Photo of Vivian Balakrishnan form Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In a media query over the recent announcement of an internet ban in the Civil Service, Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan claimed that the ban is not incompatible with the government’s Information Technology (IT) initiative “Smart Nation”, calling it “the flip side of the same coin”.

“The step was necessary in the name of cybersecurity and not incompatible with the idea of smart nation. Cybersecurity is absolutely essential if we are to become a smart nation. You can’t have electronic medical records, you can’t have financial technology, you can’t have large databases with information that could be abused or misused, you can’t afford a breach of privacy. So the way I look at it, cybersecurity is the flip side of the coin of being a smart nation.”

The former brain surgeon Minister who knows nothing about IT is also the Minister-In-Charge of the Smart Nation Initiative. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan also stressed that the government is just “segregating” computers and that civil servants still have internet access via a separate computer terminal.

However, Minister Vivian Balakrishnan did not explain why is the Singapore government incapable of managing a secured IT infrastructure. The internet ban move has been hailed as a step back to the 1980s by the public, and many questioned why is the government taking the easy way out. Singapore will be the only nation to ban the internet for its civil service, with the exception of North Korea.

The Ministry of Education opposed the move for teachers and announced yesterday that they will be exempted from the regulation.