The Singapore media is abuzz with rumours that screen goddess Gong Li (巩俐) — one-time girlfriend of Zhang Yimou (张艺谋) — has taken up Singaporean citizenship. It all started at a National Citizenship Ceremony last Saturday where about 150 new Singapore citizens were to take their oaths and receive their citizenship certificates. An Indian-born scientist Colin Gerard D’Silva, who works at Proctor & Gamble as associate director of external relations was seated in a chair next to the one marked for “Gong Li”, and wondered to himself if it was really the acclaimed Chinese actress or just someone with the same name. He never found out that evening because “Gong Li” never appeared, but subsequent investigation by the Sunday Times and the Straits Times found that it was almost definitely the 42 year old actress, who married a low-key Singaporean tobacco tycoon Ooi Hoe Seong (黄和祥) in 1996. Immigration authorities in Singapore have remained tight-lipped, only going so far as to confirm that a person by the name of “Gong Li” was supposed to be present at the ceremony but stopped short of revealing her identity citing confidentiality issues.
Celebrity stylist David Gan was not surprised and suggested this was ‘old news’:
‘I knew about it a few months ago. She told me she applied for a Singapore passport. I told her it’s good and I even congratulated her,’
‘Singapore is a good place. She travels a lot and it’s convenient to hold a Singapore passport. A lot of stars like to stay here too. There’s no paparazzi. When I walk down Orchard Road with Gong Li, nothing happens.’
If the rumours are anything to go by, Gong Li would have renounced her Chinese nationality as neither Singapore nor China recognise dual citizenship. It may also mean she will relinquish her role as an elected member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), in which she made a proposal on environmental issues as recently as last year.
Sentiment among the Singaporean public remains mixed. While some were more than happy to hear Gong Li has become a Singaporean, her no-show at the citizenship ceremony has also drawn flak.
Photo from Lemy Caution