Forum: Guidance needed on who can enter Singapore during this period

Many people have shared with me stories of how immigration restrictions introduced by the Government in March have affected them (Stranded overseas, foreigners await return, June 17).

This followed an article I published in the Law Gazette on the matter.

Some of these people were abruptly separated from family members who were unable to obtain approval to re-enter Singapore.

Others have had to incur significant expenses overseas as they were unable to return to their existing jobs and accommodation in Singapore.

Their anxieties were compounded by the lack of certainty surrounding the criteria for entry approval and the timeframe for the lifting of the restrictions.

Having heard their voices, I wish to make two suggestions that would provide greater clarity for potential applicants seeking to enter Singapore and enhance legal certainty for businesses as our economy reopens.

First, I suggest that more guidance be provided on the following:

  • The categories of applicants who will be granted priority for entry.
  • Criteria for determining whether approval will be granted.
  • Rationale behind these criteria.
  • How, and on what grounds, an applicant can appeal against a decision.

Second, I urge the Government to consider granting priority for re-entry to applicants who are family members of all categories of pass holders based in Singapore.

Their support may be vital to the physical, mental and emotional well-being of pass holders.

The Ministry of Health has to date indicated only that long-term pass holders may be allowed to re-enter Singapore (More long-term pass holders can return, but need prior approval, June 16).

From a broader perspective, legal certainty is integral to upholding the rule of law, which grounds investor confidence and anchors Singapore's economic success.

Some businesses have already experienced substantial disruptions resulting from the absence of their foreign employees.

These businesses will invariably benefit from this greater certainty regarding the immigration restrictions. This will, in turn, enhance businesses' ability to make interim and future plans, which will be an important step towards ensuring our continued economic growth and stability.

Leo Zhi Wei