What Does the Singapore Citizenship Mean to You?

To all overseas Singaporeans,

I have a few questions for you. These have been running through my mind for some time now. During gatherings with Singaporeans here in Perth, the topic of renunciation of the Singapore citizenship will pop up once in awhile. When asked why, one of the most common answers given will be, unsurprisingly, "Take out CPF lah!"

Indeed, we can take the Singaporean out of Singapore, but we can never take the Singapore out of a Singaporean. Money continues to be our main motivation behind most of our life-changing decisions. I cannot speak for the others, there may be people who refuse to admit it. If work life balance is the main motivation why Singaporeans roam overseas, we will be thoroughly all over the world and not just herded mainly in USA, UK, Canada and Australia. I believe these are not the only countries which can offer a better work/life balance in the world.

Ok, it's about money. Nothing to be ashamed of. We need the money to survive in this modern age, especially none of us Singaporeans of this generation have been trained to live off a piece of good land even if we are gifted one. We need money to live better than we did in Singapore and hopefully be able to afford the odd-trip. It's tougher to make the same trip using Baht or Ringgit.

Back to the topic, it hurts a little to hear statements like, "Why don't you keep your citizenship since you have almost no CPF anyway?" In case you didn't get it, I wasn't hurt because people realise I am piss-poor but the way many of us regard the idea of citizenship no higher than a few zeros in the banks. Ok, maybe some people have more than a few zeroes but that highlights the point altogether. The importance of the citizenship is inversely proportional to the balance in our CPF account. Perhaps I am overstating the meaning of a citizenship here. Maybe it has been merely a pass to bypass a gantry, just like a cashcard in the IU device going pass an ERP gantry. No other meanings like childhood memories, sentiments or Stand up for Singapore.

I seriously think it is not only money. Before I left for Singapore for my short return last month, I attended a gathering at Sham & Rob's. Eve made an exquisite jelly of a Singapore flag with the crescent and stars embossed. It was like a 3D flag, fucking class. The menu of the night was 100% Singaporean. Unbeatable rendang, satay and a long list that enabled us to get drunk of Singapore. Someone brought along a Singapore flag and I saw our handsome boy taking photos with children holding the flag. I didn't know if it was Sham's or Rob's idea to stream the NDP 'live' on TV but it attracted a small group of us to naturally crowd around the TV and view the familiar sights and sound and comment about Ah Gong's gaping mouth, inciting standard Singaporean banter from those glued to the dining table to call out, "Oi, siam leh. Don't block the TV." Really, 2 years, 4 years, 7 years, 10 years.... No matter how long you are away, no matter how well we learn to speak and behave like locals, the Singaporean in us will never be quit - unlike what some ex-PM said.

Some questions I always wondered about:

1) If Singapore allows dual-citizenship will you keep it? Why?

2) If you have no money in the CPF, will you bo dai bo ji renounce your Singapore citizenship? Why?

3) Does your red passport really mean cashcard or does it has a little Stand up for Singapore for you?


  1. i want singapore to recognise dual citizenship. and i do want to go back as frequently as possible.

    but if the crunch comes and i have to make a choice between sg and au citizenship, then i will certainly give sg's up.

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  3. 1. No, due to NS liabilities and CPF. I don't trust the Gahmen with my CPF, fullstop.

    2. Yes, due to NS liabilities. If not for that, I won't mind keeping SG citizenship IF (and only if) dual citizenship is allowed

    3. It means nothing. Don't kid yourself. It was being given out like nobody's business. Still is albeit at a somewhat decreased rate only because the PAP is afraid of backlash at 2016.

    The Gahmen doesn't take Singapore citizenship seriously. The question is whether as common citizens with little to gain from this relationship, whether you should still hold it sacred.


    1. In an ideal world, the citizenship of every citizen should be highly valued. However, maybe whilst it may have been true for Singaporeans as well in the past, I personally no longer think we are living in this ideal state in Singapore.

      I used to be one of those who held being a Singapore citizen very dear to my heart. But I've realised this no longer holds true. For the very reason that Neurotic Ramblings mentions above: the own government of Singapore does not take Singapore citizenship seriously. Just dishing it out left and right. But only the original citizens are expected to risk their lives defending the country in times of need.

      Those noob citizens, and their cousins the PRs, are freely given the privileges without needing to commit in return (only now, after so much hoo-ha on social media and recent elections, does the government takes token reactive action to appease the hordes). Too little, too late.

