Born and bred here but he is Stateless

This letter was first published in The Straits Times on Sept 27, 2003

It has been more than a month since I stood outside the National Stadium, watching in awe the spectacular display of fireworks at the National Day Parade, feeling very proud to be a part of Singapore.

Well, not exactly a part of Singapore. I was born to Singaporean parents in KK Hospital, but I hold a blue identity card that says 'Nationality: Stateless'.

The reason was that when I registered for my NRIC in primary school, my parents were not legally married. Notwithstanding my stateless status, I was enlisted into the army for national service. My parents subsequently registered their marriage.

When I grew up, I applied for Singapore citizenship several times. On Sept 4, I was informed that my third attempt had failed; no clear reasons were given.

Could it be because I am an ex-drug addict who had been sentenced to prison twice? However, that was five years ago. By the grace of God, I am now free from the clutches of drugs. And is not the Prisons Department always stressing 'renew, rehab, restart'?

Could it be because of my economic contribution? The last time I was told that my income had to be of a certain level before I should consider reapplying. However, it wasn't because I did not want to work - I could not find a job.

I am now an operations supervisor with a car-grooming company, drawing an income of more than $1,000. So what is an acceptable income level?

I am not a foreigner applying to become a citizen, but a true-blue Singaporean, born and bred here. Why am I denied the privilege of being a Singapore citizen time and again?

BARNABAS LIM AH HUAT