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Source: Lianhe Wanbao

Thai-born youth who served NS has Singapore citizenship revoked for allegedly failing to complete ORAL in time

The Singapore citizenship of Mr Xu, a 23-year-old Thai-born youth, was revoked after his alleged failure to complete the Oath of Renunciation, Allegiance and Loyalty (ORAL) within the stipulated deadline of one year.

It was alleged by Mr Xu, who was born to a Singaporean father and a Thai mother, that the failure to take up the ORAL was due to the rejection of his requests to seek leave during his National Service (NS) term, according to Lianhe Wanbao.

"At the time, I was serving NS, and my requests for leave were rejected. I was thus unable to complete my ORAL in time, and ICA revoked my citizenship on Sep 5 last year," he said.

He narrated: "Two years ago, I was called to serve NS. I just turned 21 on Sep 5 in the same year when I received a letter from the ICA.

"The letter said that I was an underage citizen who attained my citizenship either through application or via biological ties to a Singaporean parent. As such, I had to complete my ORAL within a year to keep my citizenship," he lamented.

"All my family members are in Singapore and I don't want to leave them. I have been trying to think of ways to regain my citizenship," he said apprehensively.

"The last time I went to ICA to reapply for citizenship, it was rejected, but I intend to try again.

Hopefully, they will let me stay in Singapore, and allow me to contribute to the society," he concluded.

He also highlighted that he went to Thailand to obtain the required documents before he could visit the Thai embassy in Singapore to renounce his Thai citizenship.

Currently, Mr Xu requires a Special Pass in order to remain in Singapore, which must be extended every three months.

Should he fail to obtain renewal for his Special Pass, Mr Xu will be asked to leave Singapore.

The process of renunciation of an applicant's current citizenship, which may take up a month to a year, typically begins with the applicant's visit to the embassy of the country of which he is currently a citizen of.

Then, a Renunciation Letter regarding the foreign citizenship will be given to the applicant.

Subsequently, the applicant has the obligation to present the original renunciation letter and a photocopy of said letter at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) office as a pre-requisite for taking the ORAL.

MINDEF alleges that Xu did not apply for leave from NS

The Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) has denied Mr Xu's allegations, stating that he did not apply for leave, nor did he submit relevant documents needed for his application for leave at any time throughout his time in NS.

It was only in July last year, two months before the one-year deadline, that Mr Xu had allegedly started applying for leave.

Mr Xu served a Section commander responsible for training new recruits until Sep 9 last year.

However, it had surpassed the one-year mark stipulated by the ICA.

"If he had submitted the relevant documents, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) would have fully supported him," according to a MINDEF spokesperson.

This, however, suggests that Mr Xu did apply for leave, but was not granted the leave he had requested.

ICA alleges that Xu did not follow up with reminders

The ICA said that in order to retain their citizenship, underage citizens who manage to receive Singapore citizenship via their parentage or via application are obliged to take up the ORAL once they reach the age of 21.

An ICA spokesperson stated that the Authority had informed Mr Xu regarding the necessary procedures for the ORAL through a letter before he turned 21.

Another letter was sent six months before his 22nd birthday to remind him of the necessary procedures, added the spokesperson.

The ICA spokesperson stressed that the question of citizenship is a grave one, considering that in Singapore law, a person's citizenship cannot be sought again once it has been revoked.

The spokesperson noted that the Authority was reassessing Mr Xu's application for Singapore citizenship.

Netizens infuriated by the apparent unfairness of Xu's situation

Many netizens were outraged by Mr Xu's predicament and sympathised with him, highlighting the fact that he completed his stint in NS unlike a handful of other citizens and PRs.

 Wood Peter said:
A stateless person...sad !
 Vikki Ang wrote:
He served NS, which can't be said for a lot of other new citizens and PRs.
 Laurence Lim commented:
"Foreign Talent" not born to Singaporeans are able to get citizenship without any problems, yet this one completed NS and still has to go through so much trouble... Something is not right...
 AK Tan wrote:
This is our civil service - lacking in empathy, simply following procedures, no accountability, and won’t hesitate to make your life a living hell. Where the heck is the “service”? Time for Singaporeans to break some iron rice bowl with your votes!
 Michael Wong said:
Singapore needs people like him... Please do something good, Mr Lee Hsien Loong!
However, Stan Chiam believes that the Government is not to blame, and that he suggests that Mr Xu was negligent in keeping up with the deadline in this case:
Doing things last minute has it consequences. Only when he found out how serious it is then start crying over spilt milk.
If he knew his citizenship will be revoked, and yet still did not take action promptly and do things at the very last minute, then serves him right!