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US Vice President Joe Biden calls Lee Kuan Yew the 'wisest man in the Orient'?

Is this another birthday present for Singapore's former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew?

This time, he got a ringing endorsement from US Vice President Joe Biden.

Mr Lee turned 91 last Tuesday (Sept 16).

And Mr Biden said at an Iowa event last Wednesday: "You know, on the way back from Mumbai to go meet with President Xi in China, I stopped in Singapore to meet with a guy named Lee Kuan Yew, (whom) most foreign policy experts around the world say is the wisest man in the Orient."

 

 

While the comment is certainly positive, Biden has come under fire, especially on social media and the American news media over his use of the word "Orient - an outdated term that could be perceived as offensive or insensitive.

The Republican National Committee was quick to point out the gaffe.

Its Asian-American spokesman Ninio Fetalvo said: "Vice President Joe Biden's insensitive remarks are offensive to both Asian-Americans and our Asian allies abroad.

"His comment is not only disrespectful but also uses unacceptable imperialist undertones. It's time for the vice president to apologise and to understand that his comments embarrass our country," continued Fetalvo.

This comes after another gaffe where he used the term "shylocks" to refer to moneylenders haggling with people serving the army overseas. 

The term originally comes from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice where Shylock is a jewish moneylender. Typically, the name refers to greed.

Biden, who could be considering a presidential run in 2016, has since apologised - admitting that it was a "poor choice of words."

Sources: Politico, ABC News, NBC News

 

 

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