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Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

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Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by NSproblems2018 » Sat, 25 Aug 2018 3:51 am

Hi everyone,

To start off, I've read the incredibly informative article on this website as well as some of the forum posts regarding NS issues. I'm posting this on the forum due to the uniqueness of my situation and inquiring into whether more intelligent minds can opine on what my options are at this point in time.

I was born in the U.S. to Singapore parents (Singapore citizens both now and historically), however moved back to Singapore at an early age. I lived in Singapore until age 9, at which point my family moved back to the United States. Thus, I was a dual citizen of both countries. Through my early teens I visited Singapore a few times (probably 3-4 months in total) with my last visit at age 14/15. My father renewed my Singapore passport, but to my knowledge, I never used the passport.

At age 16, I was requested by MINDEF to sign up for NS. I did not want to sign up as I wanted to be a U.S. citizen. My understanding was given I left the country at a young age (prior to 11) as well as my U.S. citizenship, I could safely renounce my citizenship. MINDEF's position was that because my father renewed my passport at age 14/15, I had enjoyed the benefits of Singaporean citizenship and was thus required to serve. At that age (no need to argue whether I was right or wrong), I decided to stay in the U.S. and not serve NS. As a result, I am presently labeled a deserter.

Now that I'm 28, I am regretting my decision, and wonder if there is anything to be done regarding my situation. Could I appeal the decision that I enjoyed benefits of Singaporean citizenship and reverse my deserter status? As I said before, I moved to the U.S. at the age of 9. To my knowledge, I was not a beneficiary of the schooling, infrastructure, health care, etc of Singapore beyond the age of 11. I only have a passport, which I never used. I'm not sure I'd ever want to live in Singapore permanently, but I am asking from the perspective I would love to be able to visit without worrying that I'll be put in jail. If hiring a lawyer will improve my odds, I am willing to do so. I understand that the penalties are present a fine up to S$10K and/or 3 years in jail.

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by PNGMK » Sat, 25 Aug 2018 1:08 pm

This is a running issue. Your parents stuffed up. Grossly and negligently and criminally. Singapore's passport carries great value as due to the ceaseless and tireless efforts of the MFA it has almost the highest level of acceptance for entry world wide. That alone is a benefit.

I don't know what your career path is but would it die if you did a few months in Changi and then 20 months in NS?
I not lawyer/teacher/CPA.
You've been arrested? Law Society of Singapore can provide referrals.
You want an International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
Your rugrat needs a School? Avoid for profit schools
You need Tax advice? Ask a CPA
You ran away without doing NS? Shame on you!

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by sundaymorningstaple » Sun, 26 Aug 2018 10:12 pm

The biggest mistake made was the renewing of your Singapore Passport at the age of 14 or 15. You have no options at this point, sad to say. MFA/Mindef have you by the short and curleys and if you step foot in Singapore, you will have your day in court and in Changi for a spell, and then in NS for 24 months. Oh, and remember to thank your parents for f**king up your life for you.

You situation is not unique. There are hundreds if not thousands just like you where the parents thought they could pull the wool over Mindef's eyes. Mindef's seen it all. You best bet? Notify the CMBP that you are coming in to do your NS stint as the law requires. You might get off with a fine and no time in Changi but you will still need to serve you 24 in NS.

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by NSproblems2018 » Wed, 05 Sep 2018 3:13 am

Thanks for the responses so far.

So it sounds like my only option would be jail time+NS, is that correct?

I think the only thing I'd add to the discussion here is that try to put yourself in the shoes of a true dual citizen (from birth) of SG+another country. SG's policies effective force dual citizens to choose SG's citizenship (by enlisting at 16) without being able to choose the citizenship of the other country (at age 21). If you don't choose SG citizenship, then you are banned from the country. Is my understanding of the policy fair?

If I have no legal case or if the best minds in Singapore can do nothing for me, I guess there's nothing more for me to do than to check back for the laws when/if they improve.
Last edited by NSproblems2018 on Wed, 05 Sep 2018 3:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by NSproblems2018 » Wed, 05 Sep 2018 3:14 am

PNGMK wrote:This is a running issue. Your parents stuffed up. Grossly and negligently and criminally. Singapore's passport carries great value as due to the ceaseless and tireless efforts of the MFA it has almost the highest level of acceptance for entry world wide. That alone is a benefit.

I don't know what your career path is but would it die if you did a few months in Changi and then 20 months in NS?
I'm an investment financial analyst (inform investors about stocks). My career would effectively be over if I took 2 years off.

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by Strong Eagle » Wed, 05 Sep 2018 3:26 am

Singapore has been referred to as "Disneyland with the death penalty". Historically, it has been a one party state, with nominal/alleged democracy, and certainly a parliament that seems to rubber stamp the decisions of the ones really in power.

Lee Kuan Yew ran Singapore with an iron fist, and if you've read anything about Singapore history, it was what Singapore needed to overcome criminal gangs and rampant corruption. That mindset has shifted a bit but not as much as you might like to think.

