The Honorary Citizen Award



The Honorary Citizen Award is the highest national award in Singapore for non-Singaporeans. It recognises the efforts of foreigners who have made outstanding contributions to Singapore in the areas of business, science and technology, information communications, education, health, arts and culture, sports, tourism, community services or security.1

Inauguration
The Honorary Citizen Award is the highest form of state recognition that may be conferred on non-Singaporeans and ranks above other awards such as the Public Service Star (Distinguished Friends of Singapore) award and the Public Service Medal (Friends of Singapore) award.2 The award was instituted in 20033 and conferred that year on Sydney Brenner, a British scientist, and Pasquale Pistorio, an Italian chief executive.4 Sydney Brenner is a biologist born in South Africa and recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.5 Brenner was honoured for his contributions towards Singapore’s biomedical sector as chairman of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*Star) scientific advisory board.6 Pistorio, an Italian businessman,7 helped set up the first wafer fabrication plant in Singapore in 1984 and expanded Singapore semi-conductor sector.8

The award is administered by the Ministry of Manpower, which invites all government agencies to submit nominations for the award each year. The nominations are then considered and endorsed by the Cabinet.9 A maximum of two nominees are made honorary citizens each year and the award is conferred by the President.10


The award includes privileges including the right to reside and work in Singapore, which is also extended to the honorary citizen’s dependent family members. In addition, award winners may purchase property in Singapore, should they wish to do so. Honorary citizenship, however, does not confer the right to vote in elections, and does not carry duties such as enlistment in national service.11

Other Recipients
In the biomedical industry, Briton Richard Brook Sykes received the 2004 award for helping set up the Genome Institute of Singapore and chairing the Biomedical Sciences International Advisory Council,12 while American Edward W. Holmes was presented with the 2011 award for heading A*Star’s Translational and Clinical Sciences Group and chairing the Ministry of Health’s National Medical Research Council.13 In the education sector, Robert A. Brown received the 2006 award for playing a key role in establishing a collaboration between the National University of Singapore, the Nanyang Technological University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, bringing world-class graduate research and educational programmes to Singapore.14

Lodewijk Christiaan Van Wachem, the 2004 recipient, is not new to such high accolades. The former president of Royal Dutch Shell, was among the first group of three foreigners to receive the Public Service Star (Distinguished Friends of Singapore) in 1998 and was honoured for his contributions towards Singapore’s petrochemical industry.15 Two other leaders from the petrochemical industry to receive the award were Lee R. Raymond (2007)16 and Jeroen van der Veer (2009),17 for greatly expanding the Singapore operations of ExxonMobil and Shell respectively.

Honorary Citizen Award winners
2003: Sydney Brenner, Pasquale Pistorio18

2004: Richard Brooks Sykes, Lodewijk Christiaan van Wachem19
2005: Tsutomu Kanai, Robert A. Brown20
2006: Lee Raymond, Heinrich von Pierer21
2007: Ratan Tata, Frank Tsao Wen-King22
2009: Jeroen van der Veer23
2010: Edward W. Holmes24
2011: Ronald Oxburgh25
2013: Hiromasa Yonekura26
2014: Joan Rose, George Radda27



References
1. Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts. (2005, December 28). Singapore confers prestigious Honorary Citizen Award on Dr Tsutomu Kanai and Dr Robert A Brown [Press Release]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline
2. Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts. (2005, December 28). Singapore confers prestigious Honorary Citizen Award on Dr Tsutomu Kanai and Dr Robert A Brown [Press Release]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline

3. Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts. (2005, December 28). Singapore confers prestigious Honorary Citizen Award on Dr Tsutomu Kanai and Dr Robert A Brown [Press Release]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline

4. Inaugural Honorary Citizen award for 2. (2003, October 23). Today, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Nobel laureate a trail-blazer here. (2002, October 9). The Straits Times, p. 9; A lifetime of success for cobbler's son. (2002, October 9). The Straits Times, p. 9; Frances, J. (2003, October 28). First honorary S’pore citizenships awardedToday, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Two made Singapore honorary citizens. (2003, October 23). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Chip industry veteran joins Chartered board. (2005, June 1). The Straits Times, p. 15.  Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Two made Singapore honorary citizens. (2003, October 23). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Nirmala, M. (2004, October 5). Honorary citizenship for two who fuelled S’pore’s growth. The Straits Times, p. 3; Peh, S. H. (2005, December 29). Two global talents to get Honorary Citizen Award. The Straits Times,, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Kok, M. (2011, April 8). 12 outstanding foreigners in exclusive ‘club’. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Inaugural Honorary Citizen award for 2. (2003 October 23). Today, p. 2; Han, W. (2006, January 18). Honours for 2 who helped S’pore grow. The Straits Times, p. 7; Kok, M. (2011, April 8). 12 outstanding foreigners in exclusive ‘club’. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Buenas, D. (2004, October 5). Two named as honorary citizens of SingaporeThe Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Biomed scientist gets top award. (2011, April 5). The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva; Ministry of Manpower. (2011, April 4). Singapore confers prestigious Honorary Citizen Award on Professor Edward Holmes [Press Release]. Retrieved April, 2016, from A-Star website: http://www.a-star.edu.sg/Portals/0/media/Press%20Release/20110404_%20%20Prof%20Ed%20Holmes_Honorary%20Sg%20citizenship.pdf
14. Two global talents to get Honorary Citizen Award. The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Honorary citizenship for two who fuelled S’pore’s growth. (2004, October 5). The Straits Times, p. 3; Two named as honorary citizens of Singapore. (2004, October 5). The Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
16. Lim, R. (2007, March 2). Raymond, von Pierer get citizen awards. The Business Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Hooi, J. (2009, October 23). Former Shell CEO to be honorary citizen. The Business Times, p. 11; Chen, G. (2010, February 26). Former Shell CEO honouredThe Straits Times, p. 3.  Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Inaugural Honorary Citizen award for 2. (2003, Oct 23). Today, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Honorary citizenship for two who fuelled S’pore’s growth. (2004, October 5). The Straits Times, p. 3; Two named as honorary citizens of Singapore. (2004, October 5). The Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Two global talents to get Honorary Citizen Award. (2005, December 29). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Honours for 2 who helped S’pore grow. (2006, January 18). The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Tata, Tsao receive Honorary Citizen Award. (2008, August 30). The Business Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Hooi, J. (2009, October 23). Former Shell CEO to be honorary citizen. The Business Times, p. 11; Chen, G. (2010, February 26). Former Shell CEO honouredThe Straits Times, p. 3.  Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Biomed scientist gets top award. (2011, April 5). The Straits Times, p. 4; Kok, M. (2011, April 8). 12 outstanding foreigners in exclusive ‘club’. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Honorary Citizen Award for leading British geologist –educator. (2012, October 2). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
26. Chia, Y. M.  (2014, February 15). Top S’pore honour for head of Sumitomo Chemical. The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
27. Khew, C. (2015, October 22). Two foreigners made Honorary Citizens of S’pore. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/


The information in this article is valid as at 2012 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Law and government>>Constitutional law>>Citizenship
Personalities
Honorary citizenship--Singapore
Awards--Singapore