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President attends Lee Kuan Yew family wake in Singapore

President attends Lee Kuan Yew family wake in Singapore

Taipei, March 24 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou (???) flew to Singapore Tuesday to attend a private family wake for the city-state's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew (???), who passed away a day earlier, an unnamed source said that day. Invited by Lee's son, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (???), Ma visited the Istana, site of the Singapore prime minister's official residence, and where Lee's family held the private wake, according to the source. Ma then had a brief talk with the prime minster and they reminisced about Lee's life. Asked in what capcity Ma attended the memorial service, the source replied: "Wherever the president goes, he is always the president." Ma has maintained a deep friendship with the Lee family for the past 30 years and his attendance at the wake symbolizes the profound friendship between them, the source added. The wake was attended by the family's relatives, close friends and government officials, according to Singapore media reports. Given Lee Kuan Yew's close friendship with the Republic of China, Ma wanted to express his condolences to the family face-to-face and would attend the wake in his capacity as Taiwan's president, although "we respect Singapore's arrangements over the matter," Premier Mao Chi-kuo (???) told the Legislature that day when asked by several lawmakers about the capacity in which Ma would attend the gathering. Lee served as an intermediary between Taiwan and China, helping to achieve the first direct talks between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait in 1993. Ma's visit to Singapore was considered diplomatically sensitive due to the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries and Chinese pressure. China, which maintains a close relationship with Singapore, upholds its "one China" principle and considers Taiwan as part of its territory. Ma will be unlikely to attend a March 29 invitation-only funeral for Lee to avoid any awkward encounters with Chinese representatives, given the likelihood of a top Chinese leader attending, according to a Reuters report. It is probable that an ROC envoy will instead be named to attend on Ma's behalf. (By Lee Shu-hua and Evelyn Kao)


Updated : 2021-09-23 23:04 GMT+08:00