A senior Singaporean minister announced last Thursday that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will soon visit South Africa as the two nations celebrate 30 years of bilateral relations.

The announcement was made at a celebration of South Africa’s national holiday at a hotel in Singapore.

Almost three decades ago, Nelson Mandela was sworn as the first African president of South Africa’s nascent democracy. 

After a decades-long struggle and the efforts of brave South Africans like Winnie Madikizela Mandela, Steve Biko, Solomon Mahlangu, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Vella Pillay, Ros Ainslie, David Webster, Helen Suzman and many others, to defeat the apartheid system, the day finally arrived between April 26 and 29, 1994 when South Africa held its first truly democratic elections. 

Former Singaporean prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, was one the many world leaders who supported those who were fighting against apartheid. 

In light of this, Her Excellency Madiepetsane Charlotte Lobe, the High Commissioner of the Republic of South Africa in Singapore, hosted last Thursday a function to celebrate South Africa’s national day, Freedom Day.  

The event was held at hotel Voco Orchard Singapore.  

It was attended by other members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited in Singapore, various representatives of the Singaporean business sector and government, as well as a group of South African entrepreneurs. 

The guest of honour was Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Finance & Ministry of Transport Chee Hong Tat. Chee was there on behalf of Singaporean President Halimah Yacob. 

During her speech, Lobe, highlighted the significance of the date for the South African people. She thanked Singapore, not only for its solidarity during the years of the struggle against apartheid, but also for the Southeast Asian country’s continuous support through trade and investment. 

Chee responded with kind words and revealed an upcoming state visit to South Africa by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in May.  

Chee stated that the Lee’s visit will strengthen the bilateral relations between the two nations. The state visit falls alongside the celebration of the 30th anniversary of bilateral relations between Singapore and South Africa. 

Endorsement of diversity and multiculturism is an important common denominator between the two geographically distanced nations, especially given the different cultural mixes which are thriving in each nation.  

Attendees of the Freedom Day celebration in Singapore last Thursday lift their fists in a symbolic celebration of South Africa’s struggle against apartheid. Image: Koh Zhisheng / DNA.