Thursday, August 9, 2012

We, The 'People' of Singapore - Mid-Life Identity Crisis?

Disclaimer: I am in no way trying to create controversy with this article. I speak only from the heart, openly and honestly.

As we celebrate another National Day and NDP (National Day Parade) in Singapore, we once again open our hearts and souls to this wonderful country.

And I ponder once again, about the possiblity of dual citizenship...

For the first time in our many years of calling Singapore home, Sammi and I were fortunate enough to have been able to attend in person at the NDP preview (held on 4th August), and to celebrate in the pride of the nation along with around 27,000 Singaporeans.

We have always watched the parade on television, but the experience of the comfort of our own lounge room absolutely pales in comparison to actually being there and soaking up the atmosphere of the moment... I feel that I am still trying to rub the goosebumps off my arms almost a week after the event!!

Now here's the strange thing - many people my age might be preparing for what is commonly known as a 'mid-life' crisis. However, I think I'm undergoing what might be best referred to as a potential 'identity' crisis.

You see, Singapore is our home and she has been very good to us. We are proud to live and be accepted here.

But I'm wondering - is this enough?

The things that we do every day, the way we contribute to society and genuinely love our neighbours, the allegiance that we have undertaken in our actions and our hearts... I'm wondering, is it possible to hold 'allegiance' to more than one country? More over, is it acceptable to 'pledge allegiance' to more than one country?

The reason I ask, is that when it comes time to sing the national anthem of Singapore, 'Majulah Singapura' (Onward Sigapore), we do so with heads held high and an unmistakable sense of pride in our home and the nation.

When it comes time for the nation to recite the 'Pledge', we do so... however, we have to omit a few words - I can not hold my hand on my heart and call myself a 'Citizen of Singapore' - because I am not. My passport is not that of a Singaporean.

But I will continue to say the pledge - Why? Because all of the things I am pledging for (alongside my friends and neighbours) are things that I firmly believe and agree to abide by. I am living them everyday - this I can say, with my hand on my heart... regardless of the colour of my passport.

It is common knowledge that holding a 'dual citizenhip' is not something that Singapore will allow. I understand all of the reasoning behind this, but I honestly believe that in some cases, exceptions could (and should) be made.

The problem I have, is that if I applied to become a citizen of Singapore, Australia would have no problems at all if I wanted to take up dual citizenhip. However, to be accepted as a citizen of Singapore, I would be required to take an 'Oath of Renunciation, Allegiance and Loyalty' - effectively, I would need to renounce my Australian citizenhip... or in other words, I would be required to renounce my heritage, the home where I grew up, the history that made me the person I am today, my family, my friends... how could I possibly turn my back on the country of my birth?

In my culture, such a renunciation would be completely frowned upon and unforgivable - I would be disowned by the people I love.

I am kind of hoping that among the thousands of people reading my blog, there may just be one person with some level of influence to take my request to the powers that be... there are some people, that would absolutely love to take up Singapore citizenhip, but due to the requirement for renunication of their country of heritage, just cannot morally bring themselves to do so... this does not make us any less dedicated to the success and growth of our nation, or what we are pledging for on National Day.

I will continue to pledge, but may just quietly substitute the word 'citizens' with 'people'.

To those in authority - please, please reconsider the option of dual citizenship for certain legitimate cases.... the literal definition of 'allegiance', is "Loyalty or the obligation of loyalty, as to a nation, sovereign, or cause"... does it really mean that it can only be to one nation or cause?

Interestingly and on a side note, Jaime had his usual National Day celebrations at his kindergarten the other day - it would not even occur to him that as he sings the anthem and then proudly recites the pledge alongside all of his class mates, that he is making the statement that he is a citizen... when in fact he is a permanent resident - as far as he is concerned, he was born here and is Singaporean... he is too young to understand otherwise - I'm sure such allegiances and pride will stay with him right up until he performs his national service and is then given the option himself to become a citizen - if he renounces his Australian allegiance first.

For more pictures of our experience at the NDP 2012 preview, Click Here.

Below, is a video I took of the 'Majulah Moment' - the fly past of the Singapore Flag to the background of 'Majulah Singapura' - here come those Goose Bumps again :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Pete,

I'm an Aussie too who spent a number of years in Singapore. I'm out now. Singapore is not as good as it seems. Look deeper beyond the surface and you will know what I mean.

You will regret if you renounce your Aussie citizenship.

Take care.

leewsdaniel said...

Hi Pete,

As a Singaporean who has lived in Melbourne for 8 years, I agree with your views. Just as one can love a life partner and love one's parents, the same goes for dual citizenship.

I would take up the Aust citizenship if I could, but my plans preclude me from doing so.

7-8 said...

What are you going to call yourself if and when you get that dual citizenship? The precedence shouldn't matter so Sinkie - Aussie Pete or Aussie - Sinkie Pete doesn't make a difference.

Andrew Miler said...

Very much wondering the same thing -- my wife is from Singapore and frankly if she and I could do dual citizenship there's a much higher chance we'd move there. If she leaves US now, she loses her green card which is very tedious to get back.

Ironically, not allowing dual citizenship for Singaporeans makes it much less likely we can move back.