Published: 08 May 2023
Mr Leong Mun Wai: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs for each year since 2000 (a) what is the number of ultra-high net worth individuals and their families, with a net worth of at least USD 50 million, who have been granted Singapore citizenship; (b) of which, how many of them obtained Singapore citizenship after having set up a family office in Singapore; and (c) how many obtained Singapore citizenship through other avenues.
Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law:
1. Sir, the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) does not collect information on the wealth or net worth of Singapore Citizenship applicants. That is not a primary criterion for assessment for Singapore citizenship.
2. There were recent media reports that said that a researcher based in South Africa had estimated that 3,500 high-net-worth individuals were due to get Singapore Citizenship in 2023. MHA issued a statement on 25 Apr 2023, stating that the reports were highly misleading and had no credible basis. We do not know how the researcher arrived at these figures, and the grant of Singapore Citizenship for the rest of 2023 has not been decided as yet.
3. After our statement was issued, the researcher wrote to MHA to say that he had been misquoted by the media. He said, and I quote, “This was simply untrue and not at all what was said in the interview.” He said he had “never said anything about citizenship”. He said that he did not track citizenship in his research, and that his projection referred to high-net-worth individuals moving to Singapore in general. Most of them may be expatriates and work transfers i.e. not necessarily persons who applied for and became citizens.
4. As mentioned in MHA’s statement on 25 Apr 2023, having high net worth does not guarantee Singapore Citizenship. Each Singapore Citizenship application is assessed on a broad range of factors, which include the ability to contribute to Singapore, the number of jobs that the applicant or his business may be able to create in Singapore, the special skills and/or education that the applicant may possess, the applicant’s family ties to Singaporeans, the ability to integrate, and the commitment to sink roots in Singapore. Different criteria may apply to different applicants, depending on their background and circumstances – for example an applicant applying as a spouse of a Singapore citizen will be considered differently from someone applying on the basis of having stayed in Singapore for a period of time, and contributed to employment creation in Singapore.