by: Ajax Copperwater/

Ever heard of this joke?

Question: Why doesn’t Singapore has a cosmonaut yet?
Answer: Because the Singapore Government was afraid that the cosmonaut might migrate to Mars.

I chanced upon a news article, which featured President’s Scholar, Miss Xiao Yifei. Well, I say good for her for receiving a prestigious scholarship through diligence and immersing herself in charity works. A remarkable lady!

However, that’s not what caught my attention. The below-mention did:

“19-year-old Yifei came to Singapore from China when she was four years old.

Though she carries a dual citizenship, the former Raffles Institution student said she has always considered herself a Singaporean and will have no issues renouncing her Chinese citizenship when she reaches 21.”

Wait a minute… Since when does Singapore allow dual citizenship? A check with Wikipedia came out:

“Minors who are dual or multiple citizens by birth on foreign soil, by descent from foreign parents or by naturalisation before the age of 18 are required to renounce all foreign citizenships by the age of 22 or may lose their Singaporean citizenship.”

Hence, this explains Miss Xiao’s circumstance. It was only possible in her case, being born in China and naturalized before the age of 22, as it’s forbidden for anyone 22 (or above 21 for males obliged to serve National Service) to hold dual citizenships.

But, hang on… I have served alongside non-Singapore citizens during my NS stints. Good fellows every one of them. The ban on dual citizenship does not make any sense when National Service (NS) comes into play.

So, what’s in a citizenship which was so contentious during the last General Election?

A citizenship guarantees a citizen protection by the nation; and gives the citizen several rights and benefits from the nation. The citizen usually gets the lion’s share of the pie. Of course, these rights and benefits come with obligation to the nation as well.

Most Singaporeans think this is not the case in Singapore. Flip through any blog and you will find foreigners getting priorities or preference at jobs, education, NS deferment, etc. over Singaporeans.

Of course these are just hearsay and cannot be verified first-hand, but the over-crowding of our public infrastructure due to the influx of foreigners, gives some credence to this.

The real problem though is over-crowding – there are just simply too many people in this country.

Humans were never meant to live in high-density areas. We are hard-wired to be territorial. Living and working on top of each other, and having so many people around us 24/7 only increases the feeling of suffocation.

Then there is this migratory nature of humans, often seeking to better our living conditions. Sometimes, it’s just a seeking of change of environment or to experience a different culture.

But unlike other countries, Singapore is city-state. Which means that citizens can’t uproot from a city and move to another within the same country. The only solution available to us is to move to another country.

In this globalised world, it simply doesn’t make sense to ban dual citizenship. To use the excuse that national security might be compromised due to multiple allegiance, is also not justifiable because we have Permanent Residents who are citizens of another country serving NS.

I strongly support the notion of dual citizenship for Singaporeans regardless of age and gender. This will allow Singaporeans to become fully a citizen of the globalised world, as well as live in another country to broaden their own experience.

In addition, allowing dual citizenships will also enable Singapore to have a bigger population, without physically straining living conditions here, as Singaporeans will be free to live and work elsewhere, and also benefit from services provided by both countries.

Singapore is a knowledge-driven economy and we need the exchange of ideas and people in order to move forward. Dual citizenship will enhance this exchange greatly.

Dual citizenship does not mean Singaporeans will forget about Singapore or abandon it in times of crisis. It gives restless humans a sense of belonging and home in two places. Moreover, it gives people a sense of acceptance and a feeling of not being discriminated for having more than one heritage – for having families overseas.

Remember the joke earlier? Now, do you see a Singaporean-Martian cosmonaut among today’s children?

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