BANGKOK • Thailand's late King Bhumibol Adulyadej "was one of the most respected, remembered monarchs of the modern era", Singapore President Halimah Yacob said yesterday just before attending the royal cremation ceremony.
During the ceremony, President Halimah and her husband, Mr Mohamed Abdullah Alhabshee, laid sandalwood flowers at the royal funeral pyre, Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said in a statement.
"His Majesty had been in power for 70 years… and during that period, he had initiated many royal development projects, and those projects have empowered many Thai people and benefited them as well," she told Singapore media during her first overseas trip since she assumed office on Sept 14. "He is very well loved."
Madam Halimah also said that King Bhumibol laid the foundation for the strong bilateral relationship between Singapore and Thailand.
Thailand was one of the first few countries to recognise Singapore when it became independent in 1965, she noted. Solid bilateral relations are built on economic and strategic ties, and also regular people-to-people exchanges. Thailand received more than one million visitors from Singapore last year.
"This relationship will continue to endure," Madam Halimah said.
"We look forward to working very closely with His Majesty Maha Vajiralongkorn, and we certainly feel a deep sense of loss."
Madam Halimah returns to Singapore today.
In its statement, MFA noted that King Bhumibol "worked tirelessly and was a pillar of strength for the people of Thailand".
"His wise leadership also set a solid foundation for the strong and enduring ties between Singapore and Thailand. He will long be remembered by not only the Thai people, but also the rest of the world," it said.
In October last year, both then-President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made visits to Bangkok to pay respects to the late King at the Grand Palace.