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Thursday January 18th 2018

Should we use national service to convert foreigners into citizens?


I didn’t expect the response to an article recently posted by a Burmese permanent resident to be so robust and fiery.

We must have received close to 150 comments on the  two articles featuring mainly the young Burmese  displeasure with the xenophobic sentiments brewing here.

To his credit, the Burmese  is straight talking, not afraid to step on some big toes and unpleasantly frank.

If you criticised him, he will make sure that you have it ten times back!

I have always felt that our foreigner friends are make of sterner stuff due to the  harsh upbringing in their third world environment and their will to survive is certainly stronger than us locals.

I have to admit that our local youngsters need to learn a thing or two about handling hardship from our foreigner friends.

However, does this mean that Simon has the right to criticise us though he has always  emphasized that he is merely retaliating and not initiating anything critical towards our local people.

We have always advocate  a mutual two-way respect for one another  even though the person is  a foreigner residing and working in our midst.

Transitioning also wants to reiterate here  that we are not anti-foreigner in nature though some of our campaigns have given that impression.

We merely want to bring to attention some of the adverse consequences of the huge foreign influx experienced by our local PMETs.

On another note, Transitioning has all along wanted to provide another platform for our foreign friends to speak their mind on issues that matter to them but it is tough to get them on board -  perhaps they are afraid of the aftermath once they are engaged in a hostile online tiff.

Some outspoken foreigners who chided Singaporeans online previously have faced strong rebuttals from netizens and eventually the law came in to remove the irritant.

So it is a pleasant surprise to see a young foreigner coming in so strongly with his hard-hitting views on the current xenophobic sentiments.

A few months ago we also received an email from a Indian IT manager who complained about work place bullying and that was the only interaction we have with our one over million foreign contingent.

In our online interview with him, he has indicated that he is not keen to convert to citizenship due mainly to the xenophobic sentiments here:-

Transitioning:  Will  you take up citizenship and sink your roots into Singapore?

Kumar: Never. The way new citizens have been treated here, never in my dreams also.

We have always hope that if there is the possibility of an online exchange between foreigners and local Singaporeans it will be  two-way and cordial as I guess Singaporeans also want to know how the otherside feels.

However, I know that the  exchange –  if it happens - will never be as cordial as I wish it would have as the topic is emotional and touches on the livelihood of both the locals and foreigners living among us.

Simon,  the 23-year-old diploma Burmese,  was also pursuing a personal vendetta here as he was unhappy that he couldn’t receive his citizenship after serving out his national service liability recently and complained that maybe the authorities are concerned with the anti-foreign sentiments developing  from our website.

It used to be the case that once you complete NS as a PR you would be given citizenship.
 But now it has changed. 
This could also  due to  many of your friends and fans  complaining too much about FTs and PRs – so this could be a new measure by ICA to stem the flow of PRs getting citizenship. 
This is why I asked you to be careful of what you are spreading. Your complaints and grumblings can affect people like us who have done everything that you locals have done but are now left in this situation. Tell me if I have the right to be angry about this or not?
Right now in Singapore,  if you are a male permanent resident before age 21 years old, you can serve out our national service and applies for citizenship.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has also recently stated in Parliament that less than 2% of foreigners who have completed their national service below the age of 21 years old are denied citizenship rights.
Permanent residents  age above 21 years old have to submit their application base on their own rights and merits later on and could not do so together with their family members. 
There were many comments speculating that perhaps Simon has messed up during his national service stint so much so that  his S1 army department didn’t submit his citizenship application or  they have given him a bad assessment rendering his citizenship application null and void.
The question to ask  is should  permanent residents below the age of 21 years old be able to receive citizenship by merely serving out our 24-months national service?
Local Singaporeans must be apprehensive if such converted citizens, with so much personal vested interest,  be able to defend our country  sacrificially during a war-like situation or  will they pack their bags and leave?
Its clear that foreigner males below age 21 years old who want to serve national service has the ultimate intention to attain our coveted citizenship.
I am sure that once the government scraps this entitlement, no foreigner males  in their right mind will want to sacrifice two years of their youth for the country.
So if our foreign friends harbour such self-centred thoughts regarding national service, do we still have the peace of mind to entrust the country’s security to this group of foreigners?
Moreover, many foreigner males  from Malaysia and Indonesia have settled permanently in Singapore all this while and became citizens after serving national service – these countries are also the most probable aggressors when there is a war-like situation.
So can we still count on them to defend us if they were born from the aggressor country but became   citizens after serving national service?
Simon has actually provided us a snapshot of this scenario from one of his many comments that peppered the first article:-
If you label ciitzenship as a “burden” maybe you don’t deserve to be one? The reason I am applying for citizenship here is that I feel that I have grown up here and that this is the country which I have invested so much of my time in. Although I will never look down or forget my home country, the fact of the matter is that this is where everything I care about is. Having left my country at a very young age, I have most of my friends here. And most of my memories are of this country. Although I will visit my home country occasionally, I know I will settle down here. I don’t see citizenship as a burden. But you who is already a citizen feels that it is. Just goes to show you are not content with the advantages that you have over others. You just want more and more. Oh yes, I will continue to apply for citizenship but I will also continue to defend my own people and other foreigners who have been wrongly accused and insulted. (Some, not all) Its not that I am biased to my own people. I want everyone to be respected as human beings not be insulted just for their nationality. And if you think that’s wrong then that’s your problem, not mine.
Nevertheless, many foreigners who have resettled in our country since young have fond memories of Singapore  as they have grown up here and more importantly feel  rooted in – compared to those who are being parachuted in recently with the lure of permanent residencies and citizenships.
I am unsure why Simon did not receive his citizenship after serving national service - he has said that the take-over clerk didn’t submit his application for him three months prior to his ROD.
Nobody will know the truth here but one thing is certain - Simon  still wants to be a citizen of this country as firstly his family is here and secondly this country provides ample opportunities for his future compared to his birth country Myarmar.
However, are these reasons plus the fact that he has served two years of  national service sufficient grounds for him to be granted citizenship?
More significantly, Simon has revealed that he still may not have integrated well  even though he has stayed here for more than a decade.
There is still the us-versus-them mentality within him and he subsequently drew much criticism by criticising our Singlish – our national language however crude it may be.
Let’s face it – no foreigner will be able to integrate 100% into another culture  however long he has stayed in the country but the important question to ask is – if the person is so critical of the local people,  should we accept him as a citizen of our country just because he has served national service?
The frightening thing about the whole Simon saga is – there may be many Simon’s  running around as converted citizens but never really harbouring any common sentiments together with  the local population.
And finally, personally speaking, I won’t entrust the security of our country to our foreign friends as there is too much personal vested interest within them to sacrifice for our country during  a war-like situation.
Thus, I will ask the government to re-consider using national service as one way for foreigners to convert as  citizens here – the natioanl defence risks are just too high.
Written by: Gilbert Goh 
Number of View: 5088

