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Researcher claims to be 'misquoted' in media report on high net worth foreigners becoming citizens

“After our statement was issued, the researcher wrote to MHA to say that he had been misquoted by the media," Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said in Parliament on Monday (May 8).

Researcher claims to be 'misquoted' in media report on high net worth foreigners becoming citizens

File photo of a man jogging along Marina Bay against the skyline of the business district in Singapore. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: A researcher, who reportedly made a prediction on the number of high net worth individuals being granted Singapore citizenship this year, has claimed that he was “misquoted by the media”.

Mr Andrew Amoils, the head of research at wealth intelligence firm New World Wealth, was first cited in an article by Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao on Apr 20.

He reportedly said that up to 3,500 high net worth individuals were expected to become Singapore citizens in 2023, with most of them from China.

Several news outlets, such as The Business Times, Mothership, The Online Citizen and Vulcan Post, later ran articles based on the Zaobao interview.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issued a statement on Apr 26 to dismiss the statement as “highly misleading (and) with no credible basis”. The ministry added that Singapore citizenship applications for the rest of 2023 “have not even been decided yet”.

Speaking in parliament on Monday, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said: “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’.”

The researcher also said that he “did not track citizenship in his research”, according to Mr Shanmugam.

“(His) projection referred to high-net-worth individuals moving to Singapore in general. Most of them may be expatriates and work transfers ie. not necessarily persons who applied for and became citizens,” the minister cited the researcher as saying.

Mr Shanmugam was responding to a parliamentary question from NCMP Leong Mun Wai who had asked for the number of ultra-high net worth individuals and their families who have been granted Singapore citizenship since 2000.

The minister said the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority does not collect information on the wealth or net worth of Singapore citizenship applicants.

“That is not a primary criteria for assessment for Singapore citizenship,” he told the House.

He reiterated that “having high net worth does not guarantee Singapore citizenship”. Citizenship applications are assessed on a broad range of factors, including the ability to contribute to Singapore, the number of jobs that the applicant or his business may be able to create in Singapore, as well as the applicant’s family ties to Singaporeans.

Different criteria may apply to different applicants, depending on their background and circumstances, Mr Shanmugam said.

For example, an applicant applying as a spouse of a Singapore citizen will be considered differently from someone applying based on having stayed in Singapore for a period of time and contributing to the creation of jobs in the country.

Describing the article as a “serious case of being misquoted”, Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh asked if the authorities have reached out to the media publication to find out why the piece was published.

Mr Shanmugam replied that he does not keep track of whether his ministry reached out to the media.

“What we do know and what's factual is that we issued a statement categorically rebutting the report and … the person who was supposedly quoted has written to us to say all these things.”

In an editor's note published on Monday, Lianhe Zaobao said its reporter had asked the research firm about the expected number of new high-net-worth individuals coming to Singapore this year, and the firm estimated that 3,000 to 3,500 people would migrate. 

The article mistakenly stated that they were expected to become Singapore citizens, the newspaper said.

Source: CNA/sk(zl)


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