The Dual Citizenship Taboo

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One of the hottest topics among overseas Singaporeans is dual citizenship. It is "common knowledge" that Singaporeans are not allowed to hold dual citizenships. So naturally, most of us would come to assume that no Singaporean holds a dual citizenship. Ah, that Singaporean mind.


Using PM Lee Hsien Loong as an example, the picture (left) was posted on his Facebook fan page, proudly declared him as a Citizen of London. I'll have to be honest here - I cannot be awfully sure if a Citizen of London is the same as a Citizen of England, UK, Britain or whatever that is relevant but it probably doesn't matter anyway and I'll explain that to you later on. But if you are thinking what I'm thinking, viola! A Singaporean with dual citizenship.


If you don't get the point, I'll put it in another way. In Singapore, we are not allowed to litter. But you've gotta be a fool to think there are no Singaporean litterbugs just because there is a law that punishes one for the act.


I believe 99% of the overseas Singaporeans have never given this much of a thought, much less looking into the Constitution. For your benefit, here is line you may want to read

Deprivation of citizenship on acquisition of foreign citizenship (source)

134.
—(1)  The Government may by order deprive a citizen of Singapore of his citizenship if the Government is satisfied that —

(a)
he has, while of or over the age of 18 years, at any time after 6th April 1960 acquired by registration, naturalisation or other voluntary and formal act (other than marriage) the citizenship of any country outside Singapore or having so acquired such citizenship before the age of 18 years continues to retain it after that age; or
(b)
the citizen, being a woman who is a citizen of Singapore by registration under Article 123(2), has acquired the citizenship of any country outside Singapore by virtue of her marriage to a person who is not a citizen of Singapore.


(2)  Where the Government has made an order under this Article depriving a citizen of Singapore of his citizenship, he shall cease to be a citizen with effect from the date of the order.

Not that anyone will actually make the futile effort to put up a request to the Government to revoke PM Lee's Singaporean citizenship, the Government cannot do do under the Constitution anyway because he was not granted a foreign citizenship under any of the circumstances listed. (He didn't register, wasn't naturalised and could even argue it wasn't voluntary.) Furthermore, most people ignore or perhaps just unaware of the most important line of this Constitution, "Where the Government has made an order under this Article depriving a citizen of Singapore of his citizenship, he shall cease to be a citizen with effect from the date of the order."


We have to know the mechanism behind the scenes to understand the effect of the line. The Government has no right to deprive a Singaporean of his citizenship prior to him getting his foreign citizenship, even if they know he has the intention or in the midst of applying for one. So at some point of time, (let it be T) a Singaporean will be a dual citizen until the Singapore Government makes an order against him under the Article. However, T is not specified. So T can be 100 days, 1 year, 10 years or never at all - that is if the Singapore Government makes an order against the Singaporean at all. We tend to forget that is an option to exercise, not necessarily a default.


Many overseas Singaporeans tend to mix up the situation between ex-Singaporeans withdrawal of their CPF and being deprived of their Singaporean citizenship by order from the Government. To withdraw your CPF, the only requirement is the renunciation of your Singapore citizenship and the requirement to renounce is the acquiring of a citizenship in another country. In such a situation, it is a voluntary renunciation, not an order by the Government under the Article. 


So what happens if a Singaporean acquires dual citizenship but chooses not to withdraw his CPF? I cannot find any information on Government websites which explicitly states it is an offence to hold a dual citizenship and anyone who does has to declare it to the Government within x number of days. (I'm not a google geek so if such a law exist, I'll appreciate if you can provide me the link for update). I have absolutely no doubt many Singaporeans like that exists because there is little or no benefit (and we know how they work) for the Singapore Government to exercise the order against them even if it exists. In fact, the current PM even bothered to set up a special unit under the PMO called Overseas Singaporeans Unit (OSU) with wooing ex-Singaporeans back to Singapore as one of its core missions. Why would the Government then, stir up a placid lake if the ordinary Singaporean doesn't make a request to renounce his citizenship? Unless your name is Chee Soon Juan, perhaps.