      So is citizenship important - yes, but need to take it in context. If the country is willing to look after you as you are willing to look after it, then it is worth keeping. But if the country is prepared to discard you in favor of the foreign dollar, then it's time to review the importance of citizenship of that country.

  4. I think you pointed out at least once before that there are 2 types of people - the ones whose identities are tied so closely with their country of origin as to be inseparable, and those whose identities are not so tied. Most people who migrate, I believe, belong to the latter group.

    I belong to the later group. I see myself more of an Asian and a global citizen. I love the Singapore of my youth, but I can't say the same now because the Singapore of my youth no longer exists. Having said that, this does not mean I do not care about the Singapore or today. I am interested in the affairs of Singapore and keep up with Singapore news. I love and miss family and friends who are in Singapore and certain aspects of Singapore, like the food and Singlish.

    Having migrated, the practicalities of life have to be dealt with. I have a mortgage I need to pay off as quickly as possible. I have CPF sitting in Singapore earning very little in interest. I do not trust the Singapore Government with my CPF. So yes, I have decided to give up my Singapore citizenship if and when I am granted Australian citizenship.

    If CPF were not an issue and Singapore allowed dual citizenship, then yes, I would like to hold onto that because I care enough about Singapore to want to have a say in who runs the country and how. If CPF were not an issue but Singapore still does not allow dual citizenship, I would choose the Australian citizenship because I live here now and I want to have a say in who runs the country and how.

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    1. No. Because I'm a one country man.

      Yes. Because I don't share the values that Singapore now represents.

      It doesn't mean shit to me.

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    1. NS is a liability to ME, ME and ME. Particularly so because I am held at mercy of the MINDEF exit permit system. So tell me, Mr Wise Guy, who is going to pay for my plane ticket back to Singapore to serve reservist if MINDEF doesn't grant me EP extension? Who is going to compensate me for my lost time? You?

      If MINDEF really pays me for my lost time and sponsors me return economy tickets back to Singapore, yes I will SERVE. Otherwise, BULLSHIT.

      Sure, EP usually is extended if proof of employment is given. But it's like a permanent Sword of Damocles. One I intend to remove by renouncing SC at the earliest opportunity.

      Before you attempt to scale the moral high ground, apply the same standards to everyone holding the pink IC, and the Singapore PR (some need to serve but don't get SC even though they are committed. Others get away scot free)

      A little perspective for you to explore. Why don't you compare our armed forces to the regional countries? Ever wonder why so many other countries (even 'small' countries like SG) can afford not to have a conscripted armed forces?

      Do you use a grenade to kill a Standard Aussie Tarantula, or will a shoe suffice?

      When you understand perspective and context, then you will be able to free your mind with regards to NS.

      Until then, you are just another dinosaur reminiscing the good old NS days.

      FYI, I was a Navy regular (CPT) until recently. Seen some things in my course of duty which made me question NS. Yes we need a reasonably strong SAF, superior to the neighbours'. Do we need NS in its current iteration to achieve that? Hmmmm....

      NS is one of the things tearing our nation apart. If you are blind to this, you are no better than many of our leadership who is running this country into the ground.

      I don't know about you. But as an Officer of the SAF, my men's failings were mine. Seems like the higher they go, our country's leaders forget this principle, and instead start to blame the people who were supporting them and working for them in the first place.

      Anyway, I can only be grateful for being able to buy HDB and profiting from the sale. Everything else.. Hmmmm.. Hard work and God-given intellect will see everyone through most other systems. Not to say that I am smart, but give yourself a bit more credit lah.

      If you want to heil Singapore, just stay there. Don't make so much noise.


    2. Uncle, well done on your NS exploits. Sincerely.

      But the Singapore now is not the Singapore of your time. I will not defend this Singapore for Filipinos, China Chinese and India Indians to take away the jobs of my Singaporean brothers and sisters.

      If my adopted country were to institute NS tomorrow and make it compulsory, I will be the first one to sign up. I will defend a country that puts its citizens first, jobs wise. I will defend a country that looks after its elderly and the sickly. I will definitely defend a country where drivers on the road give way and pedestrians using the zebra crossing give a friendly wave and smile when you stop for them.


    3. "You are nothing, if not for Singapore."

      And Singapore will be nothing, if not for my parents, your parents everyone's parents and grandparents.

      We all did our part.

      The water I drank was NEWater, and its origin was shit and pee.

