We, the new citizens of Singapore

Two families were among the 149 people who became new citizens yesterday. They are (from far left) the Dimalantas - Allen; his mother Michelle Anne Dimalanta; sister Anne; and father Alvin Paras Dimalanta - and the Lams - Ms Josephine Go, who is Sing
Two families were among the 149 people who became new citizens yesterday. They are (from far left) the Dimalantas - Allen; his mother Michelle Anne Dimalanta; sister Anne; and father Alvin Paras Dimalanta - and the Lams - Ms Josephine Go, who is Singaporean by birth; her husband Lam Chin Chong; son Joel; and daughter Jannah.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

149 people receive citizenship certificates from PM Lee in annual ceremony

The Dimalanta family have long called Singapore home since arriving here from the Philippines, but they took their commitment to a new level yesterday when they became citizens.

Mr Alvin Paras Dimalanta, 45, his wife and their two children took the Pledge, sang the National Anthem and received their pink identity cards.

Mr Dimalanta, who is the regional head of IT systems operations at a Dutch bank here, said: "It gives a different meaning now when someone you do not know calls you 'uncle' or 'auntie'.

"It's a new chapter and a choice and commitment that we have made to make Singapore our today and also tomorrow."

The family have keenly embraced one key Singaporean trait - they are passionate about food, including local favourites like oyster omelette and laksa.

Mr Dimalanta and his wife Michelle Anne, 42, came here 20 years ago and became permanent residents in 2005.

Their children Anne, 19, and Allen, 15, have studied here since kindergarten.

CONTRIBUTING TO SINGAPORE STORY

As you craft your life story, deepen your roots here and participate in our community life, you will contribute your bit to the Singapore story too... That's how Singapore will progress. Not just integrating new arrivals, but also evolving with you, absorbing some of your cultures and experiences, and enriching our unique Singaporean identity.

PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG, addressing new citizens.

 
 

They were among 149 people who received citizenship certificates from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the annual National Citizenship Ceremony yesterday.

PM Lee said it was especially significant for them to receive citizenship in Singapore's bicentennial year, when the country is reflecting on its history and what it means to be Singaporean.

"Like you, all our ancestors came from distant lands. Eventually, they made the same fateful decision, as you have, to sink roots here and make Singapore their home," he noted.

PM Lee told those present at the ceremony held at ITE College Central in Ang Mo Kio that taking up citizenship is a deep, personal commitment.

He quoted Singapore's first foreign minister, Mr S. Rajaratnam, saying: "Being a Singaporean is not a matter of ancestry. It is conviction and choice."

PM Lee added: "In fact, many of you have already become very Singaporean at heart. All of you have lived, worked or studied here for years and, in some cases, even started your families here."

He said that the new citizens have integrated into Singapore society, adapted to its culture and learnt how to get along with neighbours, classmates, colleagues and friends.

At the same time, they have brought their experiences, skills, perspectives and values here.

"As you craft your life story, deepen your roots here and participate in our community life, you will contribute your bit to the Singapore story too," he noted.

"That's how Singapore will progress. Not just integrating new arrivals, but also evolving with you, absorbing some of your cultures and experiences, and enriching our unique Singaporean identity."

The Lam family from Malaysia also became citizens yesterday.

Mr Lam Chin Chong, 57, chief financial officer of a publicly listed company, met Singaporean Josephine Go, 56, in Hong Kong in 1993 when she was a personal assistant to the chief executive of a clothing company.

They married there the following year.

The family spent time in Britain and Vietnam before they settled down in Singapore. The couple have two children - Joel, 20, and Jannah, 25.

Ms Go said: "We look forward to contributing more, now that my family are all Singaporeans.

"It's easier for us to move on as a family, without having to worry about things like whether the children are happy in one place."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 01, 2019, with the headline 'We, the new citizens of Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe