Neo Kian Hong

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Neo Kian Hong
Neo KH Photo.jpg
Current appointment Permanent Secretary (Defence Development) in the Ministry of Defence (2017 – 2018)
Previous appointment Permanent Secretary (Education Development) in the Ministry of Education (2013 – 2017)
Military Service
Allegiance  Singapore
Service/branch Singapore Armed Forces
Years of service 1983 – 2013
Rank Lieutenant-General
Last Command Held Chief of Defence Force (2010 – 2013)
Neo Kian Hong
Traditional Chinese 梁建鴻
Simplified Chinese 梁建鸿

Neo Kian Hong is a Singaporean civil servant who is currently Permanent Secretary (Defence Development).[1] He joined the civil service and became Permanent Secretary (Education Development) for the Ministry of Education in 2013, after retiring from the Singapore Armed Forces as its seventh Chief of Defence Force.


Neo received his secondary education in Victoria School, where he was also a National Cadet Corps cadet,[2] After his pre-university education in Nanyang Junior College,[3] he was awarded the Singapore Armed Forces Overseas Scholarship in 1985 and graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Upper Second Class Honours) degree in electrical and electronic engineering from King's College London. He subsequently completed a Master of Science degree in management of technology from the MIT Sloan School of Management.[4] He also completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School in 2013.[5]

Military career[edit]

Neo joined the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in 1983. Throughout his 30-year service in the SAF, he held various appointments, including: Commanding Officer, 1st Battalion Singapore Guards; Assistant Chief of the General Staff (Operations); Chief of Staff, Joint Staff; Chief of Army (2007–2010).[4] He served as the SAF's contingent commander for the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET) in 1999 and as the Director of Operations, Ministry of Health, during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, he was involved in establishing the national contact and tracing system in Singapore.[6]

In 2010, Neo was appointed as the SAF's Chief of Defence Force (CDF) and was promoted from the rank of Major-General to Lieutenant-General.[7]

He was succeeded by Ng Chee Meng in 2013 when he retired that year.[8]

Civil career[edit]

After leaving the SAF, Neo joined the civil service and was appointed as the Permanent Secretary (Education Development) in the Ministry of Education (MOE) on 1 July 2013. In MOE, he was part of senior management who helped to formulate and implement education policies, and to oversee the development and management of schools. In particular, he contributed to the development of MOE's Outdoor Education Masterplan and Digital Plan to build resilient mind, body and cohesion amongst students. It includes the building and upgrading of outdoor adventure centres for MOE to accommodate cohort camps at three levels: P5, S1 and S3. The Digital Plan improves the way students learn by using technology and further develops communication between parents and schools.

Neo was appointed as Permanent Secretary (Defence Development) in the Ministry of Defence in 2017. In this role, his portfolio covers defence research and technology, capability development and acquisitions, and defence administration. He is also currently Chairman of DSO National Laboratories and of Defence Science and Technology Agency, and serves as a non-independent and non-executive director on the ST Engineering Ltd board.[6]


  1. ^ Yong, Charissa (2017-05-22). "Three SAF high-flyers in new permanent secretary appointments and portfolio shuffles". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2017-08-12. 
  2. ^ "Speech by Mr Masagos Zulkifli BMM, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Home Affairs, at the 10th NCC Affirmation Ceremony on Saturday, 10th April 2010, at the Singapore Expo Hall 2 at 3.00pm". MOE. Archived from the original on 1 September 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "Distinguished Alumni". Nanyang Junior College. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "Change in Chief of Defence Force and Chief of Army". MINDEF. 15 January 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Mr Neo Kian Hong to be Permanent Secretary (Education Development)". Press Release, Public Service Division. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "More about Mr Neo Kian Hong" (PDF). SMRT. 18 April 2018. Retrieved 19 April 2018. 
  7. ^ "SAF Leadership". MINDEF. 
Government offices
Preceded by
Mr. Desmond Kuek
Group CEO of SMRT Corporation
from 1 August 2018
Preceded by
Lieutenant-General Desmond Kuek
7th Chief of Defence Force
31 March 2010 – 26 March 2013
Succeeded by
Major-General Ng Chee Meng
Preceded by
Major-General Desmond Kuek
Chief of the Singapore Army
20 March 2007 – 26 March 2010
Succeeded by
Brigadier-General Chan Chun Sing