SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (May 17) expressed his condolences over the death of former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke.
The former leader, who served from 1983 to 1991, died on Thursday at the age of 89.
Australia’s longest-serving Labor prime minister was known for embracing economic deregulation and imposing reforms which triggered a wave of economic growth.
In a letter addressed to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday, Mr Lee expressed his “deepest condolences” on the passing of a “good friend”.
“Mr Hawke was a good friend of Singapore. He established close rapport with our leaders, and bilateral ties blossomed,” said Mr Lee.
He added that Mr Hawke, who had visited Singapore in 1984, 1987 and 1989, had advocated for closer ties between Australia, Singapore, and the rest of Asia.
“Mr Hawke’s critical role in bringing the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group into being will long be remembered, especially at a time when the global consensus on free trade is facing headwinds,” Mr Lee said.
“In 1989, I attended the first APEC meeting in Canberra as the Minister for Trade and Industry. Years later, I was happy to welcome Mr Hawke to Singapore when we hosted the APEC meeting in 2009."
Mr Lee called Mr Hawke a major figure in international affairs, who will be "missed by many".
"Ho Ching’s and my thoughts are with Mr Hawke’s family, and the people of Australia during this time of loss," he added.