A naturalised Singaporean, who was part of a global match-fixing ring, is set to be stripped of his citizenship for his criminal activities - the first such case in three decades.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the 43-year-old, whom it did not name, was yesterday served with a notice informing him of this. The Straits Times understands that the man is former S-League player Gaye Alassane, who was born in Mali and spent one season with Gombak United.
He was detained without trial in 2013 under the Criminal Law (Temporary Provisions) Act for about two years, and is now under supervision by the police.
Under the Constitution, the Government can deprive naturalised Singaporeans of their citizenship for reasons that include showing disloyalty to the country or engaging in criminal activities that place at risk public safety, peace or good order.
Singaporeans by birth cannot be deprived of their citizenship for such reasons. But they can be stripped of it if they acquire a foreign passport as Singapore does not allow dual citizenship. This can also happen if they are 18 or older and stayed abroad for a continuous 10-year period in which they were not, for instance, working for the Government or an international organisation Singapore is a member of.
MHA said yesterday: "Singapore citizenship comes with privileges and benefits, as well as duties and obligations. Individuals who have been granted citizenship should cherish it and not act contrary to national interests. Those who undertake activities that prejudice our security or public safety, peace and good order deserve to have their citizenship status deprived."
Former S-League player Gaye Alassane could soon join the ranks of naturalised Sin-gaporeans who have had their citizenship stripped - these individuals run the gamut from a prominent Chinese community leader to a drug trafficker.
Before Alassane, the last case of a naturalised Singaporean stripped of his citizenship over criminal acts was in 1987. In that case, the man had committed various serious offences, including drug trafficking, the Ministry of Home Affairs said. It declined to provide more details.
Under the Constitution, the Government may also deprive naturalised Singaporeans of citizenship for reasons such as concealing past criminal records or showing disloyalty to Singapore.
During Singapore's earlier years, some naturalised Singaporeans had their citizenship stripped for allegedly taking part in communist activities.
China-born Kuo Pao Kun was nabbed under the Internal Security Act for alleged communist activities in 1976 and stripped of his citizenship. After his release from detention more than four years later, he went on to produce some of Singapore theatre's seminal works.
He received Singapore's highest honour in the arts, the Cultural Medallion, in 1990, and had his citizenship reinstated two years later.
China-born Tan Lark Sye - who founded the former Nanyang University - had his citizenship stripped in 1964. There has been no change in his status since then.
The Government said he had "engaged in activities prejudicial to the security and public order of Malaya and Singapore, in particular, in advancing the communist cause".
Other cases include Mr Lim Jee Leong and Mr Lee Seng Chong, who were stripped of their citizenship in 1967. They were earlier detained for having "participated extensively in the promotion of Communist Union Front activities".
Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh
The last such case was in 1987, when a naturalised Singaporean was stripped of his citizenship after committing offences that include drug trafficking. MHA declined to give the total number of such cases.
In Alassane's case, the Home Affairs Minister decided on this course of action after considering the nature and operations of his global match-fixing syndicate, the extent of his involvement, the severity of his criminal activities and the public interest, said MHA.
Alassane told The Straits Times yesterday: "Yes, I did those things, but everybody makes mistakes, no? I thought I paid for mine already. I don't know what to say now."
He can apply within 21 days for his case to be referred to a three-member Citizenship Committee of Inquiry, which according to the Constitution must be chaired by a "person qualified to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court".
The committee will submit a report to the Home Affairs Minister, who will decide on the case. If Alassane is stripped of his citizenship, he will be rendered stateless. This means he must stay in Singapore on a Special Pass and cannot enjoy privileges accorded to Singapore citizens. He will not be allowed to apply for a Singapore passport, MHA said.
Alassane married a Singaporean, and obtained his citizenship in 2003 under the Family Ties Scheme. There was no information then to suggest he was involved in any criminal activity, said MHA. But he later became an "active and trusted member" of an international match-fixing syndicate based in Singapore.
He conspired with his syndicate members to fix football matches in various countries by corrupting officials and players, said MHA. It added Alassane helped move bribe monies for his syndicate into Singapore, and remitted - and personally couriered - these bribes out of the country to facilitate match-fixing activities.
AT A LOSS FOR WORDS
Yes, I did those things, but everybody makes mistakes, no? I thought I paid for mine already. I don't know what to say now.
GAYE ALASSANE, on having his citizenship taken away because of criminal activities.
Alassane's serious criminal conduct undermined not only the integrity of Singapore's financial system, but also law and order, MHA said. "Witnesses were afraid of testifying against the individual and his syndicate members in open court for fear of reprisal."