SINGAPORE - Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong met India Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Fullerton Hotel on Saturday (June 2) morning, and they discussed India's role in helping to bring about a peaceful, prosperous and open Asia.
Mr Goh said that Mr Modi's personal diplomacy and leadership will be effective in building trust among world leaders, which will be crucial for fostering bilateral and regional goodwill among nations.
They met on the last day of Mr Modi's three-day official visit to Singapore, his second one since 2015.
Both also unveiled a plaque at Clifford Pier, marking the waters where the ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were immersed in March 1948.
Gandhi, who led India's independence movement against British colonial rule, was assassinated on Jan 30 that year. His ashes were placed in several urns and sent around the world and within India.
One urn came to Singapore. Indian Government Representative John Thivytook the urn out to sea on a vessel launched from Clifford Pier, scattering the ashes few hundred metres from the shore while tens of thousands of mourners watched.
Five Indian girls sang Gandhi's favourite hymn, Raghupathi Raghava Raja Ram, as his ashes were dispersed.
The same hymn was also performed before Mr Modi and Mr Goh at the ceremony on Saturday morning.
Some 200 delegates, business representatives, students and Singapore residents of Indian descent attended the ceremony at the Fullerton Bay Hotel.
Mr Shiv Kumar Iyer, 41, who came to the event with his wife and son, said he just learnt of the 1948 event just a few days ago. The Singaporean said his grandfather was involved in Gandhi's freedom movement.
Mr Iyer, a regional director at a software firm, said: "Coming to Clifford Pier in future will no longer be a simple family outing, but a pilgrimage."
Mr Modi on Saturday also visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens, where an orchid - the Dendrobium Narendra Modi - was named after him.
Later, he toured the Jamae Chulia Mosque, the Sri Mariamman Temple and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, accompanied by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.
In the afternoon, Mr Modi visited the Indian Heritage Centre, where he launched a cultural platform, Kala Sangam, which will invite 12 traditional craftsmen from India to travel to the centre annually from 2018 to 2022. The programme is funded by a $250,000 donation by group chairman for LVMH Asia Ravi Thakran, and can be matched dollar-to-dollar by MCCY's Cultural Matching Fund.
Mr Modi also used his RuPay contactless card to pay for a souvenir at the centre with a Nets point-of-sale machine. He bought a $26 painting by one of the craftsmen in the Madhubani-Mithila style.
This was made possible by a tie-up between the two digital payment systems that was formalised during Mr Modi's visit to enable cross-border usage of Nets and RuPay cards in India and Singapore.
Before his flight home, Mr Modi visited Singapore's RSS Formidable frigate and India's INS Satpura stealth frigate at the Changi Naval Base, accompanied by Senior Minister of State for Defence Maliki Osman, he said in a tweet. The Indian ship was berthed in Singapore as part of a routine port call.
A day earlier, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) announced that Singapore and India will reduce or remove tariffs on a further 30 products, improve rules of origin and facilitate mutual recognition of nursing standards following the second review of the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between the two countries.
Tariffs on 30 products will be reduced or eliminated to the level under the free trade agreement between India and Asean. The new preferential tariffs apply to a variety of sectors, including food and Nylon moulding powder.