New Zealand PM to attend cricket final over Lee funeral
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand Prime Minister John Key believes he has made the right decision to be in Melbourne for the Cricket World Cup final on Sunday, March 28, rather than attend the state funeral for Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew.
Instead, Governor-General Jerry Mateparae will represent New Zealand in Singapore.
"It was a difficult decision because obviously I want to go to both," Key told reporters.
He described Lee as "a close and long-time friend of New Zealand" and said that Mateparae, as New Zealand's head of state, was more senior than the prime minister.
Key said he had decided before New Zealand's semi-final, when they beat South Africa with only one ball to spare, that if his nation made the final he would attend.
"I think that's the right call," he said. New Zealand plays Australia in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
"Our two countries have a special rivalry. Over the years we have been treated to some truly exceptional sporting clashes and I expect this one will be no different."
However, his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott is bypassing the cricket and will join other regional leaders in Singapore for Lee's funeral.
Lee "was a leading international statesman of his time, and laid the foundation upon which successive Singaporean and Australian governments have built a strong relationship," Abbott said in a statement last week.
Leaders from Japan, South Korea, India and Indonesia are also attending the funeral. – Rappler.com