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Vivian Balakrishnan

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Vivian Balakrishnan
விவியன் பாலகிருஷ்ணன்
Vivian Balakrishnan - 2010.jpg
Vivian Balakrishnan
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
1 October 2015
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Preceded by K. Shanmugam
Constituency Holland-Bukit Timah GRC
Member of Parliament
for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC
Assumed office
27 April 2006
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources
In office
21 May 2011 – 30 September 2015
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Preceded by Yaacob Ibrahim
Succeeded by Masagos Zulkifli
Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports
In office
12 August 2004 – 20 May 2011
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Preceded by Yaacob Ibrahim
Succeeded by Chan Chun Sing (acting minister)
Member of Parliament
for Holland-Bukit Panjang GRC
In office
25 October 2001 – 19 April 2006
Personal details
Born (1961-01-25) 25 January 1961 (age 56)
Nationality Singaporean
Political party People's Action Party
Spouse(s) Joy Balakrishnan
Children 4

Vivian Balakrishnan (born 25 January 1961), FRCS, is the Singapore Minister for Foreign Affairs and a member of the governing People's Action Party (PAP). He is also the Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Programme Office.[2] He has previously held appointments in the Singapore Cabinet as Minister for Environment and Water Resources and Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, as well as the Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, and Trade and Industry. In 2002, Balakrishnan was appointed a Minister of State at the Ministry of National Development, and the Chairman of the Remaking Singapore Committee. He was also the Chairman of the Young PAP from 2004 to 2008. He is a Member of Parliament (MP) representing the Holland-Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency.

Balakrishnan studied medicine at the National University of Singapore on a President's Scholarship.[3] He later pursued postgraduate education in ophthalmology and was admitted as a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He was appointed as an associate professor at the National University of Singapore and became the medical director of Singapore National Eye Centre. He was also the chief executive of Singapore General Hospital. Prior to the commencement of his political career, he served as the commanding officer of second Combat Support Hospital of the Singapore Armed Forces.

His team was elected uncontested during his first and second candidacy for the Parliament at Holland-Bukit Panjang GRC and Holland-Bukit Timah GRC respectively. In the 2015 general election, Balakrishnan's team, including Liang Eng Hwa, Christopher de Souza and Sim Ann, defeated the opposing team from Singapore Democratic Party with 66.62% of the votes. He joined the cabinet on 12 August 2004.

Early life and education

Vivian Balakrishnan was born in 1961 to a Tamil father and a Chinese mother with ancestry from Fuqing, Fujian.[4][5] He had his primary and secondary education at Anglo-Chinese School, before going on to National Junior College. After graduating from junior college in 1980, he was awarded a President's Scholarship to study medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS). He served two terms as the president of the NUS Student Union, and later served as chairman of the union council. While serving as NUSSU president, he was noted as being against the Graduate Mothers' Scheme,[6] which favoured the children of mothers with a university degree in primary school placement and registration process over the lesser-educated. He chose a postgraduate specialisation in ophthalmology and became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1991.[citation needed]

Medical career

From 1993 to 1995, Balakrishnan worked at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London as a specialist senior registrar, where he subspecialised in paediatric ophthalmology. He later returned to Singapore, where he was appointed as a consultant ophthalmologist at the Singapore National Eye Centre and National University Hospital, and an associate professor of ophthalmology at the National University of Singapore in 1998. In 1999, he was appointed the Medical Director of the Singapore National Eye Centre, and later became chief executive officer of the Singapore General Hospital in 2000.[7] Balakrishnan was also the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Combat Support Hospital of the Singapore Armed Forces from 1999 to 2002.[citation needed] In the 1990s, he hosted the series Health Matters on Singapore television.[8]

Legislative and policy record

New legislation

  • Competition Act[9]
  • Community Care Endowment Fund Act
  • Mental Capacity Act
  • International Child Abduction Act
  • Energy Conservation Act[10]
  • Transboundary Haze Pollution Act[11]

