The Straits Times
Published on Feb 12, 2013

Close 'escape route' of PR spouses


ONE of the key points in the Population White Paper is to take in between 15,000 and 25,000 new citizens each year to halt our citizen population from shrinking because our total fertility rate is way below the replacement rate of 2.1 ("Goal: 15,000-25,000 new citizens a year"; Jan 30).

Over the past few years, as the Government sharpened the distinction between citizens and permanent residents (PRs), I noticed a disturbing trend whereby one spouse would apply for citizenship while the other spouse remains a PR, especially when they are about to start a family, so that they can enjoy benefits such as extended maternity leave, baby bonuses and priority in primary school balloting.

These families regularly travel back to their home country, especially during festive seasons.

I strongly urge the Government to reassess this group of applicants holistically.

Having one spouse remain a PR with no intention of becoming a citizen leads to the conclusion that they are keeping an "escape route" open should Singapore fail.

Though Singapore may have gained more new citizens, the allegiance to Singapore from this cluster of Singaporeans shall be severely tested when the time comes.

Chan Hean Boon