- Reuters, Instagram/ @airtangan_tunkuazizah, The Straits Times
The way to a man’s heart is through sambal belacan – at least that seems to be the case for Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, the late Lee Kuan Yew.
Malaysia’s current queen, the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, on Friday (Oct 25) revealed more insights into the “belacan friendship” she established with the elder Lee over the years.
Today, the Queen continues her unique brand of diplomacy with Lee Hsien Loong, who on Sunday evening took to Twitter to thank her for her spicy and delicious gifts.
“Thank you for your warmth and kindness, sending my father (and me) your special sambal belacan all these years! I hope you enjoy making it as much as we enjoy eating it!” the PM wrote.
PM Lee’s message was in response to the Queen’s Friday tweet, which contained photos of four letters written to her from Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
In each letter from 2010 to 2012, the elder Lee thanked the Queen for sending him bottles and bottles of homemade delicacies, including sambal belacan, ikan bilis and cornflakes.
“Through the years … LKY (and) I had a sambal belacan friendship,” the Queen wrote in her tweet.
“I was told by a Minister from Spore that my sambal would be served at lunch after their weekly cabinet meeting… The way to a man’s heart is (through) the stomach,” she said.
Thank you for your warmth and kindness, sending my father (and me) your special sambal belacan all these years! I hope you enjoy making it as much as we enjoy eating it! 🙂 – LHL
— Lee Hsien Loong (@leehsienloong) October 28, 2019
Lee Kuan Yew’s letters to Tunku Azizah were filled with words of gratitude. “I am much indebted to you,” he wrote in a letter dated April 2012, while another letter from the year before stated that he valued her “friendship and kindness”.
In June 2010, the then-minister mentor of Singapore wrote: “I do not know how to return your generosity. If there’s anything I can get from you from Singapore, do let me know.”
“Thank you for being the official supplier of sambal belacan,” he wrote in another letter two months later.
This is not the first time the Queen has shared details about her samabl belacan-based friendship with the Lee family.
In May 2018, she posted a photo of a 2009 letter from Lee Kuan Yew. In the letter, he told Tunku Azizah that he shared the six packets of belacan she sent with his two sons – Hsien Loong and Hsien Yang – and described it as “the best chilli belacan” we have tasted.
“They have all been consumed…Can my family have a few more?
“Sorry to trouble you over this. It makes so many dishes taste better,” he added.
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On a separate occasion, the Queen shared photos of a letter and gifts sent by PM Lee and his wife Ho Ching, thanking her for gifting them with two cookbooks. In return, he sent her two cookbooks containing recipes passed down from his grandmother and written by his cousin, Peranakan chef Shermay Lee.
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