SINGAPORE: Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan was every inch the proud grandpa in his latest social media post, putting up a picture of himself looking tenderly at his newest grandchild.

“New life is so precious,” he wrote.

Congratulations have been pouring in from many Facebook and Instagram users, including Dr Balakrishnan’s fellow PAP MPs Tan Kiat How and Wan Rizal, runner Ashley Liew, and opposition leader Ravi Philemon. His post has also been shared by some high-profile individuals, like Senior Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching.

The minister and his wife, Joy, who have been married since 1987, have three sons and a daughter. They first became grandparents on New Year’s Eve in 2015, with a baby boy born to their daughter, Natalie, in the same year he was appointed to lead the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

As he was only 54 at the time, it was surmised that he was the youngest member of the Cabinet to become a grandfather. Additionally, his youngest son Luke was then only nine years old, a situation Dr Balakrishnan called “unusual but happy.”

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“Children are a source of hope and optimism and represent our ultimate commitment to the future,” he told The Straits Times.

Dr Balakrishnan is a physician by profession. A recipient of the President’s Scholarship in 1980, he studied Medicine at the National University of Singapore, later specializing in ophthalmology at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

He served as the medical director of the Singapore National Eye Centre and the chief executive officer of the Singapore General Hospital.

He began his political career in 2001 when the PAP won uncontested at Holland-Bukit Panjang GRC. The constituency was renamed Holland-Bukit Timah GRC in 2006.

In 2002, Dr Balakrishnan was appointed Minister of State for National Development, and two years later, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry. By 2004 he became Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, a position he assumed in full the following year.

Between 2005 and 2008, he was also the Second Minister for Trade and Industry and the Second Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts.

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After his stint at MCYS (later renamed the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth), he served as  Minister for the Environment and Water Resources from 2011 to 2015. From 2014 to 2021, Dr Balakrishnan was also the Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative.

On Oct 1, 2015, he assumed office as Minister of Foreign Affairs, a position he has held for the past nine years, though he was also Acting Minister for Transport for shortly over a month in 2019.  /TISG

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