Researchers had asked this question involving 1001 Singapore-born citizens and 1000 foreign-born naturalised citizens. The results? 69% of Singapore-born citizens agreed that it was a key factor that determined “Singaporeaness” whereas only 43% of foreign-born naturalised citizens surveyed agreed. The study also found that citizens in the study who were less receptive and inclusive are better educated, and live in bigger and more expensive housing.
At a parent’s point of view, I truly understand why foreign-born naturalised citizens do not want their sons to go through the hardship of National Service (especially the higher educated and richer ones) but then again, I believed Singapore-born citizens also do not want the same for their sons. But Singapore-born citizens do not have a choice because NS is mandatory to all men unless they are proven to be unfit medically. So why do foreign-born naturalised citizens have the privilege to be exempted from NS (unfair)?
I am not sure how many new immigrants are converted to citizens every year but assuming that the figure is quite significant (since the influx of immigrants are in millions over these years), it seem insufficient and imbalance to have just Singapore-born citizens’ sons to serve NS, protect our country and people? Don’t forget they have to protect the additional foreign-born naturalised citizens and their sons too.
By exempting from NS, it also means the foreign-born naturalised citizens’ sons are able to start their tertiary education and work life earlier as compared to our Singapore-born citizens’ sons who have to serve NS for two years. Our Singapore-born citizens’ sons lose their competitiveness against the foreign-born citizens’ sons (as they are lagging behind) because they took up the duty to protect our country and people (which includes the foreign-born naturalised citizens)! Isn’t this ironic?
So in my opinion, if it is mandatory for Singapore-born citizens’ sons to serve NS, the same should apply to foreign-born naturalised citizens’ sons as they are also Singaporeans (in substance) who have a duty to protect the country and it’s people (including their own family here in Singapore).
How do we make this workable?
It is not compulsory now for foreign-born naturalised citizens to convert their young children into Singapore citizens (if they were born overseas before their parents became Singapore citizens). Maybe we should have this criteria included when parents want to take up Singapore citizenship. We can make this criteria compulsory for children below 18 years old who are not of a legal age yet and have relocated to Singapore together with their parents. Anyway, these children who will be brought up and educated in Singapore should feel more Singaporean than being a citizen of the country they are born in? These foreign-born naturalised citizens’ sons who became Singapore citizens together with their parents will then have to serve NS together with our Singapore-born citizens’ sons.
Some immigrants may wait till their sons pass 18 years of age (to avoid having to serve NS) before taking up Singapore citizenship but this will also mean they do not enjoy the benefits of holding a Singapore citizenship earlier. It’s a lose-lose situation here so I believe no one will want to do this.
PRs are not mentioned here because they still hold a foreign citizenship and therefore not considered Singapore citizens, and PRs do not enjoy the same benefits as Singapore citizens. It will be difficult to enforce mandatory NS on PRs since they can easily give up their PR status and return to the country where they hold citizenship. But it is not easy to renounce existing citizenship and apply for a new citizenship elsewhere. So there must be a distinguished difference between the benefits of a holding PR and a Singapore citizenship to attract more immigrants to take up citizenships.