Singapore leaders express condolences over death of former Indonesian president Habibie

Singapore leaders express condolences over death of former Indonesian president Habibie

Former Indonesian President B.J. Habibie -- seen here in March 2007 -- has died at the age 83
Former Indonesian President B J Habibie - seen here in March 2007 - has died at the age 83. (Photo: AFP/Adek BERRY)

SINGAPORE: Singapore leaders on Thursday (Sep 12) extended their condolences to Mr Ilham Akbar Habibie over the death of his father, former Indonesian president B J Habibie.

The former Indonesian president died of heart failure at Jakarta's Gatot Soebroto Army Hospital on Wednesday. He was 83.

READ: Former Indonesian president Habibie dies, aged 83

In a letter of condolence, President Halimah Yacob said Professor Habibie had been "steadfast" in his service to Indonesia.

"Indonesia has lost a leader who steered the country with purpose and direction during its transition to democracy and after the Asian financial crisis," said Mdm Halimah. 

"President Habibie was steadfast in his service to his country and in his efforts to improve the lives of all Indonesians."

In a separate letter, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote that the former leader had led his country during a difficult period of transition.

"President Habibie led Indonesia in a difficult transition during reformasi. It was a crucial turning point for Indonesia," said Mr Lee. 

"He worked hard to stabilise the country in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. He also pushed for greater regional autonomy and decentralisation in Indonesia, with a view to uniting and improving the lives of all Indonesians."

The prime minister also noted Prof Habibie's "passion for engineering and technology", calling him a "scientist at heart".

Said Mr Lee: "His passion for engineering and technology was evident when I visited the Bandung factory of Industri Pesawat Terbang Nusatura, now known as Dirgantara Indonesia, in 1987. 

"It was an impressive facility, and President Habibie’s pride and joy," he added. "He must surely be pleased with the significant strides that Indonesia has since made in growing its technology sector and the digital economy."

He also wrote about how the former president was "instrumental" in developing Batam, Bintan and Karimun as a special economic zone and how Singapore worked closely with him and other Indonesian ministers on the project.

"We met many times to discuss how Singapore and Indonesia could cooperate and complement each other to bring enduring benefit to our peoples," said Mr Lee. "We are permanent neighbours and friends, and our futures are intertwined."

Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong also wrote letters of condolence.

Mr Teo wrote about calling on Prof Habibie in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, while Mr Goh wrote about his "fortitude" in leading Indonesia.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan also wrote to his Indonesian counterpart Ms Retno Marsudi to express his condolences.

Mr Teo, who is on a working visit to Jakarta, visited the late president's home on Wednesday evening to pay his final respects and to offer his condolences to the family.

Source: CNA/nc