Asia

Joe Biden's 2013 visit to Singapore memorable with the stop at a hawker centre

SINGAPORE – United States President-elect Joe Biden is perhaps most fondly remembered by Singaporeans for his surprise pit-stop at Adam Road hawker centre while he was on his first official visit to the Republic as vice president in 2013.

At the hawker centre, he and his son-in-law Howard Krein drank $3-lime juice, posed for photographs and stopped to chat with diners.

The two-day visit saw back-to-back engagements for Mr Biden, which included a meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana.

As vice president during the Obama Administration, Mr Biden forged ties and links with Singapore and PM Lee, in a congratulatory letter to the president-elect on Sunday (Nov 8), said that he hoped to meet him again.

PM Lee noted that during Mr Biden’s tenure as vice president significant strides were made in relations between the US and Asia-Pacific, including the US’s entry to the East Asia Summit and the appointment of its first Ambassador to Asean.

The prime minister also referred to the US’ “long-standing, multifaceted and robust partnership” with Singapore, including in the economic and defence spheres as well as in many other new areas, including infrastructure development and cybersecurity.

“I look forward to working with you to deepen the partnership between our two countries and enhance the United States’ presence in the Asia-Pacific. You can continue to count on Singapore as a friend and partner,” said PM Lee in the letter.

During his visit, Mr Biden called on PM Lee, then-President Tony Tan Keng Yam, and also met founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew whom the then-US vice president described as “one of the most admired men in the world”.

Mr Biden often spoke about his meetings with Mr Lee in public speeches and after the latter’s passing, penned a page-long condolence message saying that few world leaders possessed Mr Lee’s insight and wisdom on world affairs.


Joe Biden enjoys a a cup of lime juice during a surprise visit to the Adam Road hawker centre on July 26, 2013. PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Biden’ wife, Jill, and daughter Ashley, who is married to Mr Krein, accompanied the vice president on his visit to Singapore.

He and his wife had a deep purple orchid hybrid – the Dendrobium Joe and Jill Biden – named after them when they visited the National Orchid Garden at the Botanic Gardens.

“Never did I think in my wildest dreams that I would have an orchid named after me and my wife. That is beyond any expectations I ever had as a child or as an adult,” said Mr Biden.

His wife, a former high school teacher and now college professor, and his daughter also visited the National Library where they read to a group of primary school pupils.

Mr Biden concluded the trip with a visit to US aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney, and the USS Freedom, a littoral combat ship deployed at Changi Naval Base.

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