The (pathetic) case of Ogawa Ryuju

Stateless man fights for Singapore citizenship. 'Fights'? More precise 'complains', I'd say. This 22-year-old Ogawa Ryuju (check out his blog, insists he losing his Singapore citizenship is due to ICA's fault. He insists ICA should have given him a call when he didn't respond to the 2 letters ICA claimed to have sent him.

Wow. Who the *beep* does this Ogawa Ryuju think himself?! He wants ICA to come knocking on his door & begging him to take an oath to finalise his citizenship?!

Right. Move on, dreamer. Say, are you now living in one of the Changi terminals just like Tom Hanks in the movie, "The Terminal"?

A 22-year-old man has found himself caught in a fix after discovering that he is stateless, and ‘no longer a Singapore citizen’.

Ogawa Ryuju was born in Japan to a Japanese father and Singaporean mother and has been living in Singapore since the age of 10. Last year, at the age of 21, he had decided to relinquish his Japanese citizenship to become a Singaporean despite the difficulties he had faced, as he had spent most of his growing up years in the city state.

“I was 10-years-old and only in primary 2, and I could hardly speak English then. My schoolmates also liked to pick on the fact that I’m half-Japanese, so they would bring up the issue of World War II among other things,” he told Yahoo! Singapore.

In Singapore, Ryuju had done his ‘N’ Level examinations, and served two years of National Service. He also possesses a pink identity card and a Singapore passport.

“Singapore is where I call my home, where my friends and family live. It does not matter to me if I’m a citizen of Japan or Singapore, as long as I can live here,” he said.

Foreigners have to take an oath to confirm their status as Singapore citizens at the age of 21. Once they turn 22, their Singapore citizenship will be forfeited if the oath has not been taken.

According to Ryuju, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) claimed they had sent him two letters — first when he turned 21 on 31 August 2009, and then six months after that — to inform him that he had to take a formal oath to finalise his citizenship. However, he claimed that he did not receive any letters from ICA.

“They sent me two letters, but I did not receive anything. When they did not hear from me, they could have called and told me that I needed to go down. After all, they’ve got all my details,” Ryuju lamented.

He only discovered the bad news on October 4 this year, just over a month after his 22nd birthday, when he went down to the ICA to renew his Singapore passport.

“They told me that I was no longer a Singaporean, and the person even showed me a letter that they were preparing to send to me. This was a bit ridiculous as my 22nd birthday had passed more than a month before, and they still hadn’t officially informed me of this,” he said.

He also revealed that his initial appeal to the ICA was recently rejected. His Member of Parliament assisting him in this matter, Mr Heng Chee How, had advised him to re-apply for Singapore citizenship.

However, Ryuju is holding strong to his principles.

“I believe that this situation is the fault of the ICA. If they had handled the situation well, there would not have been this miscommunication. Instead, they do not even want to admit that they have any fault to play at all. I believe that all humans make mistakes, and I’m seeking an apology from their side on this mix-up before I apply again,” he added.

When asked if he would regret spending two years of his life in National Service only to end up not retaining his Singapore citizenship, he shook his head immediately.

“Of course, who wants to spend two years of his life in NS? But for me, I think NS was good as I learnt a lot of values that I otherwise would not have picked up if I was simply leading a normal life outside,” he declared proudly.

ICA could not be reached for comment on the matter.

From Fit to Post - Yahoo! Singapore's blog, "Stateless man fights for Singapore citizenship".


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