Reader Feedback

14 Responses to “Should we use national service to convert foreigners into citizens?”

  1. jj@39 says:

    First of all, Simon also not interested to serve his own country, which is Burma. Then how much can we trust him that he will really become one of us? Who knows maybe oneday he will decided to leave & opt for better living in Burma or other country? He already said it is his parents who chosen Singapore, not him. He doesn’t has a choice then.

    Besides the reasons that he received edu here, has already served NS, all his family members are already converted to citizenship. What is his real motive for wanted the citizenship so badly? My wild guess is he doesn’t want to be deported back to Burma after losing his SPR if oneday he gets into trouble. Well, who knows maybe he will manage to become some rich bizman or army general if he decided to return to Burma or after deported back by ICA.

    Although Simon kept telling us that his army S1 dept didn’t do their job well or they told him this or that. Then he couldn’t get his citizenship. But how many of us here will believe his side of story?

    Now he already started insulting us, vent his anger on us, telling us how to behave ourselves just bcoz he couldn’t get citizenship and it is our fault. So will he change for better after he obtains the citizenship?

    Just because someone convert to citizenship & does that means he/she is loyal to S’pore?

  2. sgcynic says:

    “The question to ask is should permanent residents below the age of 21 years old be able to receive citizenship by merely serving out our 24-months national service?”

    This begs the question “why force foreigners to do NS if you are not going to confer them citizenship?”. Do not put the cart before the horse.

    • jj@39 says:

      Why must we force these young foreigners to serve NS?
      Can we do away the NS requirement for them?
      Any side effect or consequences?
      Why must we confer them citizenship after they served NS?
      Who promise them citizenship after they have served NS?

      If we can kill the cause then we won’t have the effect.

  3. oute says:

    Right, why dont we let all the people into Singapore.

    Let all of them come in lah.

  4. Sgcynic says:

    This is not an either or scenario where policy makers chose between two extreme options. Do not oversimplify and pose false dilemmas.

  5. manson says:

    Simon can be a Singaporean after staying here since child. T o expect him to be loyal to Singapore that will be too much too soon. Even born here Singaporean are not alway loyal. Only Simon’s childrean maybe loyal citizen oneday. Anyway war won’t break out nowaday between Singapore and other country. That why it hard to prove loyalty.

  6. jj@39 says:

    PAP leaders like to call S’poreans that left S’pore for other greener pastures as quitters. They welcome foreigners to become PR & citizenship as this will help to increase population, something which they believe will help S’pore grows better.

    Whether can Simon gets his citizenship depends on ICA’s decision. Bcoz there is no war or any kind of emergency situation so it’s hard to prove one’s loyalty to S’pore. Anyone here feel that Eduardo Saverin is loyal to S’pore?

    Another question is can Simon integrate well into S’pore unique society? To him, he may feel that he can integrate & mingle well with the locals but if we look at his comments & replies, that actually shed some light on this.

    To stop using national service as one way for foreigners with PR to convert as citizens here might make some citizens or ‘old’ PRs feel unhappy too.

    I feel that the better way is to stop issuing PR to foreigners to ease confusion & conflict.

