Top 5 lesser-known memorable moments of PM Lee Hsien Loong

Top 5 memorable moments of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

On 15 April, Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong announced that he would be handing over the baton to Deputy PM Lawrence Wong one month from now, ahead of the upcoming general elections.

Source: Lee Hsien Loong on Facebook

With an impressive office term of close to two decades, his retirement marks the end of an era filled with tangible contributions to Singapore and also, some viral moments.

Thanks to the ardent, detail-oriented viewers and listeners of his speeches and also his social-media savviness, PM Lee has made an impression in the online sphere.

Here are the five most memorable moments involving PM Lee Hsien Loong that will remain etched in our minds for a long time to come.

1. When he wore pink shirts many times on screen

In 2020, PM Lee’s fashion choices became the subject of online discourse after a graphic designer in Singapore made the astute observation that he always made announcements in a pink shirt.

AsiaOne reported that her Instagram Stories, which had been reposted on Facebook on 13 March 2020, promptly went viral.

Source: AsiaOne

On 15 March the same year, PM Lee posted a clip on Instagram showing the highlights of his visit to Sengkang West.

The video has a thumbnail of a young boy saying “Yesterday you wear pink shirt” to the PM. PM Lee acknowledged this comment in his caption:

Some highlights from my visit to Sengkang West this morning, including an astute observation on my sartorial choices! 🙂

Source: @leehsienloong on Instagram

An analysis by Kontinentalist in 2020 found that out of 215 speeches, he wore pink one-quarter of the time. This makes pink his second-most sported colour after white (34.7%).

In an interview with TODAY in 2015, PM Lee noted that he wears the colour often as his producer tells him to.

Source: Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore on YouTube

While it may not necessarily be a personal choice, the diverse shades of pink he’s worn have amused Singaporeans — especially during the challenging times of Covid-19.

2. When PM Lee Hsien Loong became associated with the memorable ‘magic cup’

Time and time again, PM Lee has graced our television screens and impressed us with his multilingual prowess.

Apart from his ability to speak eloquently in three official languages — English, Malay, and Mandarin — it seems to be a piece of cake for him to switch between them during his speeches.

And his not-so-secret secret? A “magic” language-changing cup.

The iconic piece of tableware debuted during PM Lee’s Circuit Breaker announcement on 3 April 2020.

Source: Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore on YouTube

A short sip from his blue porcelain cup appears to be all he needs to switch effectively to the next language.

Over a year after the teacup’s first appearance, netizens still remember its “magical properties”.

The cup made a comeback in PM Lee’s 2021 National Day Rally speech, when he switched from English to Malay.

In the clip, PM Lee addressed the camera in English before popping out of frame to retrieve his blue cup.

He then sips on it and without missing a beat, speaks fluently in Malay.

@todayonline An ✨iconic✨ moment during this year’s #ndr2021 #ndrsg #pmlee #magiccup #memestiktok #tiktoksg #sgnews #fy ♬ original sound – TODAYOnline

Netizens have since called the blue vessel the “Magic Cup”, with one commenter speculating that PM Lee chose it for the speech because of the buzz it previously created online.

Source: TikTok

Following the cup’s significant traction, indie flagship store Supermama traced its original creator in Kyushu, Japan.

The cup is sold out in its online store but is hinted to return soon.

Source: Supermama

3. When his ‘0.5 selfie’ went viral in 2023

While PM Lee may be a septuagenarian, this doesn’t stop him from connecting with the younger generation.

In fact, the 72-year-old statesman has kept himself up to date with the latest selfie-taking trends over the years.

On National Selfie Day (21 June) last year, he shared a 0.5 selfie on his Facebook page to commemorate the occasion. The wide-angle shot has been popularised among the Gen Zs since 2022.

“Took some practice before I was satisfied with the result — though my arm was pretty tired by then,” he quipped in his caption.

According to The Straits Times (ST), this photo — with more than 59,900 likes on Instagram — has the most interactions on PM Lee Hsien Loong’s Instagram account.

Scroll through the comments section on this post and you’ll find enthusiastic Gen Zs leaving encouraging comments.

“PM Lee 0.5 better than us!!” said one Instagram user.

Source: Instagram

Meanwhile, others succinctly noted how “cute” Singapore’s prime minister is.

Source: Instagram

It’s pretty clear that PM Lee, or at least his endearing photo, has made an impression on Singapore’s younger generation.

In fact, this isn’t the first time he’s kept up with the latest photography trend.

Nine years ago, he was captured whipping out his selfie stick to take pictures with Facebook staff in Singapore.

Source: Lee Hsien Loong on Facebook

4. When he said ‘mee siam mai hum’ during National Day Rally 2006

Back in 2006, PM Lee made a notable comment about one of Singapore’s local dishes during the National Day Rally.

He spoke about political discourse in new media, noting that the Government can use “art, humour, wit” to get its point across.

However, serious issues cannot always be dealt with in a lighthearted tone. PM Lee then said:

“I give you an example, you put out a funny podcast, you talk about bak chor mee. I will say mee siam mai hum (mee siam no cockles).”

@aloytc26 #tiktoksg #sgtv #nationaldayrally #yearlyaffair #yearlymessage #sgprimeminister #leehsienloong #pmlee #2006 #meesiammaihum #nocockles ♬ original sound – aloytc26

His slip-up quickly caught the attention of Singaporeans, with many exclaiming that mee siam does not even contain cockles to begin with.

Since then, the phrase has paved the way for memes, and even an online game created by Shopee in 2019.

It has also been featured in the title of the book ‘Mee Siam Mai Hum: Some of the Darnedest Things Our Politicians Say’, published by Epigram Books in 2017.

5. When he fainted on live television in 2016

PM Lee has also had days when he was weighed down by his health.

On the night of 21 August 2016, he appeared unsteady while delivering his National Day Rally speech.

The 64-year-old PM Lee took ill due to prolonged standing, heat, and dehydration, reported ST.

Despite collapsing and being led off the stage at about 9.20pm, PM Lee resumed his speech at about 10.40pm after doctors gave him the all-clear.

Source: Tharman Shanmuragatnam on Facebook

“He’s got real mental strength,” wrote Mr Tharman Shanmuragatnam in his Facebook post a day after the incident.

While he had to take a break, “he eventually came back to a standing ovation, looking good, and ended his speech on an uplifting note on our future as Singaporeans”, he added.

It’s heartening to know that PM Lee will be able to get some rest after he relinquishes his office on 15 May (although, he’s still staying on as Senior Minister).

It’s no doubt that his outstanding qualities such as resilience and ability to connect with his citizens will be fondly remembered.

Also read: PM Lee to step down on 15 May, will hand over the reins to DPM Lawrence Wong before polls

PM Lee to step down on 15 May, will hand over the reins to DPM Lawrence Wong before polls

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Featured image adapted from Lee Hsien Loong on Facebook, Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore on YouTube and YouTube.

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