Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Citizen or Citizen of the World?


Source: Getty

When considering which aspects of home life one misses when they live abroad, it is interesting to pose the question of where is home and how do we decide?

We mentioned in a previous post about how Canadian expatriates are facing the choice of whether to relinquish their national citizenship or not. This requires those individuals who have resided outside of the country for more than five years to surrender their democratic right to vote in federal elections. In addition, nationals must continue to pay taxes if they still possess any native investments. Arguably, this legal hostility could discourage those living abroad from retaining links with their place of birth.

However, for others there are more positive reasons for acquiring alternative citizenship. When the sovereignty of Hong Kong was transferred to China in the 1990s, civil servants were told that the top posts in the administration should be reserved for Chinese nationals. For Mike Rowse, the opportunity for professional seniority together with the ease of the application progress informed his decision to apply for citizen status.

Sometimes, for former expats such as Steve Tennant, making the decision to become a permanent resident of a state such as Hong Kong emerges accidentally. Though born in Britain, Steve arrived in the state from Singapore. His subsequent marriage to a Chinese national along with the birth of two daughters and his gradual immersion into the language and other cultural facets of Hong Kong, prompted his retirement in the region.

Of course there are others who feel that gaining official citizenship, whether for emotional, professional or technical reasons, is somewhat unnecessary. As this website proposes, ‘Legally, a citizen is someone who has the required passport, a piece of paper. But truly, a citizen is someone who shares with their communities and who gives back what they take out.’

As we have explored through our posts on employment, business and friendship – expatriates certainly contribute to their adopted neighbourhoods in a very positive way.

Do you agree?

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