PM Lee sends condolences

Former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt (left) and founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew having a warm exchange at the end of a press conference at the Shangri-La hotel in 2012. The two close friends spent three days discussing world politics during M
Former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt (left) and founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew having a warm exchange at the end of a press conference at the Shangri-La hotel in 2012. The two close friends spent three days discussing world politics during Mr Schmidt's visit.ST FILE PHOTO

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has conveyed his condolences to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the death of former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt.

Mr Schmidt, who died on Tuesday at the age of 96, was a visionary leader and a close friend of Singapore, PM Lee said in a letter to Dr Merkel.

He had a strategic view of the world and was a strong supporter of closer relations between Singapore and Germany, PM Lee added.

Mr Schmidt was also a close personal friend of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew for many years, PM Lee said, recalling their final meeting in May 2012. At the age of 94, Mr Schmidt had travelled from Hamburg to Singapore to meet his old friend.

The two leaders spent three days discussing world politics.

PM Lee wrote: "It was, as always, a meeting of minds. Clear-headed and tough-minded, Mr Schmidt found common ground with Mr Lee on many key issues.

COMMON GROUND

It was, as always, a meeting of minds. Clear-headed and tough-minded, Mr Schmidt found common ground with Mr Lee on many key issues.

PRIME MINISTER LEE HSIEN LOONG, on the friendship between former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt and the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew

"We were privileged to have that last conversation published in a book by Mr Lee a year later."

The 2013 book, One Man's View Of The World, covers Mr Lee's views on global developments.

PM Lee added: "On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Singapore, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the government and people of the Federal Republic of Germany as you mourn the loss of one of Germany's great leaders."

In a separate Facebook post, PM Lee recounted a personal anecdote showing Mr Schmidt's acute musical ear. The German leader had once attended a poolside dinner hosted by Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew.

Classical chamber music - Bach's Goldberg Variations - had been playing in the background. In the midst of the conversation, Mr Schmidt turned to Mrs Lee and correctly identified the pianist of the piece as Glenn Gould.

"My mother asked how he knew, and he said there was something unique about Glenn Gould's playing style,"said PM Lee.

Charissa Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2015, with the headline 'PM Lee sends condolences'. Print Edition | Subscribe