DPM Teo’s claim that allowing dual citizenship will “dilute” commitment to our nation may make some sort of sense on its own. It is obvious that any person with divided loyalties will have divided commitment.
However, seen in the light of the big picture, reality does begin to poke holes in Teo’s logic. First, the fact that our Government allows, nay, demands that second-generation PR males do NS refutes Teo’s statement that, “As Singaporeans, we count on one another to be loyal and if need be, to defend Singapore and fellow Singaporeans in our hour of need.” If we have asked those who have a lesser commitment (PRs) to take up arms in our defence, then any argument about “diluted commitment” begins to ring hollow.
Mind you, I am not saying that PRs are not committed. I have served alongside a few, and if anything, they are proof that having divided citizenship (in their case NO CITIZENSHIP) is not the same as lacking commitment. If PRs can be this committed, dual citizens will probably be even more committed. If the government thinks that PRs are not committed (in case they quote some figure about 1/3 of PRs ducking NS), then the real question is: why are PRs doing NS?
Also, he made this comment only with foreigners taking up Singapore citizenship as an example. On the flip-side, Singaporeans may also benefit from gaining the citizenship of another nation, and if Singapore considers itself a “first-class global city”, why should we fear that other nations are more attractive than our own?
With such sweeping logic, Teo also ignores the fact that many nations who allow dual citizenship do not have a problem with the commitment of its citizens. Could it be that commitment/loyalty issues are engendered by factors other than a piece of paper? If so, it would be wise to address these issues that cause a lack of loyalty rather than try to simply shut the door on dual citizenship by brute force.
We need not allow universal dual citizenship. Dual citizenship can be extended only to specific nations in order to strengthen bilateral relations, or when there is no foreseeable conflict in the long term. This allows us to get the most out of such arrangements while mitigating the risks and reducing commitment issues.
But there may be a better solution – a policy that allows ex-Singaporeans and their direct descendants to claim (or re-claim) Singapore citizenship by oath (qualified by ancestry). This gives Singaporeans a strengthened sense of identity (our Singaporean-ness endures even after we have left our homeland), allows flexibility in a high-immigration world (of which Singapore is a hub), and may encourage many to return to our shores after taking risks overseas, bringing precious diversity and ideas with them. Not to mention positive effects on our population growth. Singapore needs this flexibility.
To this we can also add the criteria of having served or being wiling to serve NS, or having the criteria that there be a living relative who is also a Singaporean citizen who is willing to sponsor their claim. This cements real and heartfelt ties to our nation.
Ultimately, dual citizenship may indeed be a bad idea, but Teo Chee Hean has to come up with better reasons why it is, or perhaps clarify why PRs are doing NS and bearing arms in the defence of someone else’s nation.