DR. VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan is the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative.
He previously served as Minister for the Environment and Water Resources; Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports; Second Minister for Trade and Industry; Minister-in-charge of Entrepreneurship; and Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts. He has been a Member of Parliament since 2001.
He studied Medicine at the National University of Singapore after being awarded the President’s Scholarship in 1980. Following post-graduate specialist training in Ophthalmology, he was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1991.
He was appointed Medical Director of the Singapore National Eye Centre in 1999 and CEO of the Singapore General Hospital in 2000. Concurrently, he was Commanding Officer of the 2nd Combat Support Hospital of the Singapore Armed Forces from 1999 to 2002.
Dr Balakrishnan has helmed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) since October 2015. Singapore was Chair of ASEAN in 2018. Singapore also hosted the landmark Singapore Summit between the leaders of the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the same year. During the COVID-19 pandemic, MFA embarked on a massive consular effort to bring home Singaporeans stranded overseas.
Dr Balakrishnan has driven the digital transformation of Singapore into a Smart Nation since 2014. He led the implementation of key initiatives such as SingPass Mobile and MyInfo, e-payment systems, and sensor platforms. He shaped policy frameworks like the Digital Government Blueprint, National Artificial Intelligence Strategy, and Public Sector Data Security Review.
On climate action, Dr Balakrishnan was a ministerial facilitator for many rounds of negotiations between 2011 to 2015 that led to the Paris Agreement on climate change at the United Nations. After Singapore experienced the worst episode of transboundary haze pollution in 2013, he initiated the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act in 2014 to deter offending entities (local and overseas) that cause haze.
Dr Balakrishnan rolled out numerous key initiatives and policies throughout his political career. At the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, he increased the capacity for desalination and NEWater production substantially. He initiated the building of new hawker centres to ensure that everyone has access to a wide variety of good, fresh, and affordable food in an informal setting, and to enable local hawkers to make a good living. Cleaners became the first group of workers to enjoy increased wages and better terms of employment through legislation that provided for the Progressive Wage Model in 2014. At the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, he established the ComCare system to enhance comprehensive social assistance for all Singaporeans in need. At the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts, he worked on the National Broadband Fibre Network project to bring ultra-high speed, low-cost, and efficient fibre broadband to all households and enterprises in Singapore.
Dr Balakrishnan also moved new legislation and amendments to existing legislation in Parliament, including the Mental Capacity Act, which provides for Lasting Power of Attorney so that seniors can nominate a proxy.