What makes a Singaporean

Am I Singaporean enough?

The recent political rally speeches made me reflect on what it means to be Singaporean.

This year, my family and I celebrate our "silver jubilee" anniversary in our adopted home.

I recited the Pledge almost daily during my school days, took part in a National Day Parade as a performer and sang Home many times over.

I grew up with mascots such as Singa the Courtesy Lion and Sharity Elephant.

I work in Singapore and I am married to a born-and-bred Singaporean.

Despite my dedication to this tiny island-nation for the past 2-1/2 decades, I still occasionally get "you're not local" remarks from people when they learn that I was not born here.

Being "local" should be defined by the following criteria:

• Length of time spent here: Some countries, such as Australia, require their permanent residents (PRs) to spend a stipulated amount of time living there, but we do not have such rules here.

Singapore PRs and naturalised Singaporeans are not obliged to live here, yet they enjoy the same benefits of Singaporeans who contribute to this nation. Why should these fair-weather friends be given the same privileges as the filial sons and daughters of the land?

• Assimilation into the local community: If anyone wants to become a "citizen", he or she should make an effort to understand the practices and culture of the host nation, and embrace them wholeheartedly.

These new citizens should strive to make friends with locally born Singaporeans, and get to know their way of life. I think it is not healthy when the new citizens do not mix with the locals, or worse, make disparaging comments about local customs.

• Contribution to the welfare of locals: I have volunteered for five years to help wayward youths, and another three as a grassroots leader, until family commitments took priority.

Contributing my time to the welfare of fellow citizens made me feel more deeply Singaporean as I connected with many on a personal level. It also helped me to understand the sentiments and concerns of those who were born and bred here. Anyone who is committed to becoming a Singaporean should do the same.

I see myself as a "local" in many ways. I went to the polls with similar pride and gripes as other voters.

I look forward to continuing to help build a Singapore that we can be even more proud of.

Ada Lim (Mrs)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2015, with the headline 'What makes a Singaporean'. Print Edition | Subscribe