SINGAPORE: The Foreign Affairs Ministry handled close to 4,000 consular cases in 2012.
Demands from Singaporeans for prompt and effective consular services are increasing.
Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Sam Tan said in Parliament on Friday that most consular requests were reasonable and help was rendered. But he added there are limits to what can be done.
Mr Tan said: "We do face a fair number of unreasonable and weird requests. Let me cite a few examples. We had a request for assistance to seek a refund from a Singaporean after he had procured illegal sexual services. Another case was a Singaporean living in Indonesia, and he requested MFA to ship to him a desktop computer that he had ordered online from the US. Another Singaporean had also sought MFA’s assistance to persuade his foreign girlfriend to expedite her divorce proceedings with her husband so that he could marry her. Such requests divert our limited resources from handling cases of Singaporeans in genuine distress."
Member of Parliament for Chua Chu Kang GRC Alex Yam asked if consular officers are adequately paid for their work.
Mr Tan replied: "Foreign service officers are paid within the overall framework of the civil service. Although their pay scale may be slightly different, they are still within the framework. However as the civil service, we will periodically review all the terms and conditions to make sure the foreign service officers will remain a happy lot."
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