Singapore-born New Zealand teenager Brandon Smith will be required to fulfil his national service (NS) obligations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said on Wednesday (March 2).
“It would not be fair to allow citizens to avoid NS just because they reside overseas.” Jurong GRC MP David Ong had wanted to know if the ministry had entered into discussions with New Zealand on the case of Mr Smith, who holds dual citizenship and had previously stated his desire to seek exemption from NS.
The 19-year-old, whose mother is Singaporean and father a New Zealander, moved to the city of Dunedin at the age of eight. He has had multiple applications to defer his NS call-up until he turns 21 – the age when he can relinquish his Singapore citizenship – rejected.
But MFA has clarified that Mr Smith would still be liable for any breaches of the Enlistment Act, even if he were to apply for renunciation of his Singapore citizenship after attaining the age of majority. Mr Smith faces a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a maximum of three years in prison if he fails to comply.
“While the Singapore Government is responsible for determining their own citizenship policies, I have considerable sympathy for the situation this family has found themselves in,” New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Murray McCully said.
Personally, I feel that it is only right for Mr Smith to fulfil his NS obligations, as a Singaporean even though he has been living in New Zealand since young. Like all other men who are obliged to go for NS, it is only right for him to take up his responsibility and give back to the country as a Singaporean. Furthermore, giving an excuse of ‘residing overseas’ since young does not permit him to avoid NS since he is holding on to Singapore citizenship.
Rachael Fong (2L)