  7. I also have some exploits. To go off topic...

    I was company 2nd fastest for SOC in BMT, and wanted to sign on with Guards (signing on because I didn't know what to do with my life then, and I really loved to cheong sua). After I too garang and hurt my knee (some pain but didn't downgrade, I was PES A all the way until I got chronic illness just this year), I tried to sign on air force but didn't make it somehow. So if cannot "Above All", then it's gotta be "Nothing Comes Close". Right at the bottom.

    Was getting IPPT gold until I went to uni. There I got fat and lazy, not like Blessed Singaporean so garang. But still always pass my IPPT, and recently pushed myself to a silver despite my illness, just before I downgraded. Back when I was trying for my Silver, I did not know that I was ill, despite my symptoms. In a way I'm glad to have this small PERSONAL achievement before I quit. I know to some, silver is nothing or even "disgraceful". haha!

    But, me being paid regular pay, still ok. I did not actually sacrifice during my "NS time" like everyone else. So I am much like a foreign talent in that sense... :x

    CK, I think Blessed Singaporean left a Singapore which meant something more. Maybe he romanticizes the country he left.. It's not wrong to do that, to love your country (whether it loves you back or not)

    To ABS, I do not blame you for having different perspectives, and I can accept your criticism and differing views. But like I said earlier, I think there are perspectives and contexts you are a bit out of touch with.


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    1. AHA! I shall call you out on this:

      "BTW, nobody owes you a living.
      Singapore doesn't owe you a living. Australia doesn't owe you a living."

      Applying YOUR logic, I do not owe anyone a living. Besides my wife. So what do I have to be grateful to Singapore for? Your original argument is flawed. And apart from some chest-thumping and holier-than-thou attitude, you have offered nothing in your comments on this post.

      You have no way to maneuver here. Unless you want to concede that Singapore should be grateful to me (and the rest of us who serve, blah blah blah). But you worship the country you migrated from, for some strange reason.

      Ok lah, you injured but pressed on. Big furry deal. Actually I was like that before but I find it damn stupid. Not something to be proud of. Sacrifice for your nation during wartime, still ok. But in peacetime? To "protect" foreign talents? No thanks!

      In any case, if you know how some factions of the Army operates right now, you may just lose ALL hope in the SAF. But to me, I see them taking care for soldiers seriously, and that's a step in the correct direction.

      I've always called a spade a spade. So I will not sweep the bad things about Australia under the carpet, the way you seem to do for SG. I always believe in comparing at the macro level, and to be as objective as possible. I've already kebelakan pusing and told my parents that they should not migrate to Oz, after reading more details about Australia. The tax system is a bitch with all the details, that I will admit. High tax, yes I don't like, but I will pay my dues and shut up.

      But one thing is sure, I will not turn tail and head back to Singapore. I am grateful to people like YOU for that ;). You are not the only Singapore apologist I've met, and ironically it is the people like yourself who contribute to my dislike of Singapore as an entity. Nothing personal here. You could say the same of me, I couldn't care less.

      Anyway, you have completely failed to address the salient points I've brought up. So I leave the other readers of Nix's blog to judge the quality of our comments. Good day to you!


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  10. 1) Yes, I will probably keep my SG citizenship. I still have families and friends who are in SG. Having duo citizenship decrease the hassle of applying for a visa.

    2) I'll probably re-noun if I have children as I do not want them to serve NS as I did. You have to do re-service and IPPT after completing NS (re-training as well if you fail IPPT). It make employing a male Singaporean un-competitive when compared to their female counter-part and FT.

    As a poster stated 'no one/country owe you a living.' I agree, I expect no benefits from my country, but why slap with me a liability where non-citizen do not have? I have given 2 years of my life, so please leave me alone already.

    I understand my point of view may seems rather egocentric, but that is how I view the system in Singapore. You need to think for yourself, don't bother hoping or relying on the government to help you level the playing field. If other countries offer better prospect, why remain in a country that does not appreciate you at all?

    1. Just to add

      Singapore is the country where I grew up in, where my memories are made and held. A homeland which have turned into an unrecognisable place. The cuisine lost its unique flavour, the people lost their friendliness and hardly any service staff that are Singaporeans.

      3) Cash card? Sorry piss-poor like you.
      Stand up for SG? I have love for the people who I grew up with, but little love for the country I do not recognise...

