According to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), there are a total of 1,109 legally recognised stateless people as of 30 November 2020.
According to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), there are three broad categories of how these people were rendered as stateless.
They were either:
1. Migrants who lost their foreign citizenship after residing in Singapore for a long time
2. Born to non-Singaporean or stateless parents in Singapore
3. Unable to apply for citizenship due to missing documentation
In the context of Singapore, statelessness is more of a legacy issue of our post-war era leading to our sudden independence in1965. Many of our stateless residents here have grown up or were even born in Singapore. They have also contributed to our nation building efforts and our economy. Yet in those uncertain and chaotic times, some residents on the island failed to register themselves as Singapore citizens and are thus denied citizenship. This impacted them in their daily life as some struggle to open bank accounts, buy or rent houses, and even find a job. Such difficulties present a very real challenge for them as it leaves them in the lurch in comparison to the everyday Singaporeans.
Because of certain regulations from Housing and Development Board (HDB), stateless persons are not allowed to buy or rent houses from the government.
As an alternative, they would usually stay together with their Singaporean relatives or rent a room from the public.
There are no regulations preventing the employment of a stateless person in Singapore.
The government is approaching each appeal for citizenship by stateless persons on a case by case basis.
Do bring up this issue to your respective Members of Parliament (MPs) if you come across any stateless person in your ward. This is not a political issue nor is it an administrative one. This is a humanitarian issue.
There were a couple of news articles released back in 2016 and 2017 by Ms Wong Pei Ting, a senior journalist at TODAY. Her six-month-long project was strung together by first-hand accounts of interviews and documentation of relevant stakeholders which led her to publishing five news articles pertaining to statelessness.
You can view them here:
1. Confused and Dejected, stateless persons plead to be called Singaporeans
2. Readers offer to help pay for stateless children's school fees
3. Nearly a Singaporean
4. From stateless to citizen: Finally a Singaporean after 50 years
5. Finally where she belongs
The issue of statelessness has also been raised in Parliament over the years by Ministers who have been actively advocating for the disenfranchised groups in Singapore.
1. Ministry of Home Affairs: Number and Profile of Stateless People Living in Singapore
2. Ministry of Home Affairs Committee of Supply 2016
3. Ministry of Manpower: Process for Stateless in Singapore to be Recognised as PR or Citizens
4. Ministry of Home Affairs: Stateless Residents Living in Singapore as of January 2019
In most recent months, MP Christopher de Souza has brought up this topic in several parliamentary debates:
1. Ministry of Manpower: Employment of a Stateless Person in Singapore
2. Ministry of Social and Family Development: Help for Stateless Persons who Require Social and Financial Assistance
3. Ministry of Home Affairs: Stateless Residents Residing in Singapore
4. Ministry of National Development: Restrictions on stateless persons attempting to buy or renta HDB
As of now, there are no direct organisations that deals with statelessness in Singapore.
However, there are a couple of organisations listed below that have encountered such cases in their field of work.
1. Homeless Hearts of Singapore
2. The Salvation Army
3. Ray of Hope
4. WIRA (Women In Recovery Association)
You may also approach your respective MPs in your constituency to seek assistance.
Ensure that you are eligible for Singapore citizenship here first before applying to ICA.
When such persons apply for PR or Singapore citizenship, ICA will evaluate every application on a range of criteria including length of stay in Singapore, family profile, economic contributions, education, qualifications, age, and family ties to Singaporeans. ICA also takes into consideration the applicant’s circumstances, including the origin reasons behind the person’s statelessness.