PM Lee says he doesn’t want to “burden” his children with politics since it is “difficult enough” for them to carry his name

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with his son Li Hongyi. Hongyi is now deputy director of the Government Digital Services Data Science Division of the Goverment Technology Agency of Singapore, a statutory board under the Prime Minister's office.

Speaking to Bloomberg News editor-in-chief John Micklethwait at the inaugural Bloomberg New Economy Forum held here yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong indicated his children have not shown any interest in joining politics even though they are “entitled to”.

When Micklethwait asked PM Lee about whether the “next generation of Lees” would be entering politics, the head of Government said that it would be unkind of him to “burden” them since it is “difficult enough” for them to carry his name:

“Not sure any of them have shown any interest in coming to politics. They are entitled to, but I don’t think it’s likely they feel the same compulsion that I did – duty that I do. They have their own responsibilities, their careers. I’m sure they’ll make contributions in their own ways.

“But it would be unkind of me to add more burden on them. It’s difficult enough for them as it is to carry my name.”

PM Lee has a daughter, named Xiuqi, and three sons, named Yipeng, Hongyi and Haoyi. Both Xiuqi and Yipeng are PM Lee’s children from his late first wife, while Hongyi and Haoyi were born to PM Lee’s second wife, Singapore sovereign wealth fund, Temasek, CEO, Ho Ching.

Last year, PM Lee’s siblings Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang accused their elder brother of abusing his power as head of government to preserve their family home, against their late father, founding PM Lee Kuan Yew’s willed desire to demolish the house, in order to bolster his grip on power.

Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang also alleged that Lee Hsien Loong used state organs against him and that he was moulding his son, Hongyi, to enter politics.

30-year-old Li Hongyi, who currently serves as the deputy director in the Government Technology Agency of Singapore, under the Prime Minister’s Office, responded in a Facebook post then and said, “For what it is worth, I really have no interest in politics.”

Hongyi’s cousin and Lee Hsien Yang’s eldest son, Li Shengwu, later noted that Hongyi’s comments on a potential entry into Singapore politics is “vague” as he told the press: “He only said he has no interest in politics, but my uncle Lee Hsien Loong also once said he wasn’t interested in politics when he was in his 20s. These words can easily be taken back.”

Li Shengwu is being sued by the authorities for comments he made about the Singapore courts in a private, “friends only” Facebook post.

An academic at the prestigious Harvard University, Shengwu himself openly declared that he will “never go into politics” in the past and asserted that he is “completely unsuitable” for politics. Besides avowing his love for mathematics, Shengwu also said that he is not willing to lie about his beliefs, which he believes he will inevitably have to do if he becomes a politician:

“I believe I can become a top economist, my second love is mathematics, that’s where my interests are. As a politician, you will inevitably have to lie, I am not willing to lie about my beliefs, I am not up to it.”

Shengwu further said that the Singapore government is still using his grandfather’s name or political “halo” to increase their clout and asserted that Singapore no longer needs a leader from the Lee fold:

“I believe Singaporeans and the Singapore government should not constantly bring up Lee Kuan Yew, the institution should be larger than an individual. Singapore no longer needs someone from the Lee family as a leader, no matter which side.”

Li Shengwu and Li Hongyi are no longer on speaking terms but remain Facebook friends