Li Hongyi and Li Shengwu are the two latest Internet sensation from the Lee family

Will one of them change their surname to "Lee" soon?

Martino Tan| March 31, 12:34 AM

Among the eulogy videos, guess who received the most video views in the Prime Minister's Office YouTube channel?

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong? Wrong.

His brother Lee Hsien Yang? Wrong again.

Grandsons Li Hongyi and Li Shengwu outshone their dads in the YouTube popularity stakes.

In fact, a video of either Hongyi (118,623 views) or Shengwu (80,320 views) is more popular than the combined views of the private eulogies by PM Lee (34,906 views) and Lee Hsien Yang (22,310 views).

Hongyi_Shengwu2 Prime Minister's Office YouTube Channel Updated at 12.05, Mar.31


In the public eulogy for Mr Lee Kuan Yew at the University Cultural Centre of the National University of Singapore, PM Lee went for the head, while Lee Hsien Yang went for the heart.

In a reversal of roles, Hongyi went for the heart, while Shengwu went for the head.

In political nerd speak, it resembles the first 1960 Presidential Election debates between John F.Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Those who heard Kennedy-Nixon on radio thought Nixon won, while those who watched Kennedy-Nixon on television thought Kennedy won.

Those who watched Hongyi-Shengwu on YouTube probably thought Hongyi won, while those who read Hongyi-Shengwu in the papers probably thought Shengwu won.

Okay, enough of the comparisons.

Below are the videos and full text for the speeches for you to decide. 

Li Hongyi's eulogy

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Who is Hongyi?


Relationship to the Lee family: Second son of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Age: 28 years old

Where is he now? Working at the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

Achievements: Received a Public Service Commission scholarship and studied economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.'s eligibility rating: Had PM Lee's soulful deep voice.

Best line: "We should remember him less as a man who gave us great gifts, and more as a man who showed us the kind of people we could be."

Mentions in the media:

In The Straits Times, Jul 13. 2007, Hongyi was reprimanded by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) for not following proper procedures in e-mailing a letter of complaint to many other servicemen. He alleged that another officer from his unit, had been absent without leave or AWOL on two occasions.

In The Straits Times today, Ho Ching, the wife of PM Lee, recounted how Hongyi set up a portrait of his late grandfather at his lying-in-state at Parliament House last week.

Full speech from the Prime Minister's Office:

Some years ago when I was preparing to go to university, Yeye gave me a camera. This was the first and only time he ever gave me a present. Over the next few years I got deeply into photography and took thousands of photos of my time in college. After I graduated I got a book printed with my favourite ones. I presented it to him as a thank you for his gift and hopefully to show him I had done something good with it.

Yeye was more than a grandfather to me. He was an inspiration. As a child, I looked up to him and wanted to grow up to be the kind of man he was. And even now, I still do.

We would have lunch with Yeye and Nainai every Sunday at their house. We always ate simple things: mee rebus, nasi lemak, popiah. He was never one concerned with luxury or lavishness. The idea that he would care about how fancy his food was or what brand his clothes were was ridiculous. His mind was always on more important things. He would have discussions with our parents while my cousins and I would sit by the side and listen. I would always feel a bit silly after listening. He made me realize how petty all my little concerns were and how there were so many bigger problems in the world. He made me want to do something more with my life.

He was not an especially charming man. Yet when he spoke you felt compelled to listen. Because when he spoke you knew he was being straight with you. He was not trying to cajole or flatter. He would be completely frank and honest. After speaking to him in person you knew that his speeches were not puffed up fluff. They were truly his opinions on the matters he cared most about. He would never echo empty slogans or narrow-minded ideologies; it was always thoroughly researched and well-considered perspectives. I had the privilege once of accompanying Yeye to a ceremony in Washington where he was receiving an award. Hearing him speak and watching the entire room listen made me feel so proud. His charisma came not from showmanship but from pure substance.

Yeye understood the limits of his knowledge. He made it a point to try and understand the flaws and risks of his own perspectives better than anyone else. This was especially true when it came to Singapore. He refused to let blind nationalism run this country into the ground. He cared deeply about this country and made sure that he was aware of any weaknesses that could cause us harm. And yet he was very proud of Singapore and confident that we could be better.

Yeye showed me that you could make a difference in this world. Not just that you could make a difference, but that you could do it with your head held high. You didn't have to lie, cheat, or steal. You didn't have to charm, flatter, or cajole. You didn't have to care about frivolous things or play silly games. You could do something good with your life, and the best way to do so was to have good principles and conduct yourself honourably.

People admired Yeye for his brilliant mind. They admired him for his ability to lead and rally us together. They admired him for all of his staggering accomplishments. These are all true. But to me, what made him a great man was the person he chose to be. A man of character, clarity, and conviction. We should remember him less as a man who gave us great gifts, and more as a man who showed us the kind of people we could be.

When Yeye gave me that camera years ago, he wrote me a note. It was a simple note without any flowery language or cheap sentiment. He simply told me that he hoped I made good use of it. I hope I have.

Li Shengwu's eulogy

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Who is Shengwu?


Relationship to Lee family: Eldest son of corporate chief Lee Hsien Yang

Age: 30 years old

Where is he now? PhD. candidate in Economics at Stanford University

Achievements: Best Speaker at the Worlds Universities Debating Championships, the most prestigious debating tournament in the world, Clarendon Scholarship, Overseas Research Scholarship's eligibility rating: Had the boy-next-door look that heart-lander aunties like.

Best line: "When Singapore was cut adrift from Malaysia, you adopted an orphaned nation and made us all your children."

