SMS Josephine Teo: Up to new citizens to associate with any political party

Hannah Teoh
Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo (left) and Workers’ Party NCMP Leon Perera (right). Photo: Yahoo Singapore

There are no restrictions on the political parties that new citizens of Singapore can associate with and they can choose to live in any constituency, Senior Minister of State (SMS) for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo said on Thursday (2 March).

Teo was responding to a question in Parliament by Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera of the Workers’ Party (WP), who expressed concern about the possibility of “one-sidedness” in the political education that new citizens receive.

Referring to the Singapore Citizenship Journey’s (SCJ) community-sharing sessions, Perera said that new citizens and prospective citizens are exposed to grassroots organisations under the People’s Association umbrella. During the SCJ process, they get to meet People’s Action Party (PAP) politicians but not those from other parties, Perera added.

The NCMP said that he had met a few new citizens who told him that they were concerned that their citizenship would be revoked if they didn’t vote for PAP. He cited a highly educated, older citizen who was afraid of such an outcome if he were to vote for WP.

Perera asked if the new citizens can be educated about the secrecy of their votes during an election and said that this aspect isn’t covered in the “Home For New Citizens” guide, which has a section on Singapore’s political system.

Replying to a follow-up question by Perera, Teo said the vast majority of all adult new citizens have lived in Singapore at least five years before naturalisation, which means they would have witnessed at least one electoral cycle usually.

Teo told Perera that electoral fraud has never been an issue in all the elections that she has taken part in as a voter.

“I do not know of many other fellow citizens who would doubt that. So I urge the member not to be overly worried about this,” she said.