Singles need permission to marry work permit holders!

Posted by Sinapan Samydorai under Policy Watch on 31 March 2002

Singapore has more then 300,000 singles who have difficulties to find a marriage partner. Yet we have in existence policies which deprives citizens from choosing a partner who is or had been a work permit holder. Do you think this policy is discriminatary towards workers with low income and eduation?

Those who did marry a worker permit holder are forced to life in separation because they did not ask the former Ministry of Labour (now the Ministry of Manpower) permission for marriage? Many of those who married a worker permit holder are often ignorant that such a policy even existed.

The policy was meant to discourage school-leavers and/or teenagers from marrying work permit holders. But in practice this policy is applied to even individuals who are well above teenage and above 30 of age. If this policy is to remain it must be redefine, for example, age limits, clear and open criteria, work permit holders who obtain skills and have worked for 4 years should be free to choose local partners, Singaporeans above 30 years should be free to choose partners who have worked for 4 years with work permit, etc.

It`s a social policy and we should have the heart to forgive and accept those have married a work permit holder without the due permission especially those who are above 30 of age.

Why this families from the lower educated and lower income bracket is being discriminate, and their children suffer the pain of forced parental separation instituted by a misguided state population control policy?

Part of the punitive and discriminative policy makes a citizen (who had married a work permit holder without permission) not eligible to apply for HDB flat, nor would his/her children be entitled to free education, nor would the family enjoy subsidised medical treatment.This policy should be remove.

In the above case, it will be better for these citizens especially the women to remain single parent and enjoy the above social benefits (provided they are aware of the policy and choose to remain single parent and bravely face the social stigma).

We should remake Singapore socially to be more humane and caring towards the lower educated and lower income families: drop all discriminative policies towards them. They are citizens with equal rights, lets not deprive their children off opportunities to improve their lot regardless of their class, race, religion and colour. ________________________________________________________________ June 1993 PRESS RELEASE



One significant facet of Singapore`s economic growth has been the easy employment situation for young school leavers and others still in their teens. They come into contact with equally young workers, on work permits in Singapore.

It is natural for these young workers on work permits, having found their bearing, to make friends and mix freely in our society. After a time, many of them may want to marry, settle down, and raise families in Singapore.

This evolution can result in a healthy infusion of vigorous and hardworking types to Singapore`s population; provided they have acquired work skills, and are industrious and thrifty. These qualities are essential if these young people are to be integrated successfully into Singapore society. However, it takes time for such attributes to be proven in regular and successful employment.

Unless a work permit worker is adjusted to the different and faster pace of life in a highly disciplined and urbanised society, and to the ethos of small planned families, marriage between a work permit holder and a Singapore citizen can lead to difficulties for themselves, and for Singapore. The Ministry of Labour has decided to discourage these young workers on work permits from contracting early marriages, until they have shown that they are able to settle down successfully in Singapore and to support a small family.

From 1 July 1973, it will be necessary for a work permit holder to first obtain the approval of the Comissioner for Employment before contracting marriage with a Singapore citizen. Marriage between work permit holders, where Singapore citizenship, or permanent residence, in Singapore is not is not acquired nor desired, will not require prior approval.

With effect from 1 July 1973, a condition precedent in all work permits will apply, viz that a work permit is automatically forfeited where the holder, having less than 5 years of continuous employment in Singapore, marries a Singapore citizen, unless such marriage has had the prior approval of the Commissioner for Employment. This provision cannot be evaded by the work permit holder giving up the work permit and then contracting marriage with a Singapore citizen in another country.

Immigration laws at present forbid the entry into or residence in Singapore of anyone who is not a citizen except where permission may have been given. Accordingly, marriage to a Singapore citizen does not automatically confer upon a non-citizen rights of entry, or residence, in Singapore, except with the permission of the Immigration authorities.

Further, any Singapore Citizen, male or female, who marries a work permit holder, without having first obtained the permission of the Commissioner for Employment, would not be eligible to apply for a Housing and Development Board flat, nor world their children be entitled to free education, nor would the family enjoy subsidised medical treatment.

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