Mentions in the media:

In The Straits Times, Aug 18. 2009, Shengwu was one of the three Singaporeans who topped their respective courses at Oxford University.

In The Straits Times, Jan 9. 2010, Shengwu was crowned Best Speaker at the World Universities Debating Championships in Turkey, the third Singaporean to receive the award.

Full speech from the Prime Minister's Office:

Honoured guests, friends, and family.

When the grandchildren were very little, Ye Ye would take us on walks to feed the fishes at the Istana. We would perch on the edge of the pond, the ripples of our breadcrumbs breaking the mirrored surface of the water. He liked to have the grandchildren nearby as he rode his stationery bike on the green grass.

Sunday lunch with Ye Ye was an institution for our family. His voice and his hearty laugh would carry to the childrens’ table, talking about matters of state, recounting meetings with foreign leaders whose names we neither recognized nor remembered.

In a city of continual renewal, my grandparents’ house never changed. Always the same white walls, the same wooden furniture, the same high windows letting in sunlight. The food stayed the same too; Singapore cooking of a kind that would not be out of place at a good stall in a hawker center. Ye Ye and Nai Nai would take us on outings, to the zoo, to the science center, to National Day. I remember that when I was a child, I believed that the chief benefit of his position was that it came with a marvelous view of the fireworks.

Ye Ye loved his role as a doting grandfather. It delighted him, at each Chinese New Year, when the grandchildren would line up to greet him and receive hongbaos. After Nai Nai had her second stroke in June 2008, he continued the tradition, preparing himself the hongbaos for his grandchildren.

As I grew up, sometimes I would talk to Ye Ye about politics and the state. Always he spoke with the courage of his convictions; with a certainty born of long consideration. As you might guess, we didn’t always agree. At the dining table, he never argued opportunistically – he never took a position he didn’t believe for a tactical advantage. The facts were the facts - our beliefs should accord with the evidence, and not the other way around.

To grow up in Singapore is to grow up in his shadow; to see in our skyscrapers, our schools, our highways, and our homes the force of his singular vision.

History is full of plans for the total transformation of society. Plato’s Republic. Abbe Sieyes’ What is the Third Estate? The Communist Manifesto. Few plans succeed, and many cause more bloodshed than happiness. As such plans go, his was compassionate - even humane. His objective was that his fellow citizens, you and I, would know peace and plenty. He believed that education, open markets, and clean government would make the people of Singapore a great people.

That his plan succeeded is beyond dispute. It succeeded so rapidly, so thoroughly, that to my generation of Singaporeans, the poverty and instability of Singapore’s beginning feels almost unreal - like a fever dream chased away by the morning light.

He was our man of tomorrow. From the day he took office in 1959, he fought to bring Singapore into the future. In real terms in 1959, the average Singaporean was as poor as the average American in the year 1860. Today Singapore is one of the most developed countries in the world. The Singapore economy has advanced more in fifty years than the American economy has advanced in one hundred and fifty years. This is a pace of progress that is less like economic development, and more like time travel.

Once, at the suggestion that a monument might be made for him, my grandfather replied, “Remember Ozymandias”. He was, of course, referring to Shelley’s sonnet about Ramses the Second, the greatest Pharaoh of the Egyptian empire. In the poem, a lone traveller encounters a broken statue in the desert. On the statue, the inscription, “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” Nothing beside remains.

I think his meaning was that, if Singapore does not persist, then a monument will be no help. And if Singapore does persists, then a monument will be unnecessary. And that assessment is accurate: His legacy is not cold stone, but a living nation. We could no more forget him than we could forget the sky.

It is often said that my grandfather built great institutions for Singapore. But what is an institution? It is a way of doing things that outlives the one who builds it. A strong institution is robust, it is persistent. It does not depend precariously on individual personalities. It places the rule of law above the rule of man. And that is the sacrifice of being a builder of institutions. To build institutions is to cede power – is to create a system that will not forever rely on you. That this occasion passes without disorder or uncertainty shows that he succeeded in this task. We are bereft at his passing, but we are not afraid. The pillars that he built stand strong, the foundations that he dug run deep.

The next task falls to us. I think my grandfather always saw my generation of Singaporeans with a mixture of trepidation and hope. We are children of peacetime, unacquainted with the long struggle to make Singapore a modern nation-state. We view stability, prosperity, and the rule of law as our birthrights, for good or ill.

We have our own visions for what Singapore will be. Some of our hopes may seem idealistic or far-fetched. But my grandfather’s vision must have seemed pretty outlandish too, when he stood in an impoverished backwater 50 years ago, and promised that it would become a modern metropolis. He showed us that, he showed us by example that with courage and clear thinking, Singapore can rise above its circumstances and be a light to the world.

Ye Ye, you started by fighting for Merdeka - for our right to rule ourselves. I found out this week that Merdeka has its roots in an old Dutch word, meaning a freed slave. When Singapore was cut adrift from Malaysia, you adopted an orphaned nation and made us all your children.

Ye Ye, you chose to forsake personal gain and the comforts of an ordinary life, so that the people of Singapore could have a better life for themselves, and for their children and for their grandchildren. That Singapore is safe, that Singapore is prosperous, that Singapore is - for this we owe a debt that we cannot repay.

Ye Ye - We will try to make you proud. Majulah Singapura.

Both are 28-30 years old this year and do not have to look far for political inspiration.

Their dad/uncle entered politics at the age of 32.

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Top photo screengrab from Prime Minister's Office Youtube channel.