Aussie PM Bob Hawke dies at 89, a good friend of S'pore, says PM Lee

PM Lee said that Hawke was a major figure who presided over a period of prosperity for Australia.

Martino Tan| May 17, 06:36 PM

Bob Hawke, one of Australia's longest-serving Prime Ministers (PMs), has died peacefully at the age of 89.

The 23rd PM of Australia led his country between 1983 and 1991, winning four elections and becoming its third longest-tenured leader.

"Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian - many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era", Hawke's wife Blanche d'Alpuget said in a statement.

Hawke was a former trade unionist and was first elected to Parliament in 1980.

He became the leader of the centre-left Labor Party before a general election in 1983.

A graduate from Oxford University, Hawke joined the Labor Party aged 18. 

Long-serving PM stood in sharp contrast to the tenures of recent PM

Hawke's eight years as PM is still a record for a Labor Party leader, and it stood in sharp contrast to the recent Australian PMs.

None of the past five PMs has served a full three-year term since 2007.

PM Lee: Bob Hawke a good friend of S'pore

In his Facebook post, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong expressed his deepest condolences to Hawke's family and all Australians, saying that he was deeply saddened by the news of Hawke's passing.

PM Lee said that Hawke was a major figure who presided over a period of prosperity for Australia.

PM Lee added that Hawke was also a good friend of Singapore.

Hawke on LKY: "A great bloke"

Lee Kuan Yew and Hawke at a meeting in Singapore, 22nd February 1984. (Photo by Alex Bowie/Getty Images)

Hawke wrote a warm tribute to Lee Kuan Yew during his passing in 2015.

Hawke said that Lee "was quite simply, and unquestionably, one of the outstanding national leaders of the last hundred years".

Hawke with Lee in 1986 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Patrick Riviere/Getty Images)

Hawke said in the Australian Financial Review,

"He worked on a small canvas, but what he achieved in tiny Singapore not only transformed the lives of his own people profoundly, but had an immense impact beyond Singapore in shaping the Asia of today.

Harry Lee, as he was affectionately known, was perhaps the last of that generation of leaders who guided their countries through the drama and turmoil of decolonisation to independence. It is hard now to recall how difficult and dangerous those times were in Southeast Asia."

Hawke said that LKY was "a great bloke, and, by any standards, a great man", adding that he was a great friend of Australia.

Top photo from National Archives