Consider probationary citizenship

Singapore citizenship must be earned, in order to be appreciated and valued ("Cultivating in new citizens a heart for S'pore"; Feb 12).

The current basic requirement (being at least 21 years of age and having permanent residency of at least two years) to qualify for Singapore citizenship is not stringent enough.

Potential new citizens must demonstrate that they can and have contributed towards the well-being of Singapore - socially and economically.

They should, most importantly, demonstrate loyalty.

While trying to compensate for Singapore's low birth rate, we must not forsake quality for quantity.

New citizens must not be a potential burden to us.

They should not have misaligned political agendas and have a misplaced sense of loyalty.

We should consider introducing a new probationary citizenship scheme (PCS) to ensure that new citizens have the qualities that are beneficial to Singapore.

The PCS provides an interim period, which can be from two to 10 years, for the authorities to assess a person's worthiness for full, permanent citizenship.

With the PCS, applicants will still be able to enjoy the privileges accorded to Singapore citizens.

The difference is that during the probationary period, the authorities have the right to downgrade their status to permanent residency and even revoke their citizenship, if the situation warrants it.

Singapore permanent residents and foreigners hoping to become Singapore citizens are mostly doing so out of their own self-interest.

They have chosen to be Singapore citizens because Singapore offers a much better environment for them and their children, compared with their home countries.

The Singapore citizenship is internationally and widely valued. It must be earned, and the PCS may help to ensure this.

Tony Lim Thiam Poh