RSIS, in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affair’s (MFA) Diplomatic Academy, held a book launch for “Beyond the Handshake: Singapore’s Foreign Service” on 29 March 2023. The launch featured Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman as the Guest of Honour, and also saw remarks from RSIS Executive Deputy Chairman, Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, and Mr Lawrence Anderson, editor of the book and former Singapore Ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Mr Anderson recalled how, in compiling these reflections, he attempted to chronologically align them with the story of Singapore’s development – from independence to its current high-tech global city status. Pointing to the Cambodian Crisis in the 1980s, Mr Anderson remarked how it served as a baptism of fire for Singapore’s foreign service in learning the value of developing close bonds with its regional neighbours. Additionally, despite Singapore’s small size, its dynamic foreign service enabled the country to maintain a global reach and contribute positively to regional peace, shared economic growth, and prosperity.
Dr Maliki also recognised the unwavering dedication and personal sacrifices made by the officers of Singapore’s foreign service as they carry out their duties, in cases such as the repatriation of Singaporeans from Wuhan, China, in early 2020, during the onset of COVID-19.
Overall, the book focuses on the less well-known work of Singapore’s career diplomats, with a compilation of reflections of 21 retired ambassadors and senior officials and how their foreign postings advanced Singapore’s national interests. Through their stories and experiences, it is hoped that a younger generation of Singaporeans will appreciate the hard work and sacrifices made by pioneer and veteran members of Singapore’s foreign service in implementing our foreign policy, and to promote and protect Singapore’s strategic goals and security.