'Good friend of Singapore'

Mr Bush meeting then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in June 1998 at the Raffles Hotel. He was in Singapore for a stopover with his wife Barbara and Mr Goh, accompanied by Mrs Goh, visited them at the hotel. Mr Bush had offered to shake hands with Mr Go
Mr George H. W. Bush with then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew at the Raffles Hotel lobby in January 1992. Mr Bush was the first sitting US president to visit Singapore and Mr Lee had called on him at the hotel. Accompanying them was US National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft.
Mr Bush meeting then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in June 1998 at the Raffles Hotel. He was in Singapore for a stopover with his wife Barbara and Mr Goh, accompanied by Mrs Goh, visited them at the hotel. Mr Bush had offered to shake hands with Mr Go
Mr Bush meeting then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in June 1998 at the Raffles Hotel. He was in Singapore for a stopover with his wife Barbara and Mr Goh, accompanied by Mrs Goh, visited them at the hotel. Mr Bush had offered to shake hands with Mr Goh again for the photographers.

Mr George H. W. Bush, who has died aged 94, was the first sitting US president to visit Singapore and shared close ties with the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Singapore was the only Asean stop on Mr Bush's 12-day tour of the Asia-Pacific in January 1992. He delivered the Singapore Lecture, chaired by then Senior Minister Lee and also called on prime minister Goh Chok Tong at the Istana.

Observers said at that time that Mr Bush's 38-hour visit had raised Singapore's international profile.

In his memoir, From Third World To First, Mr Lee described Mr Bush as "an exceptionally warm and friendly man" who had invited Mr Lee and his daughter Wei Ling to stay with him at his family vacation home in Maine.

Singapore was among the first nations to support the US-led multinational coalition during the 1991 Gulf War and it allowed US aircraft and naval vessels sailing through the Pacific to transit through here.

Mr Bush recalled: "When I needed sound advice on Asean matters or on Asia in general, I would turn to Lee Kuan Yew for advice."

In 1992, Mr Bush asked Mr Lee to be an intermediary between the US and China when he needed Beijing to release detainees from the Tiananmen Square incident in order to gather enough support to veto Congress' resolution on withdrawing China's Most Favoured Nation trading status.

 

Mr Lee conveyed his message to Chinese president Yang Shangkun when the latter visited Singapore, but Mr Yang refused.

Singapore diplomats yesterday paid tribute to Mr Bush. "A great but underrated president and a good friend of Singapore," retired diplomat Bilahari Kausikan wrote on Facebook.

Lee Seok Hwai

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 02, 2018, with the headline ''Good friend of Singapore''. Print Edition | Subscribe