Singapore Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say considers himself fortunate to be a citizen of the republic, but at the same time ignited a controversy on social media with his remarks.
In a campaign speech yesterday, the People's Action Party (PAP) candidate for East Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC) said he is "lucky for not being a citizen of China or a Malaysian".
Lim recalled how his father came to Singapore from China.
"Later my father got to know my mother, they got married and had six children.
"So this year we celebrate SG50, (Singapore's 50th anniversary) and I am thinking, if my father didn't get on the boat to Singapore, I might be a China citizen," he added.
Lim also believes that it was fortunate Singapore separated with Malaysia in 1965, otherwise Singaporeans would be Malaysians.
"Then in 1965, Singapore and Malaysia separated, because (founding father) Mr Lee Kuan Yew wanted a nation regardless of language, regardless of race - one that is equal.
"So we can't stay in Malaysia, as the tenet of Malaysia is: Malaysia belongs to the Malays. So we had no choice, we could only separate.
"So I am thinking, if we didn't separate in 1965, today you and I would be Malaysians, 'heng' (lucky) ah," he said.
A video of the speech was uploaded on Singapore's MediaCorp Channel 8 Facebook page.
A debate raged over his comments, with most netizens criticisng him and demanding that he apologise while others supporting him.
9月3日【行动党竞选集会】林瑞生 Lim Swee Say 说，“还好父亲当时决定来到新加坡，不然我现在就是中国人。Heng（幸亏） 啊！“ 林瑞生也说，还好新加坡与马来西亚分家，不然我们现在也可能是马来西亚人。“Heng（幸亏） 啊!"#sgelections #ge2015
Posted by 8频道新闻新加坡 Channel 8 news on Thursday, 3 September 2015