Although she was born in China, Dr Zhou Ang, 25, has always felt like a Singaporean, having lived here since she was three.
But whenever she travelled out of the country, she would get a reality check when she had to use the lane for non-Singaporeans at immigration checkpoints.
Said Dr Zhou: "I went to local schools and all my friends treated me as a Singaporean. In fact, I used to think that I was a Singaporean until I went on overseas school trips and had to use a different immigration lane at the airport."
Now, she can use the lane for Singaporeans.
Yesterday, Dr Zhou, a doctor at the National University Hospital, was among 71 Tanjong Pagar residents who became Singapore citizens. They were presented with new identity cards and citizenship certificates at a national citizenship ceremony organised by Tanjong Pagar GRC.
Dr Zhou said: "Becoming a citizen was a natural process for me. It's been a long time coming."
She said she had to work for a year before she could apply for citizenship.
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
Singapore is a place where I have lived for more than 30 years. It was already my home.
MR TEYU CHE CHERN, chief executive of Phillip Futures, on becoming a Singapore citizen.
Another new citizen, Mr You Wee Wee, 33, was also eager to get a Singapore passport so he would not be separated from his wife and two young sons - all Singaporeans - at airport immigration counters.
Mr You came here from Benut in Johor when he was four. "I'm very happy and excited to finally get my pink IC," said Mr You, the director of a biotechnology firm.
The ceremony was held on the 50th floor of The Pinnacle@Duxton.
In a speech at the event, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing said: "To be a Singaporean is not a matter of ancestry per se. To be a Singaporean is a choice. It is also a pledge.
"It may be easy for us to call ourselves Singaporeans when our economy is strong, when our defence is secure, when our society is cohesive and when our leadership and systems are progressive.
"But let us remind ourselves that this may not always be so."
He urged the new citizens to defend Singapore's way of life "beyond race, language, religion, beyond our backgrounds, connections and social status".
At the ceremony, the new citizens sang the National Anthem and recited the Pledge.
Another new citizen, Mr Teyu Che Chern, 43, chief executive of Singapore-based brokerage Phillip Futures, said: "In school, I sang the National Anthem, but this is the first time I'm singing it as a Singaporean. It's a very special feeling."
Mr Teyu moved from the town of Pekan Nanas in Johor to Singapore in 1981, when he was seven, to go to school here. His wife and four children are Singaporeans.
"Singapore is a place where I have lived for more than 30 years. It was already my home," he added.
WATCH THE VIDEO
Minister Chan Chun Sing hands out identity cards and citizenship certificates to new citizens. http://str.sg/4zjf