is much bigger than the state figurehead, and so long as the elected Tan will have enough sense and can stand tall among figureheads of other countries. Watching live discussions sometimes leave me scared, haha!

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