Remarks by Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs & Minister for Law, on Parents’ Dialect Information in the Digital Birth Certificate, at the Sidelines of Community Events on 13 August 2022

Published: 13 August 2022

Minister, do you have any comments on the Government’s decision to reinstate data on parents’ dialect groups in the child’s digital birth certificates from 1 September? 


1.   We should have made clear the facts. We continue to register dialect information at birth. Information is on the Singpass app. So, dialect information is easily available, has always been available, and will continue to be available. 

2.   Digital birth certificates, they were introduced in May. We looked at the fields from the physical birth certificate and we removed five pieces of information, which were either not necessary to be in the birth certificate, or because they are already in other documents. These five pieces of information – parents’ country of birth, mother’s address, child’s place of birth, informant’s particulars, and parents’ dialect groups – all these five were removed. 

3.   But as I said, we should have made clear that dialect information is easily available in Singpass. We should have also made clear the reasons for not including this information in the digital birth certificate.

4.   Dialect groups are important to many people, including as a means of recognising one’s identity and one’s roots. 

5.   So, I can understand the feelings on dialect group information. It relates to culture, it relates to heritage, which many people hold dear and would want to continue to see safeguarded. And removing the information makes people concerned. These are real concerns that must be acknowledged. That is why we have clarified that the information is on Singpass.  

6.   The Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry have been in discussions with us. They have also spoken with Minister Edwin, because his portfolio covers culture, and he chairs the Chinese Community Liaison Group. They have also spoken with MOS Sun Xueling who is with my Ministry, the Ministry of Home Affairs. 

7.   We also spoke with media editors, Zaobao, Channel 8, and others to better understand the situation. 

8.   I have taken into account the feedback from the clan associations, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and the media, as well as other feedback, and decided we will reinstate the information in the digital birth certificates.

9.   ICA will include parents’ dialect in these digital birth certificates issued from 1 September this year. 

10.   For digital birth certificates that were issued before 1 September, parents will be able to re-download their child’s digital birth certificate from 1 September onwards, without any additional cost.