Mixed reactions to dual citizenship idea
The Straits Times
| Feb 2, 1990
By: Sunny Goh
Some welcome second chance, others say
it might encourage emigration
SHOULD Singaporeans who emigrate be allowed
That suggestion, by Member of Parliament Peh Chin Hua, has clearly
divided some Singaporeans.
Those who like the idea say it offers a "second chance"
to people who made a mistake by emigrating and wish to return home.
But others were dead against it. They said the loyalty of people
holding two passports would be in question, and they feared that
such a scheme might even encourage some people to emigrate.
Mr Peh, an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, had urged the Government to consider
giving Singapore emigrants dual citizenship under certain conditions.
Writing in the latest issue of Petir, the official publication of
the People's Action Party, he said that it could be given, for example,
to Singaporeans who have emigrated, provided they completed national
had returned for reservist training.
Among the 10 people interviewed by The Straits Times was Mr Zulkifli
bin Baharudin, 30, an estate manager with EM Services, who was firmly
against the idea.
He said he appreciated the need to attract talented Singaporeans
back home, but felt that any solution should not be at the expense
of undermining the loyalty of citizens.
"If they have already decided to give up their citizenship,
why give them a foothold now, knowing well that their loyalty to,
and faith in the country are both questionable?" he asked.
Accounts manager Cheam Hing Lee, 30, warned that if Singaporeans
were allowed to hold two passports, they would simply "move
in and out" for their own selfish reasons.
"What price loyalty? If they make a mistake, they should pay
a price, not be given an option," he argued.
Moreover, Mr Cheam, who is also a Singapore Armed Forces reservist
captain, feared that people who were undecided about emigrating
might well decide to leave because the dual- citizenship option
would mean that they could always come back.
Engineer Lawrence Tan, 30, who thought the proposal gave emigrants
the best of both worlds, felt that there should be other ways to
bring them back.
"For example, once they decide to come home for good, they
must forgo their foreign citizenship once and for all," he
suggested. Among those who backed Mr Peh's idea was architect Cheang
Kum Cheong, who thought it provided "an escape valve"
to those who regretted emigrating but feared that they would lose
face if they returned.
He did not think the question of loyalty should be a stumbling block,
because those who returned could be asked to pledge that they would
not emigrate again.
Assistant textile manager S.P. Lim, 30, thought that by granting
dual citizenship, the Government would be telling overseas Singaporeans
that "the country still cares for them".
Contractor Lim Ah Soon, 48, felt that any scheme which brought "talent
and prosperity" to Singapore must be good. "I support
it," he said in Mandarin. A bank officer, Ms W.F. Lim, 28,
thought the dual citizenship idea might provide an outlet for those
who were frustrated with life here but were undecided about making
a permanent change.
"It gives me a chance to consider migrating overseas and trying
out a new life. I don't see anything wrong with it," she said.
Dr Arthur Beng, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee
for Home Affairs and Law said that his GPC would discuss the dual
citizenship idea. Personally, he said, he would not recommend dual
citizenship because he found it totally unacceptable for national
service and national security.
But he added that there were cases of Singapore emigrants' children
who were keen to come back, and his GPC would look into how they
could be helped.
Told about the reactions to his idea, Mr Peh said that a key consideration
was whether male emigrants were prepared to do some form of national
service if they had not already done so.
He stressed that the privilege should be granted only to those who
were sincere and deserving, and if they applied for it. "If
the Government feels that they cannot contribute effectively to
the country and that they will be a minus factor, they will not
be granted citizenship," he added.
He said he would gather feedback on his idea before deciding whether
to raise the issue in Parliament.