Amendments to existing legislation

  • Children Development Co-Savings Act
  • Children and Young Persons Act
  • Women’s Charter
  • Charities Act
  • Hindu Endowments Board (HEB)
  • Postal Services
  • Animals and Birds Act
  • Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority
  • Sale of Food Act
  • Public Utilities Act[12]
  • Sewerage and Drainage Act[12]
  • Environmental Public Health Act[13]
  • Radiation Protection Act[14]

Ministry of Community Development Youth & Sports

  • implemented the Comcare Social Assistance framework
  • implemented the Enabling Masterplan for persons with disabilities
  • established the Central Youth Guidance Office
  • created a formal accreditation process for social workers
  • upgraded the Childcare sector by doubling subsidies for parents, elevating teaching standards and increasing the number of childcare centres
  • built *SCAPE,[15] a focal point for youth in Singapore
  • redeveloped the National Stadium into the Singapore Sports Hub
  • In 2010, Balakrishnam, then Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, received criticism for his failure to keep to the Youth Olympics budget and letting it tripled from the initial estimates of $107 million to $387 million.[16] He admitted his team underestimated the requirement and costs for the event.[17][18] When asked if he would have pushed for hosting the Games if he knew it would exceed the forecast budget, Balakrishnam responded that Singapore would still benefit from the global exposure which will make the investment worthwhile.[19] In the run-up to the 2011 election campaign, Balakrishnam affirmed his belief that the event was a success.[20]
  • Balakrishnam established the Comcare Endowment Fund. During the National Day Rally 2011 held on 14 August 2011 at the National University of Singapore University Cultural Centre, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that 200,000 Singaporeans have been helped since the inception of Comcare. National Day Rally 2011

Balakrishnan also appointed the following government organisations:

  • National Family Council,
  • Charities Council
  • Community Foundation
  • National Steering Committee on Racial & Religious Harmony
  • National Integration Council
  • Centre for 3rd Age
  • National Council against Problem Gambling.

Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts

He supervised the design and deployment of the Next Generation National Broadband Network.[21]

Ministry of Trade and Industry

Whilst at MTI from 2003 to 2006, he oversaw tourism, energy and science & technology portfolios. He coordinated the Project team that facilitated the development of the two Integrated Resorts.[22]

Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources

  • Appointed an expert panel on 11 June 2011 to conduct an in-depth review of all flood protection measures that will be implemented in Singapore over the next decade.[23] PUB, Singapore's national water agency, accepted the recommendations of the expert panel on 30 January 2012.[24]
  • Handed over four waterworks (Tebrau, Gunong Pulai, Skudai and Pontian) to the state of Johor on 31 August 2011, upon the expiry of the 1961 Water Agreement with Malaysia.[25]
  • Announced the building of 10 new hawker centres on 8 October 2011, 26 years after the last hawker centre was built in Singapore in 1985.[26] The first hawker centre in Bukit Panjang is scheduled for completion in 2015 and the rest are scheduled to be completed by 2017.[27]
  • Appointed a hawker centre public consultation panel to provide ideas for the management models, design, as well as how to achieve vibrancy and nurture social graciousness for the new hawker centres in November 2011, and accepted its recommendations on 10 May 2012.[28]
  • Overhauled hawker centre rental policies to stabilise rentals for stallholders. From 1 April 2012, full day subletting and stall assignments for new tenancies, as well as the setting of reserve rents when tendering out vacant stalls, were discontinued. Joint tenancies were also allowed to ease the burden of operating a stall.[29]
  • Set up the Department of Public Cleanliness on 1 April 2012 to integrate the cleaning of public areas and improve service standards and responsiveness to public feedback on cleanliness.[30][31]
  • Installed surveillance cameras at locations with persistent high-rise littering issues from September 2012.[32][33]
  • Reduced the number of public waste collection sectors from nine to six and aggregated waste collection fees, to be progressively implemented over several years from 2012.[34]
  • Adopted higher 2020 air quality targets for six major pollutants based on the World Health Organisation’s Air Quality Guidelines.[35]
  • Relaunched the tray return programme for all hawker centres on 11 November 2012.[36]
  • Extended the smoking ban to the common areas of residential premises, sheltered walkways/linkways, overhead bridges, outdoor hospital compounds, and a five-metre radius around bus shelters, from 15 January 2013.[37]
  • Commenced the development of Phase 2 of the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System, which is targeted for completion by 2022, on 12 March 2013.[38]
  • Announced the development of Phase 2 of the Semakau Landfill, which is scheduled for completion by the second quarter of 2015 and the building of a waste-to-energy incineration plant, on 12 March 2013.[39]
  • Launched the Centre for Climate Research Singapore, the world’s first centre for tropical climate and weather research, on 26 March 2013.[40]
  • Made energy management practices and reporting mandatory for large energy users in the industry and transport sectors from 22 April 2013 under the Energy Conservation Act.[41]
  • Stepped up efforts to deal with the dengue epidemic which started in 2013, including beefing up the number of dengue control officers, boosting the indoor application of insecticides, and distributing insect repellents to all households, on 11 June 2013.[42]
  • Launched a scheme to empower community volunteers to educate and encourage litterbugs against the act, which started in July 2013.[43]
  • Spearheaded the setting up of a haze monitoring system by ASEAN, with digitised land use maps and concession maps of fire-prone areas that cause transboundary haze, to be shared on a Government-to-Government basis. This was approved by the ASEAN leaders at the 23rd ASEAN Summit on 9 October 2013.[44][45][46]
  • Accelerated drainage improvement plans on 7 November 2013. PUB will be working on about 200 drainage improvement projects in 2014.[47]
  • Announced the implementation of a mandatory licensing scheme in 2014 for the cleaning industry to uplift the industry to deliver better service standards while ensuring better employment conditions for cleaners.[48]
  • Implemented an integrated air quality reporting index from 1 April 2014, with PM2.5 incorporated into the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) as its sixth pollutant parameter.[49]

Personal life

He is married to Joy Balakrishnan,[50] and they have a daughter and three sons.[51]

