President Trump refers to Singapore PM as 'Prime Minister Loong'

President Trump and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong departing together following a joint statement in the Rose Garden at the White House on Monday 23 Oct. (Photo: AP)

United States president Donald Trump got Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s name wrong in a social media post referring to Lee’s official visit to the White House.

On Monday evening Singapore time (23 October), Trump posted his day’s agenda on Facebook, saying that he had a “Working luncheon with Prime Minister Loong”. The post was later corrected to refer to the Singapore prime minister as ‘Prime Minister Lee’.

A screenshot of Trump’s Facebook post referring to PM Lee as Prime Minister Loong.

A handful of Singaporeans attempted to correct him by posting in the comments section, pointing out the president’s mistake but their posts were soon overtaken by other comments on the President’s Facebook page.

Lee is on a working visit to the US from 22 to 26 October and was at the White House on 23 October at the invitation of Trump.

Previous US President Barack Obama made a similar mistake when Lee visited the White House last August when he mispronounced the name of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew.

Describing Singapore’s progress, Obama said, “In less than a generation, under the vision and stewardship of Prime Minister Lee Kew, er, Wan, er, Lee, Lee Kuan Yew, Singaporeans transformed their nation from third world to first.”

Obama chuckled at his mistake, while Lee briefly glanced away.

The US has a history of gaffes when it comes to welcoming Singapore prime ministers to the White House. In October 1985, during the Arrival Ceremony at the White House welcoming then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew to the US, President Ronald Reagan said, “It gives me great pleasure to welcome Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Mrs Yew – Mrs Lee – to Singapore.”

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