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| On 6 months ago

Is S’pore PM Lee’s Blue Tea Cup Our Next National Icon? We Count How Many Times It Appeared Online

It seems as though almost everything circulating the internet now is COVID-19 related—from new laws to statistics, and of course, memes. And like you, I am T-I-R-E-D. So, in true millennial spirit—which is to avoid confronting our worries and concerns about a problem at large and instead choose to make memes about it and laugh it off, I, too, have decided to tread on the lighter side of life just this once.

With every passing nation-wide address, our beloved Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has gained favour with the populace through his collected, calm, and conscientious ways, but he’s not the only thing the people love.

Credit – PM Lee’s Instagram

Growing in popularity as it makes more frequent appearances on television, we have none other than PM Lee’s iconic tea cup. You know what I’m talking about—the petite, oriental tea cup splashed with hues of deep and sky blue that always seems to be within reach during public addresses.

As it grasped the attention of more and more netizens, in the name of science, I set out to take one for the team and answer the question that’s on everyone’s minds once and for all—just how many times can we spot PM Lee’s iconic tea cup on his Instagram feed?

The first appearance

At long last, after trudging through all of PM Lee’s 2,268 Instagram posts, I’ve managed to trace back to when the cup made its first appearance—and it just took me a few hours of stalking our Prime Minister, no big deal. Ever since PM Lee’s first Instagram post on 27 May 2013 (yes, I have scrolled that far back to know), the elusive oriental tea cup has actually popped up every now and then.

Here it is in the distance, appearing for the very first time on PM Lee’s Instagram feed, unassuming, humble, and not realising the important role it will play during this nation’s incredibly trying time.

This was taken on 8 April 2014 when PM Lee met up with reporters from the Asia News Network (ANN), celebrating its 15th anniversary.

Cup appearance count: 1


Alas, there’s more than one!

Shortly after, the cup makes an appearance yet again on 23 April 2014, when PM Lee Met Hu Chunhua, the Party Secretary of Guangdong Province, for the first time. And lo and behold, there are two of them.

We see the internet’s current favourite cup appearing with its counterparts TWENTY more times, usually in a meeting or when PM Lee is hosting guests.

Cup appearance count: 22


Just passing through…

It doesn’t always get to bask in the limelight, but sometimes—just sometimes, we get a tiny glimpse of it peeking out from behind.

Cup appearance count: 29


And then, there were four

And…even more?

Cup appearance count: 32


Increased appearances in time of COVID-19

As PM Lee stays indoors more frequently, his dear tea cup, too, rises to greet us more often.

Cup appearance count: 34


The Big Break

So as you can see, even though the iconic tea cup has always been around, it took 6 long years and a circuit breaker announcement for it to finally get its big break on 3 April 2020. Dreams do come true, mom! They do!

Screengrab from PM Lee’s Address on 3 April 2020

A day to remember, 3 April marked the beginning of a new phase in Singapore’s fight against the coronavirus, as well as the day when PM Lee’s tea cup finally got the recognition it deserved—lauded as the “magic language-changing tea in a blue cup”.


This running joke came about when PM Lee took sips of water in between addresses, just before switching to speak in another language. Our PM has, in fact, always been trilingual, leading the values of racial harmony by example in the most tangible way possible—by being fluent in three out of four of our national languages.

This has also garnered the appreciation of many netizens online, with comments such as “we stan a trilingual king!” and “trilingual inspo” flooding Twitter and Instagram.

Asking the real questions.

Credit – SGAG

I’ll leave everyone to enjoy this hilarious meme made by our friends over at SGAG.

It has even riled up demand for a tea cup ASMR by the Prime Minister. Not weird at all.

And the tea cup’s fan base just keeps growing.

Cup appearance count: 35


It makes a comeback

When PM Lee was invited by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to share about Singapore’s efforts to fight the novel coronavirus, he wasn’t alone—his trusty cup was right there alongside him. And netizens were ready.

Again, the cup was received with open arms

Cup appearance count: 36


The tea cup, today

Today, the humble tea cup has assumed the role of PM Lee’s trusty sidekick—ever prepared, ever hydrating.

Cup appearance count: 38


38 times!

So there you have it. From the day it made its first advent, the cup has made 38 different appearances till date, and I’m convinced that we’ll be seeing it more often in the weeks to come.

Onward, tiny magic tea cup. May your services go forth and shine bright in PM Lee’s life, and in the lives of those who wait eagerly to spot you once more.

Credit – @YEOLO

Before I go, here’s a zoom background made by @YEOLO for your perusal, for your chance to be up close and personal with the legendary cup itself.

Did I miss any appearance out? Let me know in the comments, or let me know what else you’d like me to spend hours poring over. It’s not like I have anything better to do anyway.


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Vera Leng

Why do we call them toppings if they sink to the bottom?

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