During the first year in MFA, all new FSOs get to attend a six-week long Foreign Service Basic Programme (FSBP). During my FSBP, I learnt about the work of the various MFA directorates, picked up useful tips of MFA work, and even visited our High Commission in New Delhi to learn more about India-Singapore relations, see what life is like in New Delhi, and had a great time with my batchmates!
After about a year in MFA, I was attached to our Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan as part of my 1-month Attachment to Overseas Missions (ATOM). I helped with the working visit of then-Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Maliki Osman to meet with Bruneian leaders and join in the Hari Raya festivities. Right before my current overseas posting, I went to Jakarta for a second ATOM for a hands-on experience to prepare me for my role as an Administrative Secretary, where I was involved in Mission’s Consular briefing for overseas Singaporeans, as well as beefing up security in anticipation of a protest near Mission.
When I was tasked to staff then-Non Resident Ambassador to Greece Mr Koh Yong Guan in June 2016, there was a particularly nerve wrecking moment, While I was putting the final touches on preparations for a dinner hosted by Ambassador for ASEAN diplomats, there was also a gathering of protestors demanding the government’s resignation, with tense atmospheres and security forces on standby just below us at Syntagma Square. Thankfully the protest ended peacefully, our guests arrived without issues, and the dinner was a success.
Prior to my current posting in Bangkok, I had 7 months of training (including learning the Thai language) and officially assumed post in March 2020, right around when Southeast Asia had its first Covid wave. I was coincidentally the first diplomat that entered Thailand after they closed the border – Covid is just one example of how as an FSO you will constantly be thrown curveballs and challenges, and will have to constantly adapt and learn.
Going on posting is an essential part of the FSO experience and career. It is also an honour and a privilege. You are not just working overseas, you are a diplomat representing Singapore.