I picked up my mail as usual this afternoon, not even bothering to look at it (usually bills and publicity) and went on to shop for food, cook etc. Then I decided to sort it out this evening and my heart nearly stopped when I saw a letter from MINDEF (Ministry of Defence).
On the Teenager's 13th Birthday, I had written to CMPB (Central Manpower Base) requesting that the boy be granted deferment from National Service (NS) till the age of 21 years, pending renunciation of his Singapore citizenship. They said they would reply in 3 weeks, but it has actually taken 2 months.
My heart was beating really fast as I opened the letter. Then my eyes fell upon this sentence,
"MINDEF has considered his case and is prepared to grant him deferment until he is 21 years old pending renunciation of his Singapore citizenship. However, if he subsequently enjoys privileges of Singapore citizenship, his deferment will be revoked..."
Am I overjoyed? Relieved, yes, overjoyed, no. Relieved that we wouldn't have to post the 100K bond for the exit permit, relieved that he wouldn't have NS hanging over his head for a citizenship that he will probably renounce anyway. This boy is born and bred in Europe after all.
But I feel sad. My connection to my country will end with me. This feels like a part of me has been chopped off, detached. I am bleeding. How do I explain that?
Still, I will remain hopeful, for it doesn't cost anything to hope. I will hope that in the next few years, Singapore may change her citizenship laws and allow dual citizenships under certain circumstances. Then maybe I can persuade the Teenager to do his NS and keep both citizenships.
Singapore has given me much. No matter where I am in the world, my heart remains Singaporean. I am Singaporean. This is the way things are.
Meanwhile, I am thankful that my faith in my country has been justified. That I had chosen to contact CMPB last year to clarify things instead of depending on hearsay. That I was right to believe that for all her faults Singapore is a fair and lawful country.