Engaging Overseas Singaporeans (Part I)

Engaging Overseas Singaporeans (Part 1 - Introducing Overseas Singaporean Unit)

Hi Singaporeans,

I'm writing this to create an awareness about the Overseas Singaporean Unit. (OSU) Many of you may not even heard of the OSU. In fact, I only heard knew about them last week when my buddy in Singapore sent this newspaper cutting to me last week. From this cutting I found that there is a network set up here in Perth called Singaporean-Western Australia Network (SWAN).

I cringed a bit at the corny usage of SWAN as an acronym because the Swan River in Perth is an iconic River that cuts through Perth and divide the city into two, unofficially known as "North of River" and "South of River". Playing with acronyms is so ... establishment and it reminds me of unhappy things such as ERP, HDB and such. Maybe that's the point. But this is just me and that's not the main point. Basically SWAN is in close connection with the Overseas Singaporean Unit (OSU) back home in Singapore. Think of it as an outpost.

So what is Overseas Singaporean Unit?

The OSU was set up under the Prime Minister's Office in 2006. Their mission statement is:

"The OSU plans and co-ordinates multi-agency programmes and initiatives to engage Overseas Singaporeans (OS) and strengthen their connection to home and fellow Singaporeans."

Straightforward. So you get an idea. There are a total of 24 staff in this department as of today. It comprises of:

1 Director
1 PA to the Director
1 Deputy Director
1 Head of Department
2 Assistant Directors
1 Manager
1 Senior Executive
9 Executives
5 Liaison Officers
1 Management Support Officer
1 Corporate Support Officer


For a department strength of 24 requiring 4 director level staff to lead them, this must be a very important unit indeed. On a side note, I can't really figure out the difference between a Deputy Director and an Assistant Director with my secondary school level education. Why don't they make a 5th director since they seemed to be shorthanded? I don't mind taking up the role. I'll take the Assistant Deputy Director (Overseas propaganda engagement) position if they don't mind. I think I'm a good fit.

Mind you, you think any of you Ah Mao Ah Kow can be director or deputy assistant director in government sector? Not me, with secondary school level for sure. Back to the point, as you know, each of these scholars doesn't come cheap - and these of course come from taxpayer's contribution. Your money. So it's fair for me to say OSU is a pretty expensive department to run so it must be really important.

I'll leave it to you to decide

In Part 2, I am going to discuss the motivations of the OSU.

Thank you. Seeya.


  1. Hey! This is misusing tax payers' money! Why need so many directors or parasites? What sort of work they actually do or did for the tens of thousands overseas Sinkies? I wonder?

  2. Try dealing with the Singapore embassy (and they try to steer us to this "networking" thingiemajig as wel), and they try their darnest to infringe your privacy as best as they can.

    None of their bloody business, IMHO. It's a scam with a huge privacy invasion agenda.

  3. Leave them (OSU) alone unless desperate for some consular support.

    If you already have a network of friends, you don't really need any foreign government help.

  4. Trust me mate, OSU was totally different 6-7years ago. Back then, SG govt was trying to get as many FTs to go work in SG.

    Do you the type of OSU events that were held back then? They invited the Sillyporeans here in Brisbane to a social dinner (paid by SG govt, something rare right?) at a local restaurant.

    It started out pretty informal, but their govt driven agenda soon reared its ugly head.

    Do you know what they ask of us in return for the dinner? They ask that we get our colleagues/workmates to contact OSU so as to offer them a chance to work in SG!

    We were all stunned silent and was like 'WTF'? Why not engage the overseas Sillyporeans to go back instead? We so xia suay meh? Our colleagues/workmates can be considered talent but we are considered crap just because we are Sillyporeans?!? I hope they do realize we work at the same level as our colleagues/workmates?

    A lot of us shunned OSU after that. Many (IIRC I myself as well) made 'interesting' feedback about the OSU event/s when requested.

    Somehow 1-2 years later the OSU changed, but their name is already rotten so who gives a crap!

    Jeff Lim

  5. SWAN has been on the internet for a while but find it not so useful after visiting its website as a new migrant coming from S'pore and going to Aust.

  6. My general experience with director-level public staff, is the Director is an important figurehead, the Deputy Director is de facto executive of the broad picture, and Assistant Directors do the work in their specific areas.

    1. No. Trust me, I from gahmen before.

      Director is just the head of the department. Sets broad picture, maintains budget of the department, staffing, responsibility of overall performance of the department.

      DY Director, is right hand man, basically runs the department itself, think of this person as a front line manager. (No overall responsibility of the department, no department budget oversight. Simply, a sweet spot in govt mgt to be in.)

      Assistant Directors are basically workers on a higher pay scale.

      There is also a grade called Senior Director, Senior Deputy Director, and Senior Assistant Director. The difference is in the pay scale. (Govt workers who rot too long in the job and reached the end of their previous pay scale gets promoted into this level. In govt culture, it also means you will retire at this level cause if they think you are any good, they would have promoted you into the next grade.)

      Further, there are rare exceptions that from the Assistant Director level onwards are filled by non-graduates. And no, even the Director grades are no high in the govt scheme of things. They only sound big to the outside world. In govt circles, they can't even approve anything more than 10k.

  7. waiting patiently for part 2!

  8. Job opportunities to monitor those ppl who have since migrated...?
    S'poreans in S'pore pls find out what this investment bring?

  9. Hope you don't mind if I had shared part of this article re: OSU with our chappies here in Palmerston North, NZ....

  10. Be careful of which association you join. A website that is linked to the government has to have some political motivations for being set up in the first place.

    A tiger does not change its stripes.

    Do not think that your pm's "private messages" in the forum are really that private after all.

  11. It seems that whatever the Pappies came out with always have their driven agenda, etc.

    Indeed, a "Pappy" does not change its stripes. SINKapore is super "sway" (unfortunate) to be ruled & controlled by such a damn self-serving party.

  12. Be wary of those migrants from Sg and who are keen supporters of such Association - SWAN, or Temasek Club... They come in many forms.

  13. Shameless Pappies...

  14. hmmm i heard some stories while i was in sydney .anyway i will share w u in privte. when u r more free or u are gg to write again. apps me, i will tell u a true story

  15. Well well well. 4m for a party in NYC.