12 comments:

  1. he has, while of or over the age of 18 years, at any time after 6th April 1960 acquired by registration, naturalisation or other voluntary and formal act (other than marriage) the citizenship of any country outside Singapore or having so acquired such citizenship before the age of 18 years continues to retain it after that age; or

    LHL got the citizensship via a FORMAL act. thus, it does apply to him as well

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  2. George Orwell — 'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.'

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  3. Most Malaysians that I know here hold both Citizenships. There is no problem and we are in and out of Malaysia as usual.

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  4. I'm not sure if this is actually the British equivalent of this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honorary_Citizen_of_Singapore

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  5. > the citizen, being a woman who is a citizen of Singapore by registration under Article 123(2),

    ASingaporeanSon, You caught me surprised for a moment.

    After checking, the above refers to the females who get their Singapore citizenship by marrying a Singapore citizen, not those who are Singapore citizens-by-birth. If such a female (Singapore citizen-by-marriage) re-married to another person who is not a Singapore citizen, she may lose her Singapore citizenship and become stateless (unless she acquires another citizenship).

    The above is another example of Singapore's antiquated gender-biased laws that never got revised properly. Singapore allows males married to (presumably females since same-sex marriage is not legalized) Singapore citizens-by-birth to apply for citizenship. But these foreign-born males who obtain Singapore citizenship-through-marriage are not covered under Article 123(2). Therefore, here is a work-about for foreign males to obtain Singapore citizenship, just marry a female Singapore citizen-by-birth... whether to divorce or not later is up to the foreign male, he will still retain his Singapore citizenship acquired through (a previous) marriage. O_o

    IMHO, some folks have been sleeping on their jobs. Or Singapore is short on males, don't care if they do NS or not.

    ------------------------------

    Anyway, the above can be a joke for folks like us who are Singapore citizens-by-birth. But for the descendants of political enemies of an old man (who loves to dress in white) it is a harsh reality that they have to face in life. E.g. Born in Singapore but denied Singapore-citizenship (and thus is stateless) because one's father was a political enemy (imprisoned when Singapore achieved independence and therefore denied Singapore citizenship). The offspring may be unable to travel outside of Singapore as he/she is officially stateless and is dependent upon the mercy of paper-pushers to issue him/her a Certificate Of Identity if he/she wishes to travel outside of Singapore. This is not a joke, I know someone personally who was affected.
    http://winkingdoll.blogspot.ca/2011/05/guest-story-why-i-hate-pap.html

    IMHO, the current batch of white folks are even more thin-skinned than their old man. So would any Singaporean be fooled into believing that they are welcomed to speak-up and contribute even constructive criticisms of the present government if this is how they treat the folks with differing views? Especially overseas Singaporeans who have tasted freedom first-hand?
    http://winkingdoll.blogspot.ca/2013/04/sg-cartoonist-arrested.html
    http://winkingdoll.blogspot.ca/2013/01/a-great-singaporean-mystery.html
    http://winkingdoll.blogspot.ca/2013/04/brunch-with-former-bureaucrats.html

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  6. recently, I am no longer sure how ppl hold 2 passport and not get caught. unless u lie at the ICA when u renew ur passport that [ I declare that I do not own another country passport ]

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    1. The authority will not be able to find out.

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  7. How can we confirm that he is a Singapore Citizen?

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  8. Singapore Passport holders have very few travel restrictions around the world. ... In addition, Singapore citizens who are first time buyers of government-built flats can enjoy housing subsidies such ..... Singapore does not allow dual citizenship. More Information about Dual Citizenship? visit: http://www.high-net-worth-immigration.com

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  9. Just came by for the information about dual Singapore Citizenship. It was a nice read for me. I highly appreciate the information you set here about this.

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  10. good read for a singaporean like me

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  11. ood writeup for a Singaporean like me

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