Li Shengwu wins the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship while Li Hongyi continues to work in father’s office

It was reported on TOC that Singaporean economist and academic, Mr Li Shengwu, 38, has been awarded the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship for 2023. Shengwu, who is the son of Lee Hsien Yang and the estranged nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has been recognised for his exceptional academic contributions in the field of economics by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

“Sloan Research Fellows are shining examples of innovative and impactful research,” said Adam Falk, president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The Sloan Research Fellowship is given to outstanding early-career researchers across the US and Canadian institutions, in recognition of their potential to revolutionize their fields of study. The fellowship is administered by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and has been awarded annually since 1955, in close coordination with the scientific community.

Candidates must be nominated by their fellow scientists and the selection process is highly competitive. Winners are selected by independent panels of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s research accomplishments, creativity, and potential to become a leader in their field.

Many past Sloan Fellows have gone on to become towering figures in science, with 56 Fellows receiving a Nobel Prize in their respective fields, 17 winning the Fields Medal in mathematics, and 22 winning the John Bates Clark Medal in economics, including every winner since 2007.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang expressed his joy and pride in his son’s latest accomplishment, saying, “I am thrilled that Shengwu continues to bring honour to Singapore.”

Shengwu is currently an Assistant Professor of Economics at Harvard University. However, he is also under self-exile from Singapore following a series of unpleasant exchanges between him and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) over its relentless pursuit of a charge of contempt of court for a private Facebook post he made in 2017. In July 2020, Shengwu was found guilty of the charge, and he was required to pay a fine of S$15,000.

In a Facebook post, Shengwu said, “The government has wasted three years of civil servants’ time” over “three words in a private Facebook post”. He also criticised the AGC, stressing that it is “supposed to be an apolitical agency, even though the current attorney general was my uncle’s personal lawyer”.

“In a kind of cruel irony, the AGC has spent long hours lecturing me about my grandfather’s values,” he added. Reminiscing about the past, he quipped, “I was arranging my bookshelf the other day, I came across a gift (book by late Lee Kuan Yew, his grandfather) from my childhood. Those were better times, before my uncle bullied his siblings and tore the family apart.”

Li Hongyi works in his father’s office

Meanwhile, Shengwu’s cousin, Li Hongyi, 35, who is the son of Prime Minister Lee, is currently working at GovTech as a Director.

According to Hongyi’s LinkedIn information, he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2011 and worked for two years at Google till 2013.

Thereafter he came back to Singapore to work as a civil servant in GovTech.

On his LinkedIn page, he stated that he has helped build a new team of 22 software engineers, UI designers, and project managers to initiate and build tech products for the public sector.

GovTech was originally constituted as a statutory board in the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI).

In 2017, GovTech was taken out from MCI and placed under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Together with the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), they collectively form the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) in PMO.

So, in essence, Hongyi is literally now working in his father’s office.


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