See also


  1. ^ "Facebook - Vivian Balakrishnan". Retrieved 11 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "Smart Nation an opportunity to ‘shift tone of society’: Vivian Balakrishnan". Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved 2017-08-09. 
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Dr Balakrishnan: ‘PAP not afraid of differences of opinion’". AsiaOne. Retrieved 2017-08-09. 
  7. ^ "About Vivian Balakrishnan - Vivian Balakrishnan". 22 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-10. 
  8. ^ Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan profile., April 2008.
  9. ^ "Second Reading Speech in Parliament". 
  10. ^ "Energy Conservation Bill second reading". MEWR. 
  11. ^ "Speech by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, for the Second Reading of the Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill, 4 Aug 2014". MEWR. 
  12. ^ a b Second Reading speech on amendments to Public Utilities Act and Sewerage and Drainage Act. "Amendments to Public Utilities Act and Sewerage and Drainage Act". MEWR. 
  13. ^ Second Reading Speech on Amendments to Environmental Public Health Act. "Speech by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources for the Second Reading of the Environmental Public Health (Amendment) Bill, 17 Feb 2014". MEWR. 
  14. ^ "Speech by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, for the Second Reading of the Radiation Protection (Amendment) Bill, 7 Jul 2014". MEWR. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Singaporeans demand more transparency on blown YOG budget". 2010-09-17. Retrieved 2017-08-09. 
  17. ^ "Games-Singapore defends Youth Olympics cost overrun". Reuters. 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2017-08-09. 
  18. ^ Teo, Wan Gek (2010-09-16). "YOG budget estimate fell short due to inexperience". The Straits Times. 
  19. ^ "Worth it despite tripled budget". Retrieved 2017-08-09. 
  20. ^ "Why the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore was a success". Retrieved 2017-08-09. 
  21. ^ InfoComm Development Authority of Singapore. "Singapore: A Vibrant Buzzing Business Hub, Powered By Infocomm". 
  22. ^ Balakrishnan, Vivian. "Speech by Minister for Community Development Youth & Sports Dr Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament on 18 April 2005" (PDF). 
  23. ^ Yahoo News Singapore. "Expert panel to review flood protection measures in S’pore". 
  24. ^ PUB Press Release. "PUB revamps drainage approach to strengthen Singapore's flood resilience". 
  25. ^ AsiaOne News. "Johor considers improving water assets returned by Singapore". 
  26. ^ News Singapore Youtube Channel. "10 new hawker centres to be built after 26 years". 
  27. ^ National Environment Agency Press Release. "New Hawker Centre At Bukit Panjang To Be Completed By 2nd Quarter 2015". 
  29. ^ MEWR website. "Speech by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Committee of Supply Debate, 12 March 2013 (Part 1)". 
  30. ^ Vivian Balakrishnan blog. "Speech delivered in Parliament on 6 March 2012 during Committee of Supply". 
  31. ^ AsiaOne News 30 Mar 2012. "New hotline for public to report cleanliness problems". 
  32. ^ Oneberry Technologies Youtube Channel. "Surveillance cameras installed to deter high-rise litterbugs". 
  33. ^ MEWR website. "Written Reply by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources to Parliamentary Question on Measures against High-Rise Littering, 11 Nov 2013". 
  34. ^ NEA website. "A New Uniform Fee for Waste Collection". 
  35. ^ News MEWR Press Release. "Singapore to adopt higher air quality targets, 23 Aug 2012". 
  36. ^ 154thmedia2013 Youtube Channel. "Push for tray return to start at 9 food centres - 03Nov2012". 
  37. ^ AsiaOne News. "Ban on smoking in more areas from January - 12 Nov 2012". 
  38. ^ MEWR website. "Speech by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Committee of Supply Debate, 12 March 2013 (Part 2)". 
  39. ^ MEWR website. "Speech by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Committee of Supply Debate, 12 March 2013 (Part 2)". 
  40. ^ NEA News Release. "World's First Centre For Tropical Climate And Weather Research Launched". 
  41. ^ Business AsiaOne. "Energy efficiency regulations for industry users start from April 22". 
  42. ^ NEA News Release. "NEA Steps Up Efforts To Mitigate Possible Worsening Of Dengue Situation". 
  43. ^ TODAY Online 30 Jul 2013. "More volunteers to squash litterbugs". 
  44. ^ MEWR Press Release. "Media Release for 15th Meeting of the Sub-Regional Ministerial Steering Committee (MSC) on Transboundary Haze Pollution 17 Jul 2013". 
  45. ^ MEWR Parliamentary Q&A. "Oral Reply by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, on Haze". 
  46. ^ MEWR Website. "Joint Press Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources at the 23rd ASEAN-Summit". 
  47. ^ Vivian Balakrishnan Facebook. "PUB will be working on 200 drainage projects island wide within the next 12 months...". 
  48. ^ MEWR Speeches. "Speech by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources for the Second Reading of the Environmental Public Health (Amendment) Bill, 17 Feb 2014". 
  49. ^ TODAY Online. "New air quality reporting system from April 1". 
  50. ^ "Two former First Ladies attend Girl Guides event". AsiaOne. Retrieved 2017-08-09. 
  51. ^ Chew, Hui Min (2016-01-01). "Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan is now a grandpa, possibly the youngest in Cabinet". The Straits Times. Retrieved 2017-08-09. 

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
John Chen
Minister of State, Ministry of National Development
Succeeded by
Grace Fu Hai Yien
as Senior Minister of State
Preceded by
Yaacob Ibrahim
Minister for Community Development Youth and Sports
Acting: 2004-2005
Succeeded by
Chan Chun Sing
as Acting Minister
Preceded by
Yaacob Ibrahim
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources
2011 – 2015
Succeeded by
Masagos Zulkifli
New office Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Programme Office
2014 – present
Preceded by
K. Shanmugam
Minister for Foreign Affairs
2015 – present
Party political offices
Preceded by
Lim Swee Say
Chairman, Young PAP
Succeeded by
Teo Ser Luck