Therefore, although a lot of reasonable people might consider Singapore's stance on NS to be archaic and unnecessary, I doubt you'll see any major changes within the next two decades or more. I would not plan on any substantial change in laws for the next 20 years of your career.

I am afraid that I lump "investment financial analysts" in with the professionals who are the butt of this joke: "What do you have when you have 20 lawyers buried in concrete up to their necks? Not enough concrete." Having to start a new, more meaningful career doesn't seem like such a downer to me. You'd certainly have stories to tell, were you to come back to Singapore and face the music... whatever piece was playing.

Good luck to you.

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by PNGMK » Wed, 05 Sep 2018 7:14 am

You can live a full life without going near Singapore. Note that with the evidence being that Kwan might have used a different name on a US passport to come in that door is probably closing fast. Is your last Singapore passport a biometric one?
I not lawyer/teacher/CPA.
You've been arrested? Law Society of Singapore can provide referrals.
You want an International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
Your rugrat needs a School? Avoid for profit schools
You need Tax advice? Ask a CPA
You ran away without doing NS? Shame on you!

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by NSproblems2018 » Thu, 06 Sep 2018 1:53 am

PNGMK wrote:You can live a full life without going near Singapore. Note that with the evidence being that Kwan might have used a different name on a US passport to come in that door is probably closing fast. Is your last Singapore passport a biometric one?
I'm not sure (lass passport would've been registered 15 years ago approximately), but I'm not sure I want to get an alternative passport (maybe Kwan got a passport with a different name?) and trigger any name consistencies or match on a fingerprint. In general, I am trying to pursue fully legal routes without risking the prospects of weeks or months or years in jail.

But you're right I can live a full life without going to Singapore. But at the same time I'm incredibly frustrated that I am being held to this on what appears to me to be a technicality. I know that NS is a great equalizer in Singapore (all 3 of the males in my immediate family have done it, my parents visit annually), but I view myself as a dual citizen who was penalized for choosing the other citizenship, so to speak.

Thanks for all your comments and efforts so far!

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by NSproblems2018 » Thu, 06 Sep 2018 1:56 am

Strong Eagle wrote:Singapore has been referred to as "Disneyland with the death penalty". Historically, it has been a one party state, with nominal/alleged democracy, and certainly a parliament that seems to rubber stamp the decisions of the ones really in power.

Lee Kuan Yew ran Singapore with an iron fist, and if you've read anything about Singapore history, it was what Singapore needed to overcome criminal gangs and rampant corruption. That mindset has shifted a bit but not as much as you might like to think.

Therefore, although a lot of reasonable people might consider Singapore's stance on NS to be archaic and unnecessary, I doubt you'll see any major changes within the next two decades or more. I would not plan on any substantial change in laws for the next 20 years of your career.

I am afraid that I lump "investment financial analysts" in with the professionals who are the butt of this joke: "What do you have when you have 20 lawyers buried in concrete up to their necks? Not enough concrete." Having to start a new, more meaningful career doesn't seem like such a downer to me. You'd certainly have stories to tell, were you to come back to Singapore and face the music... whatever piece was playing.

Good luck to you.

Appreciate your thoughts. I know sometimes Singapore can be so global in mentality yet the mindset can be archaic in other ways. I guess all I can do is hope that at some point there can be some sort of a clarification for people in my position. I doubt we number more than a few thousand though.

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by PNGMK » Thu, 06 Sep 2018 10:55 am

A 15 yo passport won't be biometric. Did you collect an NRIC (which requires fingerprinting)? If not - and this is not legal advice - it will be hard to match you even if you show up with a US passport in your birth name provided the place of birth does not show as Singapore.
I not lawyer/teacher/CPA.
You've been arrested? Law Society of Singapore can provide referrals.
You want an International School job? School website or http://www.ISS.edu
Your rugrat needs a School? Avoid for profit schools
You need Tax advice? Ask a CPA
You ran away without doing NS? Shame on you!

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by NSproblems2018 » Fri, 07 Sep 2018 7:25 am

PNGMK wrote:A 15 yo passport won't be biometric. Did you collect an NRIC (which requires fingerprinting)? If not - and this is not legal advice - it will be hard to match you even if you show up with a US passport in your birth name provided the place of birth does not show as Singapore.
This is a good question that I'm not sure i know the answer to. I dont think I have an NRIC (basically an ID card right?) because I was too young on my most recent trip to Singapore.

I was born in the U.S., thats why I'm a U.S. citizen by birth. Its an interesting question that I should look into with a lawyer perhaps.

I'm not sure I'd ever bet willing to come in and "hold my breath" that I'm not held by immigration authorities when it is all said and done if that makes sense!

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by okonu » Fri, 07 Sep 2018 8:38 am

NSproblems2018 wrote:
PNGMK wrote:
But you're right I can live a full life without going to Singapore. But at the same time I'm incredibly frustrated that I am being held to this on what appears to me to be a technicality. I know that NS is a great equalizer in Singapore (all 3 of the males in my immediate family have done it, my parents visit annually), but I view myself as a dual citizen who was penalized for choosing the other citizenship, so to speak.

