Singapore leaders send condolence letters on death of former US president George H. W. Bush

Former US president George H. W. Bush at the White House after he addressed US troops defending Saudi Arabia, on Aug 29, 1990.
Former US president George H. W. Bush at the White House after he addressed US troops defending Saudi Arabia, on Aug 29, 1990.PHOTO: REUTERS

President Halimah Yacob, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong have written to Mr George W. Bush, the 43rd US president, to offer their condolences on the passing of the 41st US president, Mr George H. W. Bush.

"On behalf of the people of Singapore, I express our heartfelt condolences to you and your family on the passing of your beloved father," Madam Halimah wrote, according to a statement on Monday (Dec 3) by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

She said the elder Mr Bush's steadfast service to his country will continue to inspire generations to come.

"As the first sitting United States president to make a state visit to Singapore in January 1992, he left an indelible mark on the bilateral relationship between our two countries. The close and enduring partnership between Singapore and the US today bears testament to his leadership," President Halimah said.

In his letter, PM Lee said that "President Bush represented the finest characteristics of the Greatest Generation".

PM Lee said the US president from 1989 to 1993 demonstrated courage, devotion, compassion, and humility during his many decades of public service and through the numerous distinguished positions he held.

"He will be remembered for his statesmanship in bringing about a peaceful end to the Cold War, and cementing America's leadership in the world. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, an international coalition was put together under President Bush's leadership, which successfully reversed the Iraqi invasion, and made the world a safer place. Even in retirement, President Bush continued his sterling service and championed humanitarian causes in the developing world," PM Lee wrote.

 
 
 

The Prime Minister said the elder Mr Bush "strengthened our strong and multifaceted bilateral relationship during his presidency".

He wrote: "In 1992, he was the first US president to make a state visit to Singapore, when I had the privilege of being his minister-in-attendance. Our parents knew each other well. Mr Lee Kuan Yew first met President Bush in 1981, when he was vice-president. As Mr Lee wrote in his memoirs, he found President Bush to be 'an exceptionally warm and friendly man'. They had many interactions with each other throughout their careers, most notably when Mr Lee visited the US in 1982. President Bush invited Mr Lee to stay with him for a weekend in Kennebunkport, Maine, where they spent time not only on political discussions, but also jogging together."

Former president George H. W. Bush's commitment to service to his country was rivalled only by his devotion to his wife and his family, PM Lee said.

"I know from personal experience the depth of your loss. My thoughts, and those of Ho Ching, are with you, Laura, and your family as we reflect upon and honour your father's extraordinary life," he told Mr George W. Bush.

In his letter, ESM Goh said he was honoured as prime minister to welcome the elder Mr Bush during his visit to Singapore in 1992.

"His visit was a key milestone in the bilateral relationship between Singapore and the United States, and deepened the friendship between our two countries. The 1990 Memorandum of Understanding that underpins our defence relations today was also signed during his presidency. Singapore appreciated his leadership and steady hand in helping to bring about a peaceful end to the Cold War, ushering in a new era of stability and prosperity," ESM Goh wrote.

"I am thankful to have known your father also as a friend. President Bush's contributions were numerous and his lifetime of service is remarkable. He was a man of incredible fortitude and immense conviction. More than that, he was a man with a big heart who always had a warm smile and kind word for all those around him," he added, saying his thoughts were with the entire Bush family in this difficult time.

"I know that your father's legacy will live on in his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and generations to come. He will be dearly missed."