photo: sme.org.my

Should Dual Citizenship be permitted given that majority of Singaporeans would like to have overseas experience?

According to a recent survey on a thousand Singaporeans, it would appear that the majority of Singaporeans would like to have an opportunity to live for a period of time overseas. Given that Singapore is a small country, this is not altogether surprising. In a globalised economy, it would benefit most people to have had a work stint in another country.

What I found surprising, however, was that those in the government sector indicated the least desire to move abroad at 78%. Is this because those who choose to work in the government sector are those who are less adventurous to begin with or is it because the government treats its employees so well that there is simply no desire to rock the boat? Perhaps those that work within government sectors become part of the system so to speak and therefore become institutionalised?

I don’t know the answer but I do find the results interesting.

There has long been the suggestion that those who work within the government are not accountable to the public. While this would apply more to members in the People’s Action Party and other high level civil servants who are invariably linked to the ruling party, there is the perception that those within the government are more “protected” than those outside it. If this is indeed the thinking, it is par for the course that those within government sectors would not want to leave Singapore. Why leave if you got it good?

Is the chasm between those within the government and those outside it widening? With things like GST hikes and price increases, it becomes easier for society to become polarised. People become seen as either part of the system enforcing the “hardships” or the victims of the “hardships” that are being imposed on them by those within the system. Could this have contributed to why more people outside the government system want to leave?

In an open economy, people should be permitted to come and go as they please. The concern then is ensuring that we do not suffer a brain drain. Will the current law of disallowing dual nationality exacerbate the situation? Do we really want to force people to choose?

If someone is working overseas and doing well, would they be forced to give up their citizenship prematurely if they are made to choose? These are people who may have eventually come back, bringing the skills and knowledge they have acquired back with them. However, because they were pressured into choosing by a Singapore which does not permit dual nationality, they may just end up having their minds made up for them by a rigid law.

In light of this survey, Singapore should really look into abolishing its laws against dual nationality. I am not sure what their reservations are anyway. Not in this day and age.