Yesterday (14 Jan), PM Lee hosted Czech Republic Prime Minister Andrej Babis to an official dinner at the Istana.

He told the Czech PM that Bata shoes, which originated from Czech, have strong association with Singaporeans.

Even PM Lee, like the “many generations of school children in Singapore”, can attest to having worn a pair of white canvas Bata shoes to school.

“I wore them too,” he told the Czech PM.

Bata Shoe Company was founded on 24 August 1894 in the Moravian town of Zlin, Austria-Hungary (today’s Czech Republic) by Tomas Bata, a Czech.

However, even though PM Lee might have worn white canvas Bata shoes like the rest of Singaporean school kids, he grew up playing at the Istana while most Singaporean kids in those days play in kampungs or around HDB flats.

In fact, it was reported that at one time, PM Lee and his younger brother Hsien Yang messed up the telephone exchange by unplugging the wires while playing in Istana when they were kids.

In any case, at the official dinner yesterday, PM Lee also thanked the Czech Republic’s “strong and consistent support” for the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which was signed last October. He hoped the agreement will be ratified by EU soon.

The Czech PM is in Singapore for a two-day official visit.

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