While out on a hike at Bukit Timah earlier this month, China’s Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi met up with a Singaporean taxi driver, with whom he had a chat. He was in the country from August 1-5 for the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and also met with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
The driver told Mr. Wang about how Bukit Timah was bombed during World War 2 by the Japanese, and other stories from the history of Singapore, which impressed the Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister very much.
In an appeal to the Singaporean media, Mr. Wang asked that his well-wishes be passed along to the driver, to whom he had not had a chance to say goodbye.
Mr. Wang said, “Let me tell you a short story about what happened while I was hiking yesterday morning. On the way up during the hike, I ran into a Singaporean man, probably a regular civilian. For a while, we chatted while hiking up together. We hit it off right away. He told me a lot about Singapore’s history. Coincidentally, there were a lot of traces of World War II left on the hill (that they were hiking in). He took the time to tell me all about it, including how after the Japanese invaded Singapore and bombed the hill, many craters were formed on the hill. This part of history lets us both appreciate the importance of peace. We should protect the current peace we have together.
At the beginning, he didn’t know who I was. Later, as we were parting, we ran into many Chinese tourists. That was when this person realised who I was. When I turned around to say goodbye to him, he had quietly left. This encounter has been on my mind ever since. So I want to ask the reporters in Singapore to reach out to him. I heard from my colleague he is a taxi driver. Please tell him this: Hey, buddy, I wish you the best of health, and happiness in your life.”
After Xinhua Hong Kong first reported the story of the chance encounter between Mr. Wang and the taxi driver, Mr. Balakrishnan confirmed that the Chinese Foreign Affairs Minister had indeed told him the same story.
He said, “Wang Yi was impressed because the Singaporean told him that Singapore must always keep climbing the mountain. We must never believe that we have reached the top. The gentleman only realised who he was when some other Chinese tourists recognised him.”
It is likely that Mr. Wang’s hike with the taxi driver occurred on his second day in Singapore, on August 2.