Take individual circumstances into account in PR applications

Mr Francis Cheng raised some interesting points about how Singapore permanent residency and citizenship should be defined by factors such as the period the person had lived in Singapore, tax records and so on (PR, citizenship should not be defined by fees and papers alone; April 18).

His points are valid but should be weighed against individual circumstances as well.Take for instance, an individual who is already a Singapore PR but who has been physically absent from Singapore for practically the whole of the last five years. She has no tax records and owns no property in Singapore.

But the individual may have been absent for so long because she was with her spouse who is based outside of Singapore for work.

The statistics shared by Mr Cheng says it all: The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority vigorously reviews all applications.

The authorities should take a measured approach, when it comes to Singapore PRs who have all but disappeared, by reaching out to them and meeting them face to face to understand their circumstances and to help them return to Singapore.

Singapore was built on immigration after all.

With the unabating global fight for talent, the authorities should deploy such resources as are necessary to retain our Singapore PR talents and to bring home any long-term absentees.

Woon Wee Min

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'Take individual circumstances into account in PR applications'. Print Edition | Subscribe