  11. 1) If Singapore allows dual-citizenship will you keep it? Why?
    Yes, if there is no unfavourable condition.
    Freedom to travel around the world, not just Singapore and Australia.

    2) If you have no money in the CPF, will you bo dai bo ji renounce your Singapore citizenship? Why?
    Quite obvious. No $$$ in CPF, renounce for what!

    3) Does your red passport really mean cashcard or does it has a little Stand up for Singapore for you?
    Oh please! This red passport got me into a shit trouble in 2001.
    Just because there is a crescent moon and stars on it, the US custom officers thinking I came from an Islamic country and they searched my luggage and body. That's the price I paid!
    They don't give a shit I don't like Osama or I am obviously a yellow Chinese. That moon on the passport spells trouble, I warn u all!


    To ABlessedSingapore,
    I hope to lead a life w/o regrets like you and the regrets in my past are like a torn pages from my book of life. From you, I somewhat see myself not doing my best with every passing days I live and taking things for granted. I wish I could be like you, giving your best shot in everything you do and live without regrets, and learn to move on to accept another day of challenge ahead. I have been staying abroad for many years and I don't get a long well with my parents. Now I realised I really need to make up for my rebellious youth and tell them how much I miss them, when I am still can.

    To Neurotic,
    I don't understand every word you spout. Sure enough, one more like you coming to Australia is definitely going to give this continent a hell. You don't even appreciate what you have and you think you can appreciate Australia? I don't see eye to eye to your nonsensical logic.
    Oh ya... Keep rambling!
    Your sick breed is as bad as thrash. Don't come to Australia, please for god sake! We have enough of foreign trash like you.

    To CK,
    Yes, that's what I love about this country. The nice people and the space.
    If not for our parents and forefathers, Singapore is nothing!

  12. Citizenship to me would be the ownership of and the ability to contribute to the shaping of the land. Like the house we own versus the hotel. I will do what I can to defend my house but not the hotel. Singapore, for many years now, is more like a hotel than a home. Nice, clean, with superb food and shopping but, at the end of the day, not my home.

  13. 1) If Singapore allows dual-citizenship will you keep it? Why?

    Yes. And I am waiting for this, seriously. Why would I want to keep my Singapore Citizenship ?
    Maybe because I am still somewhat emotionally tied. A place where I was born, and a place where my parents and friends are still living. Their well-being is important to me.

    Another reason would probably be me trying to keep a "plan b". Though it is becoming a worse option for me... Since I am already in AU for 5 years, if I cannot survive here, it means I have to go back home and face worse employment scenario (now that I am over 40).. and live with my parents..

    It is nice to take out my CPF. But I am not ready to explain to everyone asking "why?". A few people are probably entitled to it, but I guess most people who will ask are not. Also, emotional feelings are hard to justify.

    2) If you have no money in the CPF, will you bo dai bo ji renounce your Singapore citizenship? Why?

    No. All the same reasons.

    3) Does your red passport really mean cashcard or does it has a little Stand up for Singapore for you?
    Nothing for me, really. There is still this "doubt" in my mind, that if I give up my Singapore passport, that the government will black list me, and make things difficult for me if I need to travel to Singapore for work, etc...

    Maybe it is just my paranoia... Maybe not.. Like they said, just because I am paranoid, doesn't mean someone is not out there trying to do me in.

  14. Thank you for asking these very interesting questions. These very same questions are also on my mind since I will be eligible to apply for Canadian citizenship soon.

    1) If Singapore allows dual-citizenship will you keep it? Why?

    It's hard to say -- I think if I have a family and children here (in Canada), then my decision would be made. Right now, my blood family is still in Singapore, and my Canadian "family" is, at best, a works-in-progress.

    That said, the odds are stacked against Singapore given that:
    (a) the Singapore that I grew up with and love no longer exists;
    (b) the current Singapore policies and its policy trends mean that citizens like me are "disposable"; and
    (c) the current Canada policies and its policy trends seem to value someone like me.

    2) If you have no money in the CPF, will you bo dai bo ji renounce your Singapore citizenship? Why?

    Undecided but it is still a possibility some time down the road, because I like to keep my life simple and pay my dues -- having dual citizenship means having to keep track of taxes due to each country, etc.

    For me, without the CPF money at stake, then the time pressure will be taken off. One major advantage of renouncing Singapore citizenship is to take out the CPF and use it to finance re-building my life in Canada. To put it another way, if you strike AU$100million lottery today, will you still renounce your Singapore citizenship?

