PM Lee congratulates newly-appointed New Zealand PM Chris Hipkins

A new PM at the helm.

Tan Min-Wei | January 25, 2023, 06:47 PM

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has congratulated Chris Hipkins on his appointment as the New Zealand Prime Minister.

Free trade and international law

Hipkins was sworn in by New Zealand's Governor General on Jan. 25.

In a statement on Jan. 25, PM Lee congratulated Hipkins on his appointment, as well as going over Singapore's and New Zealand's deep bilateral relationship.

PM Lee said that as both countries were small and open economies, they had similar views on issues such as the importance of free trade and international law.

He also spoke about the "five pillars of the Enhanced Partnership" - trade, defence, science and technology, people-to-people exchanges, and climate change.

PM Lee closed by saying he looked forward to strengthening the bilateral relationship, and wished Hipkins' government "every success".

Had leading role in New Zealand's Covid response

Hipkins was nominated unopposed for the role of PM by the country's Labour Party.

Hipkins is described by Stuff as a "Mr Fixit" for the New Zealand Labour party, having been handed significant governmental tasks.

The Guardian notes his previous ministerial portfolios as being "wonky" (slang for technocratic) roles, such as policing and education.

But perhaps Hipkins is best known for leading New Zealand's Covid-19 pandemic response.

The Guardian quoted Hipkins as saying that his government's priority was addressing cost-of-living challenges.

His appointment came on the same day that New Zealand's official inflation figures were revealed to be holding at over 7 per cent, which was high, but still lower than the OECD average.

Both Stuff and the Guardian noted a "ruthless streak" in the incoming PM, which might be a needed trait as his party is trailing the opposition National Party in polls.

Jacinda Ardern, a very good friend of Singapore

PM Lee also addressed a valedictory letter to the outgoing PM, Jacinda Ardern.

Greeting her as Jacinda, he paid tribute to her leadership during multiple crises, such as the Christchurch terror attacks, and the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also called Ardern "an inspiration especially to women and girls" across the world, and that she demonstrated "empathy and courage can go hand-in-hand with political leadership".

He concluded by saying that he was sorry to learn that she decided to step down, but understood her reasons, lauding her retirement statement as "personal and sincere".

PM Lee called Ardern a "very good friend of Singapore", and that she and her family were always welcome in Singapore.

His predecessor

Ardern surprised many when she announced on Jan. 19 that she was resigning as PM, saying that she no longer has "enough in the tank".

Her resignation comes just over nine months before a general election slated for Oct. 14.

This gives her successor Hipkins some time to settle into the role before facing the electorate.

Hipkins has called out the social media vitriol against Ardern as "utterly abhorrent", according to Bloomberg, adding that men had a responsibility to call out misogyny and abuse of women when they saw it.

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Top image via Chris Hipkins MP/Facebook