After journalist Bertha Henson wrote a forum letter questioning, “Why charge Singaporeans for new ICs?”, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) responded saying that they “believe that a system where the applicant pays a small sum is better: It brings a stronger sense of pride and ownership of the card”. Their statement drew mixed reactions from netizens, with some finding the fee completely unnecessary, much like Henson.
In her letter, Henson wrote that she agreed with and saw the “logic of this (changing her IC) as no one would be able to recognise me from my IC photograph”.
However, she adds, “As a Singaporean who has never had to pay for her IC in her life, I was flabbergasted. For me, it’s not a question of affordability. It is about what this payment smacks of — a transaction to re-affirm your citizenship”.
She wrote, “ICA said that the cost is subsidised for citizens, but my question is why a fee should even be levied for a replacement card”.
Concluding her letter, Henson said, “I want my new IC to be a celebration of my citizenship, something I will be happy to have and to hold. Not something I paid S$10 for”.
Replying to Henson, ICA responded saying, “The cost of replacing an NRIC is about S$60. Citizens pay S$10 and the balance of S$50 is subsidised. PRs pay a higher fee of S$50.
These fees have been charged and unchanged since 2000. The change is that re-registration is now also required at age 55. This has been the case since Jan 1, 2017”.
They add, “Ms Henson wants the whole sum to be subsidised. That is possible, but in effect, it means the taxpayer in general would pay the full sum, as opposed to S$50. The applicant would pay nothing, as opposed to S$10”.
The line in their letter that proved to be controversial was when they wrote, “We believe that a system where the applicant pays a small sum is better: It brings a stronger sense of pride and ownership of the card. The S$10 sum is very manageable for most people”.
Netizens came with mixed reactions as some felt that having to pay the S$10, though a small amount felt to them like putting a price on their citizenship. Conversely, others felt that their IC was a part of their identity and that a small fee was a very affordable price to pay.