Want refund for bad sex? Call 1800-MFA
SURELY, there are limits to the call of duty - and some Singaporeans expect their consular officers to go way beyond those.
One wanted a refund for bad sex in a foreign country, said Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam. So he asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to intervene.
"He wasn't satisfied with what he had gotten. We had to tell him that MFA could not help!" said Mr Shanmugam in a Facebook post yesterday.
The MFA also declined to intervene when a man demanded an investigation into alleged racial discrimination when he was overseas. The man had claimed "he received a smaller piece of KFC chicken, compared to what the locals had".
"He wanted MFA to investigate this instance and seek justice in that foreign country for the unfair treatment he claimed to have received," Mr Shanmugam said.
In another case, a Singaporean man was turned away by consular officers after he sought their help to persuade his foreign girlfriend to divorce her husband, so that he could marry her.
"We want Singaporeans to marry and have children. But there are limits," wrote Mr Shanmugam.
"We have to draw the line between what is personal responsibility and what's not."
The light-hearted post was accompanied by a cartoon of an angry-looking man in an embassy gesturing at the counter staff.
The post was shared widely, with one Facebook user describing it as an account of "the entitlement mentality of some Singaporeans".
The post also mentioned the case of a Singaporean who insisted it was MFA's responsibility to retrieve a kitchen appliance he had left behind in a foreign country because he had no money to pay for excess baggage.
Another Singaporean, living in Indonesia, requested that MFA ship to him a desktop computer that he had ordered online from the US.
Mr Shanmugam said that the number of overseas trips made by Singaporeans surged to seven million last year, compared to 3.6 million a decade ago.
"We handled over 3,000 consular cases last year. Many cases are genuine. But sometimes we do get odd requests," he said.
But Singapore is not alone.
In May last year, the British Foreign Office said its embassies had been asked if they could silence a noisy cockerel, order an unfit husband to shape up, and check out the credentials of a woman one man had met online.