Singapore leaders convey condolences on death of India's former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Atal Bihari Vajpayee campaigns in New Delhi on Nov 16, 1989.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee campaigns in New Delhi on Nov 16, 1989.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Leaders of Singapore have conveyed their condolences to India on the passing of its former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee this week.

In her letter to Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday (Aug 17), President Halimah Yabcob said Mr Vajpayee played an instrumental role in transforming India's economy, as well as strengthening India's standing in the region and the world.

"He also oversaw a period of strong growth in Singapore-India relations, particularly in economic cooperation," said President Halimah.

"Mr Vajpayee was one of India's finest sons who inspired many with his hard work, sacrifices for the nation and compassion for the people," she said. "I am certain that his life and legacy will remain a sterling example of public service to us all."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong lauded Mr Vajpayee for seeing the importance for India to engage the region more closely which resulted in stronger India-Asean and India-Singapore relations.

"A visionary and a reformer, Mr Vajpayee's economic reforms improved the lives of millions of Indians," said Mr Lee.

"He will be remembered as a great statesman who led India through a period when its international stature grew immensely."


Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong who was prime minister when Mr Vajpayee made an official visit to Singapore in 2002 said both men shared a good relationship during their overlapping tenures as prime minister.

"Together, we launched the negotiations for the India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement during my visit to India in 2003, which heralded a new phase in bilateral relations," ESM Goh said.

"On a personal note, I have fond memories of our interactions and I will always treasure his humility, wit and intellect."

Mr Vajpayee, a poet and spellbinding orator respected across the political divide in India, died on Thursday (Aug 16) after a long period of declining health. He was 93.

Thousands of mourners in white funereal dress escorted the coffin of the three-time prime minister through New Delhi on Friday, showering his body in rose petals before his cremation.