QUESTION:

Ms Sylvia Lim: To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs (a) what proportion and number of Singapore's current Heads of Overseas Missions are career diplomats and political appointees respectively; and (b) what are the specific considerations to determine which Missions will be headed by career diplomats as opposed to political appointees.

REPLY:

1 No resident Heads of Overseas Missions are political appointees. All our resident Ambassadors are Foreign Service Officers, recruited and appointed strictly based on merit, like the entire Foreign Service and indeed Civil Service.

2 Our diplomats operate in a challenging and uncertain global environment. They are expected to robustly defend and advance Singapore's interests in the international arena. To build the strongest possible team of diplomats for Singapore, the Foreign Service recruits both fresh graduates and mid-career professionals through rigorous recruitment processes. In particular, mid-career officers are considered based on their past experience, performance and relevant skillsets. Appointments of senior Foreign Service Officers are also subject to approval by the Special Personnel Board in the Civil Service or Public Service Commission. Currently, about 10% of Ambassador-level Heads of Missions joined MFA mid-career.

3 Our guiding principle is to appoint the best person for the job, whether he or she has joined the Foreign Service as a fresh graduate or mid-career recruit. We will not allow any compromise to the professionalism and excellence of our Foreign Service.

Source: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS SINGAPORE