Friday, 21 December 2012

Citizens have rights that must be protected

21th December 2012

WHILE I agree with Ms Estella Young ("Timely reminder to keep S'pore open"; Wednesday) that Singapore will lose out by shutting out foreign talent, we should do well to remember that the privileges conferred on Singaporeans come with obligations and responsibilities.

For one, male citizens must serve national service as well as be called up for reservist training on a yearly basis, whereas new citizens and foreign talent have no such obligations.

The new arrivals thus ride on the sacrifices and commitment of Singaporeans to maintain the peace and security which we enjoy.
So, I disagree with Ms Young when she suggests that insisting on certain privileges reduces citizenship and national identity to the value of its perks, somewhat like a club membership.

It is only fair that such privileges are conferred on Singaporeans instead of all, to create a distinction between Singapore citizens, Singapore citizens who have served national service, permanent residents and foreign workers.

While we must be mindful that having a jingoistic paradigm will weaken us eventually, we should also be mindful that citizens must be rooted to the country and have a sense of ownership.

Just as we wish to attract foreign talent, it is equally important to keep Singaporeans rooted to Singapore as otherwise, it will be a Pyrrhic victory for all.  ~ Elgar Lee

Straits Times forum

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