In a letter written to congratulate U.S. President Joe Biden on his election and inauguration, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Biden is taking office "at a time when many pressing challenges confront" the U.S. and the rest of the world.
Biden was sworn in at 12:50am on Jan. 21 (Singapore time) before a reduced crowd of spectators, due to Covid-19 restrictions.
He took his oath of office with one hand on the 127-year-old Biden family Bible, held by his wife Jill Biden.
Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President of the United States, becoming the first woman, African-American and Asian-American to hold the position.
Jennifer Lopez sang "This Land is Your Land" and "America the Beautiful", while Lady Gaga sang the national anthem.
In his speech, Biden said, "Democracy is precious, democracy is fragile. But in this hour my friends, democracy has prevailed."
He spoke of the challenges faced by America, including the Covid-19 pandemic, but said that with unity, America could do great things.
Strong leadership at a tough time will make a difference
PM Lee pointed out that challenges such as recurrent waves of the Covid-19 pandemic are yet to be over, and that many countries, including the U.S. are suffering "severe damage to their economies and peoples’ livelihoods".
"Strong American leadership will make a decisive difference to our collective recovery and the shape of the post-Covid-19 world," he said.
PM Lee had previously expressed the same sentiments back in early November when Biden won the election.
Affirmed excellent relations
He also reiterated Singapore's excellent bilateral relations with the U.S., saying that both countries have long-standing strategic, defence and economic links with each other.
Such strong ties are underpinned by agreements like the 2005 Strategic Framework Agreement and 2004 U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, he said, adding that both the U.S. and Singapore have broadened their cooperation into new areas, such as digital economy, data connectivity, and cybersecurity. He said:
"You can continue to rely on Singapore as a consistent and reliable friend and partner, as we advance our countries’ shared interests and deal with common challenges."
Looks forward to U.S.'s anchoring role in region
PM Lee also pointed out that there is "a deep reservoir of goodwill for the U.S." in the region due to "the vital role the U.S. has played anchoring regional stability and economic prosperity for over half a century".
He said he looks forward to working with the new U.S. President to strengthen America’s engagement of Asia and the regional grouping Asean, as well as to meeting Biden at the earliest opportunity in Singapore or Washington DC.
Biden's experience in public office a guiding hand in crisis
Singapore's President Halimah Yacob extended her "heartiest congratulations" to Biden as well, offering him her "best wishes" as he leads the U.S. forward at a time when the world is facing tremendous challenges from Covid-19.
"Your decades of experience in public office will provide a stable, guiding hand during this critical juncture for America and the international community," she said.
Halimah also reiterated the "long, enduring friendship" both countries share.
Besides partnerships that span the defence and security, economic, and people-to-people spheres, both militaries train together and participate in regular military-to-military exchanges, she said.
She added that since 1990, Singapore has hosted U.S. aircraft and ships on rotational deployments.
Halimah ended her letter by recalling her meeting with Biden during the latter's visit to Singapore in 2013, saying she hopes to welcome him and his family to Singapore again.
Trump failed to mention Biden's name in parting speech
In a parting speech before he leaves the White House, former U.S. President Donald Trump refused to mention Biden's name even though it was included in the script.
Speaking to a small crowd of supporters, Trump concluded his speech by saying: "We will be back in some form... We will see you soon", hinting at potential plans to run for president again in 2024 should his impeachment trial not pass the Senate.
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Top image via PM Lee/Facebook