    3) Does your red passport really mean cashcard or does it has a little Stand up for Singapore for you?

    A bit of both. But the "Stand-up For Singapore" factor is fading with policy decisions going in a certain direction (decided by the men-in-white) and with each year I'm away from the country. I am aware that the longer that I'm away, my feelings about Singapore is based on a past that may no longer be valid.

    IMHO, there is no right answer. Migration brings along a string of difficult decisions. From my childhood to my early adulthood, if a soothsayer had told me, "One day you will be thinking about giving up your Singapore citizenship"; I would have rebuffed him/her, "Bullshit! I would gladly take-up arms to fight for my country should war come, despite my petite physical size and health limitations." Yet, here I am now, mulling about the very questions that you posted on this blog entry. My only conclusion is "life is fickle" and "expect changes".

  15. Here's a related and interesting article from TR:


    There is a collective bad faith in Singapore about National Service and foreigners. There are two divergent propositions to consider.


    1: NS is a patriotic duty


    2: NS is a transactional requirement

    Regarding the first proposition, we like to convince ourselves that the compulsory two-year stint in the SAF is noble and maybe even selfless, ignoring (or more likely, hiding to ourselves) the fact that most of us would never do it if not for being forced. The only way such an extensive invasion of one’s rights can be validated is if one accepts that a government is justified in robbing an individual of his rights for a collective vision (security, nationalism) it is somehow better able to glean for us than we can for ourselves. If so, one’s patriotism is well-founded and foreigners need not come into the NS picture at all; NS is a Singaporean’s duty, unique to the relationship between him and his chosen (in terms of accepting his bondage as necessary) government, that is done wilfully, selflessly and deferentially.

    If not, one has to accept that NS is merely a transactional requirement. This second proposition is true as far as we see NS as term limits on our freedom that have to be satisfied to continue living and working in Singapore and avoid being imprisoned. If so, one is very much justified in wanting foreigners to do National Service like us; it is the price one has to pay to reap the economic spoils in Singapore. If not, and we cling to some subjective notion about Singaporean-ness and nationalism of NS, we have to ask ourselves how Singaporean can National Service be if foreigners are serving it?

    It is quite apparent in discussions about NS and foreigners that most of the grievances aired by Singaporeans are articulated along the lines of the second proposition. We should very well accept, then, that wanting foreigners to do NS does not come from any patriotic sentiment, but, rather, comes from a contractual state of mind; “they have not fulfilled the terms of the Singaporean economic bargain like we have, and must do so, if not we will lose out.” National Service is played out as a zero-sum game.

    We do not want to accept the zero-sum state of affairs because we will be reduced, along with the foreigners, to the state of self-serving, alienated, rootless, economic cogs in a meaningless and inhumane Singapore. We want to somehow square our transactional demands of National Service from foreigners with our patriotic desires because it affords us, however dubiously, a means of differentiating ourselves from the much-reproached foreigners who apparently know too little of our ways and “steal” our jobs. Our bad faith regarding NS is a desperate cry for an identity that has too rarely been sought outside of an invasive government’s dictates.

    In a much publicized incident, during a Ministerial Forum dialog, a National Technical University student by the name of Lim Zi Rui said to a perplexed Senior Minister Goh Chock Tong “I don’t know what I’m defending anymore.”

    Perhaps we never ever truly did in the first place.


  16. Because it means you can go home one day - esp. important if you still have a home in Singapore. I love my flat in Singapore. I love my friends in Singapore. I'm finding myself increasingly becoming tired of my friends in Australia. I keep my passport because I love my country and I want to return one day.

  17. Yau Chiam,

    You are one of the few people I might say have a made an informed decision should you choose to return to Singapore.

    At least you have seen both sides. But do note that Singapore has changed remarkably over the past few years, not necessarily for the better.

    I did not choose where to be born in or to grow up. But I appreciate the choice which my wife gave by getting the Australian PR. For better or worse, Australia will be our home.

    I just hope our CPF is still intact once we are worthy of Australian Citizenship.. If nothing else, I think the last official link with SG is worthy of burning.

    Never mind that people disagree. We only have one life to live. Regret is the saddest thing.

    - S

  18. Singapore is the nation where I experienced childhood in, where my memories are made and held. A country which have transformed into an unrecognizable spot. The cooking lost its interesting flavor, the individuals lost their agreeableness and barely any administration staff that are Singaporeans.

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