Recently, a former PRC national who is now holding a Singapore passport publicly claimed on Chinese social media that he is “going back to his country” and admitted that he feels a “stronger sense of belonging to China”, despite his Singapore citizenship status.
A Douyin – China’s social media platform – user posted a video in which he stated that he had to prepare to go back to his home country the following day, while holding a Singaporean passport.
He was referring to his trip to Tianjin, China, and while he said he was “preparing to go back to his home country”, he was also showing a visa to visit China that had been successfully processed.
He mentioned that the VISA application process was a bit bumpy as he needed to “return to his country” on 25 April.
“When we checked online, all the appointments were already booked until mid-May. So, we had to rely on luck and go there every day to try to get an appointment,” he added that he tried three times and the first two attempts were unsuccessful.
He also showed off some souvenirs he intended to bring back to China for his family, including Tiger Balm oil, Old Town White Coffee packages, and salted egg instant noodles.
In his personal profile, the Douyin user claimed to have been staying in Singapore for 30 years and liked to record his life and show the most authentic “little” Singapore (小坡) to everyone.
Not appropriate to say “back to home country”
While netizens welcome him to visit his family in Tianjin, there are also other Douyin users, who commented on his post, and called out that he is already a Singapore citizen, and it is not appropriate to use the term ‘back to home country’.
A netizen commented, ‘You are a Singaporean citizen, so you cannot say you are going back to your home country.’
In response, the Douyin user said, ‘To me, it is going back to my home country.’
Another netizen remarked, “If you changed your nationality, you can no longer say ‘going back to your home country’ because people who are truly going back to their home country do not need to apply for a visa.”
“Now you can only say that you are visiting relatives! You are a foreigner now.”
“No longer a PRC citizen”
“You are entering China, not returning to your home country.”
Other comments praised his love for his “home country”
However, there are also comments that supported the Douyin user’s perspective, arguing that it shows that the user still loves his home country.
One comment read, “This just shows that he is still patriotic.”
Another comment asked, “So how do you define patriotism? By your passport?”
One user added, “We say it like this too! We love our motherland, but we also love Singapore!”, probably suggesting that it is possible to be loyal to and love two countries simultaneously.
The SG citizen admitted that he feels a stronger sense of belonging to China
The Douyin user was asked by a netizen if he feels a sense of belonging to Singapore after becoming a citizen, to which he replied, “Honestly speaking, I feel a stronger sense of belonging to China. ”
“I hope to retire and go back to China, and maybe apply for a Chinese overseas residence permit. Live out my remaining years in peace.”
While calling China his “home country”, in another post, the Douyin user can be seen hanging a Singapore flag in his own bungalow a day before Singapore’s National Day in 2021:
Singaporean netizen “deeply troubled” by the Douyin user’s comment
A Facebook user expressed his displeasure towards the Douyin user in the “SG Opposition” Facebook group, claiming that the user lacked respect for Singapore.
“As a Singaporean myself, I find it deeply troubling that someone who has been granted the privilege of citizenship in our country would not show proper respect and appreciation for our nation.”
He called out the Douyin user’s comment, which implied that Singapore was not his true home and that the Douyin user preferred to return to China.
“This is highly disrespectful to Singapore and to all Singaporeans, who have worked hard to build our nation into the prosperous and thriving country that it is today.”
He urged the relevant authorities to investigate this matter and take appropriate action if necessary.
23,100 new citizenships granted in 2022 but only 3,400 new citizens serve NS each year
While the Douyin user claimed to have been staying in Singapore for 30 years, it is unknown when he was granted citizenship or if he has ever served National Service (NS).
In 2022, Singapore granted around 23,100 new citizenships. Under the Population White Paper, Singapore aims to grant 20,000 new citizens and 30,000 Permanent Residents each year to meet a projected population target of 6.9 million in 2030.
Speaking in Parliament in February this year, Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, stressed that welcoming immigrants to Singapore play an important part in moderating the impact of an ageing population and low birth rates.
“While most Singaporeans understand why we need immigrants, there are, understandably, concerns over competition for jobs and other resources, and how the texture and character of our society could change, and whether our infrastructure can keep up,” Ms Indranee told Parliament.
Last August, refuting Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leong Mun Wai’s assertion that “citizens by registration are not doing NS”, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen told Parliament that 3,400 new citizens serve NS on the average each year.
“Mr Leong’s assertion is inaccurate and misleading,” Dr Ng rebutted Mr Leong at the time. “Since 2000, on average, 3,400 new citizens are registered each year who have been or will be enlisted like all male Singaporeans to serve their NS duties.”
However, in an earlier written reply to Parliament, Dr Ng did acknowledge that men who receive citizenship as mature adults, typically in their 30s and 40s, are not enlisted as they are not suitable for full-time NS at that age and did not enjoy any benefits before obtaining their citizenship.
But new male citizens who stayed in Singapore when young and enjoyed economic and social benefits are enlisted when they reach 18 years of age or older, he said. They enlist for NS at 18 years or older to perform full-time NS and must fulfil their operationally ready NS duties after that. “That is universal and equitable,” Dr Ng added.