SINGAPORE — The researcher who was quoted in a media article as saying that 3,500 high-net-worth individuals were expected to become Singapore citizens in 2023 claimed he was misquoted.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said this on Monday (May 8) in response to a parliamentary question by Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai.
Leong had asked for the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals and their families with a net worth of at least US$50 million (S$66 million) who have been granted Singapore citizenship annually since 2000.
In April, Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao quoted Andrew Amoils, head of research at wealth intelligence firm New World Wealth, as saying these high-net-worth individuals were mostly from China.
The Business Times, Mothership and The Online Citizen picked up Zaobao's report.
In response, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on April 25 that the reports were highly misleading and had no credible basis.
MHA said it did not know how Amoils arrived at these figures, as the granting of Singapore citizenship for the rest of 2023 had not been decided yet.
Said Mr Shanmugam: "After our statement was issued, the researcher wrote to MHA to say that he had been misquoted by the media. He said that 'this was simply untrue and not at all what was said in the interview'. He said he had 'never said anything about citizenship'."
Shanmugam added that Amoils said he did not track citizenship in his research, and that his projection referred to high-net-worth individuals moving to Singapore in general.
Amoils said most of these people may be expatriates and work transfers, that is, not necessarily people who applied for citizenship and became citizens, said Shanmugam.
Highlighting MHA's statement issued in April, Shanmugam said having high net worth does not guarantee Singapore citizenship, and each application is assessed on a broad range of factors.
Factors include the number of jobs the applicant or his business may be able to create in Singapore, the special skills or education the applicant may possess, and the commitment to sink roots in Singapore.
Different criteria may apply to different applicants, depending on their background and circumstances, explained Shanmugam.
He said: "For example, an applicant applying as a spouse of a Singapore citizen will be considered differently from someone applying on the basis of having stayed in Singapore for a period of time, and contributed to employment creation in Singapore."