SINGAPORE – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been a steadfast friend to Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, following her announcement that she would be resigning ahead of her country’s general election in October.
PM Lee wished her the best and thanked her for her partnership and support. “She is an inspiration to many, and I wish her and her family all the best!” he wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.
On Thursday morning, Ms Ardern had said during her Labour Party’s caucus meeting in Napier, New Zealand, that she would not be seeking re-election as she no longer had “enough in the tank” to do the job, and would step down no later than Feb 7.
“I’m leaving, because with such a privileged role comes responsibility. The responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead and also when you are not. I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice,” she had said.
PM Lee, in his Facebook post, said Ms Ardern had shown great dedication and leadership as prime minister, a role she took on after winning the election in 2017. He noted that she had steered her country through crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the Christchurch terror attacks on two mosques in 2019 which left 51 people dead.
He added that she has been a steadfast friend to Singapore and he had met her many times in person and at international fora and had also kept in touch regularly during the pandemic to “share experiences and exchange notes, and ensure that supply lines stayed open between our countries”.
As countries closed borders and stopped trade when Covid-19 hit, New Zealand had sent essential supplies to Singapore under a Declaration of Trade in Essential Goods for Combating the Covid-19 Pandemic, inked between both countries to expedite and facilitate the flow of essential supplies through air and sea ports during the pandemic.
Singapore and New Zealand had upgraded ties during Ms Ardern’s first official visit to Singapore in 2019, with the establishment of the SG-NZ Enhanced Partnership, and later in her next visit in 2022 had expanded the partnership to include cooperation in climate change and the green economy, noted PM Lee.
“I thank PM Ardern for her strong partnership, support and good humour,” he said.