  7. OnlyHuman says:

    Humans can be very irrational when forced into corners and fighting for their self interest. Singaporeans are human. Foreigners are human. The Singapore Government, in its overzealous mandate to boost GDP growth at all costs (especially in a climate where the world economy was in turmoil), pitted one set of humans against the other.

    Our former prime minister and and minister mentor said it all when he expressed the fact that younger Singaporeans had become too soft due to their good childhood. He already laid the cards on the table then: make Singaporeans fight to survive, remove some of the privileges they have begun to take for granted; put some fighting spirit into them.

    And so begain the kill-two-birds-with-one-stone policy of opening the floodgates to foreigners. The policy wasn’t as simple as opening the floodgates though. It probably entailed minimisation of infrastructural investment to let Singaporeans and existing residents FEEL the impact of overcrowding. It also entailed initiatives to coerce Singaporeans to move out of the country to force them to seek greener pastures elsewhere. Secret negotiations to help China ease their mounting unemployment problems in order to secure business success with them, were probably high on the agenda too.

    Under the masterful guise of engaging free-market forces to set an equilibrium naturally, the PAP had every intention (good or bad, only the masterminds know) to let things deterioriate to the point of boiling, so that they can come out smelling like roses when they deem it time to placate the angry electorate. For, what better way to make citizens treasure what they had taken for granted, than by taking it away and then giving it back in small measures???

    Granted, many of their intentions were carried way too far without accounting for the horrifying power of social media. Things boiled over way too fast, and the PAP were probably also complacent after weathering the 2008 global recession so well. Their complacence prior to the start of the 2011GE really showed that they didn’t know what hit them during the rallies. Their lethal reactions (in the form of Live And Repent! and CT Goh’s hopeless antics with his young “prodigy” further knocked the message into their elitist skulls.

    But the damage that they engineered over more than 10 years doesn’t just go away with stricter PR and citzenship policies. Just as older Singaporeans in the 80s had started to take the opportunities here for granted (along with their next generation which was overpampered), the generous liberal immigration policies had become enshrined in every fibre of society here.

    Foreigners have over the years started to take the easy red carpet as a given, and when it was abruptly pulled from under the feet of their friends, families and wannabe migrants, of course they will be bitter. It’s natural and human. Companies here struggling to survive due to the extreme high rentals caused by the so-called meritocratic system here (which is just a euphemism for promoting unfettered greed, elitism, cronyism and materialism) were happily employing cheaper, younger, hungrier foreign staff until the carpet was also whisked from under their feet. By now, three generations of bosses, CEOs, MDs, HR directors and professionals have taken for granted that younger, cheaper foreigners are better. Now we know why local workers over 35 are being sidelined in job applications. This sticky mindset won’t go away anytime so soon after a 10 year gestation period facilitated by the PAP and the Chief Mastermind.

    In the interim, an artificial war has broken out between the jaded foreign talent and the bitter native-born Singaporeans. A war engineered inadvertently by the government in its growth-at-all-cost campaign. Let’s be fully aware that we should redirect our combative energies at the source of the problem, and not at the casualties. If the warring factions kill each other, the only party the emerges victorious is still the PAP, which happily goes on its merry way to clean up the debris and starts afresh with its newfound “inclusive” conscience.

    • jj@39 says:

      To me this is conspiracy theory but it is well written. I do enjoyed reading it.

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  8. butwhat says:

    but what about abolishing NS ?

    that would solve almost all he problems in Sg.

    we would then have real FT in Sg instead of the lousy ones who having nothing better to do with their young life than throwing it away with 2 years in the army.

    • jj@39 says:

      I’m in favour of all these abolishing NS; reduce NS duration; stop converting foreigners to PR & citizens; stop forcing PR to do NS; cut defence budget; reduce SAF troop numbers etc plans. But PAP won’t agree to these.

      Small country like S’pore doesn’t need to upkeep huge armed forces. The money allocated for defence budget can be allocate for better usages, it can help a lot of poor & needy. PAP doesn’t has to raise taxes in order to help the poor & needy.

      Just take a look at those high salaries & benefits enjoyed by those high ranking govt officals. They are very well fed while many of us here suffered bitterly.

      • MALE Singaporean DOCTOR ஜனில் புதுச்சேரி, Professionalism Does NOT Equate With Patriotism says says:

        Anyway, according to the world’s HIGHE$T paid minister of law and FOREIGN AFFAIRS, காசிவிஸ்வநாதன் (கே) சண்முகம், stinkapore is only a city and NOT a country.

        Do NOT start me going what happens if a stinkaporean couple has a disproportionately HIGH number of MALE children all born with solely the nationality of a “city, not country” amid the PLUMMETING birth rates.

        I am sure MALE stinkaporean larry medina, like MALE stinkaporean compatriot madhupati singhania, cares about the abbreviations “NSF” and “NSman/men” as much as HIS MALE stinkaporean compatriot robert viswanathan (v.)

        To all posters, after reading, you may toss – or rather, KICK – MALE Singaporean egmar gonçalves into the menagerie.

        By the way, considering where that FOOTBALLER is NOW, I am sure you are just as aware that, considering where HE was born, eduardo luiz p. saverin has a BENTLEY.

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