'Tharman takes over as new prime minister': Blunder by Indian media at G20 summit has netizens snickering

'Tharman takes over as new prime minister': Blunder by Indian media at G20 summit has netizens snickering
Lee Hsien Loong (right) at the G20 summit on Sept 10, 2023.
PHOTO: AsiaOne, Facebook/Lee Hsien Loong

Were they uninformed, or did they simply made a mistake?

Indian media outlet India Today committed a faux pas when they announced PM Lee Hsien Loong's arrival at the Group of 20 (G20) summit last Friday (Sept 8), commenting that Tharman Shanmugaratnam would be the next prime minister taking over Lee's role.

Lee's arrival at the G20 Summit saw him walk down a red carpet before pressing his palms together before him and greeting India's PM Narenda Modi.

Introducing Lee as the "outgoing Prime Minister of Singapore", a commentator on the YouTube channel of India Today said: "There is an Indian-origin prime minister — a Tamilian, in fact — who takes over as the new prime minister."

Another commentator can be heard repeatedly saying, "extremely right", concurring that president-elect Tharman, 66, will be Singapore's new prime minister.

@justjsss #wakeupsingapore #tiktoksgviral #tiktoksg🇸🇬 #sgnews #sgtrending #mediafreedom #Singapore ♬ original sound - Jay

On TikTok, footage of this live recording has netizens tittering as they expressed amusement at this error.

Said one: "So funny… where did they get this information?"

Another said jokingly: "After president, he (Tharman) becomes prime minister, wow!"

A comment also stated: "Really unprofessional and uneducated journalism from India. Why can't they get the facts right?"


In a statement of clarification that India Today posted on Sunday (Sept 10), the publication wrote: "During the live commentary of the G-20 Leaders Summit, it was inadvertently said on India Today that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is the 'outgoing prime minister' [and] will be 'replaced' by Tharman Shanmugaratnam. 

"Regretfully, both the above information are factually incorrect.

"Lee Hsien Loong is the current Prime Minister of Singapore. Tharman Shanmugaratnam is the President-elect of Singapore.

"The error is regretted."

Lee was at the G20 Summit that took place in New Delhi from Sept 9 to 10.

He addressed world leaders on the World Trade Organisation's reforms pertaining to sustainable development during the third session of the two-day summit, The Straits Times reported on Sunday.

"We therefore urge the G-20 to provide a strong impetus to advance negotiations on WTO reform, in particular, to restore a fully functioning dispute settlement system as soon as possible," Lee said.

He stressed that "multilateralism is yet alive", even though cooperation among nations in addressing global problems has deteriorated.

He added in a later statement to the media: "From Singapore’s point of view, we would much prefer to have one big framework which works for everyone. But we are not going to have that. So in this environment, we do our best to make friends... to see what we can work out.

"Countries will still work together. It means we have to work harder."



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