Thanks for all your comments and efforts so far!
Why do you think you are being penalised? If you are a dual citizen, you are meant to do NS, it isn't a technicality.
SG's policies effective force dual citizens to choose SG's citizenship (by enlisting at 16) without being able to choose the citizenship of the other country (at age 21). If you don't choose SG citizenship, then you are banned from the country. Is my understanding of the policy fair?
Not quite. You can do NS, then still choose the other citizenship at age 21 & renouncing SG passport. Or you can give up SG citizenship at an earlier age (under 13 I think) So there is no forcing you to be Singaporean

And you aren't banned from coming to SG if you give up SG citizenship, but obviously you only have 'tourist' status when you do.

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by NSproblems2018 » Fri, 19 Oct 2018 3:51 am

This situation seems somewhat similar to mine described above, except I actually lived in SG for 9 years AND I did apply for a passport/NRIC (both basically never used).

I am no longer a SG citizen. Could similar logic be applied to me?

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/si ... d-10731932

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 20 Oct 2018 9:37 pm

Big difference. Ekawit Tangtrakarn "never" lived in Singapore. He was born in Thailand a at the age of one year, was registered as a Singaporean in Thailand as his mother is a Singaporean. This is why he lost his citizenship in 2015 as those who got their citizenship by registration have to take the oath of allegiance at the age of 21 or lost their citizenship (but it still does not release him from his obligation. While his mother was aware of his obligation and had been in contact with the cmpb for a number of years (and his requested deferment was turned down and he also had no exit permit) the fact that he wasn't born in Singapore NOR ever lived in Singapore, they fined him primarily for the failure to get an exit permit when his deferment was denied. The case isn't even similar.

The problem you have is that both of your parents were and still are, Singaporeans, so there was never any doubt about the fact that you would remain a Singapore Citizen, while that may not be the absolute truth, your parents would be hard pressed to try to convince the Singapore Government that your US citizenship was not designed to try to get you out of NS. Because of the US laws regarding births of foreigners on US soil gives you the right of citizenship. It's not going to hold any water at all with Singapore ICA or MHA. Your citizenship was purely happenstance and they are going to be fully cognizant of that fact.

I really don't see anyway for you to legally circumvent the issue. Especially knowing you also lived in Singapore for 9 years after your were born. You are going to have to pay the piper, I'm afraid. US CItizen or not.

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Re: Can anything be done about my NS/deserter issues?

Post by NSproblems2018 » Thu, 29 Nov 2018 12:45 am

sundaymorningstaple wrote:Big difference. Ekawit Tangtrakarn "never" lived in Singapore. He was born in Thailand a at the age of one year, was registered as a Singaporean in Thailand as his mother is a Singaporean. This is why he lost his citizenship in 2015 as those who got their citizenship by registration have to take the oath of allegiance at the age of 21 or lost their citizenship (but it still does not release him from his obligation. While his mother was aware of his obligation and had been in contact with the cmpb for a number of years (and his requested deferment was turned down and he also had no exit permit) the fact that he wasn't born in Singapore NOR ever lived in Singapore, they fined him primarily for the failure to get an exit permit when his deferment was denied. The case isn't even similar.

The problem you have is that both of your parents were and still are, Singaporeans, so there was never any doubt about the fact that you would remain a Singapore Citizen, while that may not be the absolute truth, your parents would be hard pressed to try to convince the Singapore Government that your US citizenship was not designed to try to get you out of NS. Because of the US laws regarding births of foreigners on US soil gives you the right of citizenship. It's not going to hold any water at all with Singapore ICA or MHA. Your citizenship was purely happenstance and they are going to be fully cognizant of that fact.

I really don't see anyway for you to legally circumvent the issue. Especially knowing you also lived in Singapore for 9 years after your were born. You are going to have to pay the piper, I'm afraid. US CItizen or not.
Appreciate your thoughts!

I think on the "my parents designed my birth in the US to get me out of NS issue", not too worried, both my younger brothers have served their 2 years. My birth in the US was based on where they resided at that point in time. My parents were not trying to design it so their kids could get out if it, and I think that's easy to prove otherwise they would've relocated to the US for both my younger brothers' birth as well.

Generally you could be right. The fact that I lived in SG 9 years and Mr. Tangtarkarn didn't could be a big point of difference.

I think at the end of the day the current system doesn't afford people in my position the full right to exercise our rights as dual citizens. We deserve to be given a true chance at choosing, and making an NS decision at 16 but a citizenship decision at 21 doesn't give us that right. When I was 16, I felt more American than Singaporean. I continue to feel that way. And I felt I was backed into a corner to either choose SG citizenship or be banned from the country by being labeled a criminal. That doesn't seem right to me.

Anyways, I'll keep an eye on the news and may hire a lawyer to see where they could take my case in the future! Thanks for taking the time to type out such a thought-out response.

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