Li Shengwu

Li Shengwu – Rejected by Singapore, Acknowledged by Harvard and USA

Lee Kuan Yew’s grandson Li Shengwu, has been awarded the prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship for 2023. Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships is awarded by American non-profit organization the Alfred P Sloan Foundation. It honors US/Canadian researchers whose “creativity, innovation, and research accomplishments make them stand out as the next generation of leaders”.

There are 125 early-career researchers selected for the fellowship this year. Candidates must be nominated by other scientists/researchers. Winners are selected by independent panels of senior scholars based on a candidate’s “research accomplishments, creativity and potential to become a leader in their field”, the organisation added.

Li Shengwu is an assistant professor of economics at Harvard University. He will be receiving a two-year, US$75,000 (S$101,157) fellowship which can be used to advance his research.

His father, Lee Hsien Yang, shared the news on Facebook. He also expressed that he is thrilled that his son continues to bring honor to Singapore.

Li Shengwu continues to impress everyone. In 2016 he was the first Singaporean to become a fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows.

While Li Shengwu is acknowledged by Harvard and the academic world, he is rejected by Singapore for speaking truths.

Back in 2017, Li Shengwu made a private Facebook post where he shared a link to a New York Times editorial titled Censored In Singapore, with a description saying: “Keep in mind, of course, that the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system.”

He was ordered to pay the fine of S$15,000 within two weeks, or serve a week’s jail in default. He was also ordered to pay about S$16,000 for costs and disbursements. In Aug 2020, Mr Li announced that he will pay a S$15,000 fine for contempt of court, but said he does “not admit guilt”. He wrote a day before the deadline to make payment that he had decided to pay the fine “in order to buy some peace and quiet”.

He left Singapore in 2017 and hasn’t been back since for fear “of a political prosecution by the Singapore government”.

“The court case is technically over. However, I assess that there’s a substantial risk that my uncle, the Prime Minister, would find an excuse to imprison me were I to return to Singapore. He likes to relitigate old disputes. My uncle has a habit of suing his critics in Singapore courts”.

Li Shengwu

It makes no sense that such a brilliant man should feel afraid to come home. While he is making his mark in the world, he doesn’t feel safe stepping into Singapore.

This is a man who is more capable than most of his peers. Yet we cannot welcome him home to help our country. This is the sad state of affairs here.