SINGAPORE: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday (Jan 25) congratulated his New Zealand counterpart Chris Hipkins and sent his best wishes to Jacinda Ardern.
Labour Party leader Mr Hipkins was sworn in as New Zealand's prime minister on Wednesday, following the resignation of Ms Ardern. Ms Ardern said last week that she no longer had "enough in the tank" and would resign from the top job.
In his congratulatory letter to Mr Hipkins, Mr Lee said that Singapore and New Zealand share a deep and longstanding friendship.
"As small and open economies, we share similar views on many issues, such as the importance of free trade and international law," he added.
Both countries have multifaceted cooperation across the five pillars of the Enhanced Partnership, in areas such as trade, defence, science and technology, people-to-people exchanges and climate change.
"Our two countries also supported each other strongly during the COVID-19 pandemic, including ensuring that supply chains remain connected and regularly exchanging notes on our experiences," said Mr Lee.
"I look forward to working with you to strengthen our excellent bilateral relations, and wish you and your government every success."
In a valedictory letter to Ms Ardern, Mr Lee said he was sorry to learn that she had decided to step down, although he fully understood her reasons for doing so.
"Like many, I was moved watching your personal and sincere statement announcing your decision," he said.
"I hope that after you have handed over your duties, you will be able to recharge your tank and continue contributing to public life in other ways."
Mr Lee wrote in his letter that Ms Ardern had steered New Zealand through unprecedented and challenging times.
She led the country with "kindness, compassion and strength through multiple crises", including the Christchurch attacks, the White Island eruption and the COVID-19 pandemic.
"You have also been an inspiration, especially to women and girls, not just in New Zealand, but across the world. You have demonstrated that empathy and courage can go hand-in-hand in political leadership," said Mr Lee.