Murali Pillai
3 min readMar 1, 2024

At Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (“MFA”) Committee of Supply debate on 29 February 2024, I sought details of the consular support that MFA provides to overseas Singaporeans who find themselves in distress owing to unexpected situations. My speech & SMS Sim Ann’s response on behalf of MFA are set out below.


For overseas Singaporeans who get into distress, having access to MFA’s consular services becomes critical.

I am glad to note that the hon Minister for Foreign Affairs has gone on record to stress that assisting overseas Singaporeans is a priority for his Ministry. In the Addendum to the President’s Address in April 2023, the Minister anticipated a greater demand for consular services post Covid-19. He also signalled that MFA will meet this increased demand and deliver consular services promptly and efficiently by harnessing technology and through a new corp of professional 1st responders trained to provide 24/7 consular response to Singaporeans.

What steps has MFA taken in this regard? How was technology leveraged to provide a better quality of consular services to Singaporeans? How does MFA assess Singaporeans’ satisfaction level of consular services rendered to them?

Ms Sim Ann: Mr Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to address Mr Murali and I believe also Mr Xie Yao Quan’s cut, on how MFA has leveraged technology to improve our consular services. One of the most important roles for MFA is to provide consular assistance to Singaporeans who are abroad. The volume is growing as more Singaporeans live, work and travel abroad.

In 2023, MFA handled 4,419 consular cases and facilitated the issuance of 1,535 Documents of Identity. A Document of Identity is a temporary travel document for Singaporeans who have lost their passports and which enables them to return home.

With diplomatic representation in just 56 countries, a constant challenge we face is how to provide assistance where we do not have a ground presence. To mitigate this, we continue to build a pool of professional first responders in MFA headquarters, who can render 24/7 consular support and assistance to Singaporeans overseas via phone and email. We also partner with other countries.

For example, we worked with the Republic of Korea to help evacuate five Singaporeans from Tel Aviv to Seoul in October. We also partnered the Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese governments to evacuate Singaporeans from northern Myanmar last year. Mr Murali has asked how MFA assesses Singaporeans’ satisfaction with consular services rendered to them.

We place great importance on such feedback that we receive from members of the public. We are encouraged by positive feedback that we have regularly received from citizens, but we continue to actively evaluate comments and suggestions on areas that we can improve on. We are also embracing technology to help improve the quality of our services. We have developed a consular case management system that connects our overseas missions and headquarters digitally, which allows us to better track consular cases and better coordinate the provision of assistance to Singaporeans. We will also use this data to analyse trends and thereby sharpen our ability to deliver timely assistance.



Murali Pillai

Member of Parliament, Bukit Batok SMC, Advisor to Bukit Batok SMC GROs.