Here are 7 things to know about PM Lee's online habits because he is a geek at heart

He likes to see stars and had a Spotify subscription.

Henedick Chng | February 26, 2017, 03:28 PM

We all know that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is a bit of a geek.

He harbours a love for coding, and was once praised by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as "one of the only world leaders who knows how to code."

During a dialogue session at Camp Sequoia on Friday (Feb. 24), PM Lee shared more interesting insights into his activities on the internet.

The event was organised by Sequoia Capital, an Indian venture capital firm with an office in Singapore.

Here is what we learned about his media usage and consumption habits online.

1. He gets news only from media websites.

PM Lee doesn't watch television anymore because he gets his news via mainstream media websites:

"I have on my desktop the news websites open: BBC, New York Times, Straits Times, Channel News Asia. They are there all the time. Because of that, I do not watch the television news anymore. If you want to see the snippet, it is there all the time."

2. He finds social media - Facebook and Instagram "fun"

PM Lee has more than 1.15 million Facebook followers and 284,000 on Instagram. With his number of Facebook followers equivalent to one-fifth of Singapore's total population size, he is the country's most popular politician online.

And he finds it fun to track his posts and monitors them regularly:

"I have Facebook open and Instagram, because I have accounts. I track what is happening to my posts, what people are saying, and whether we have to respond to it or not. It is quite useful because without those, I would not reach out to significant segments of the population, here and overseas. It is also fun, if you do not become addicted to it."

It’s quite the romantic period, with Chap Goh Mei and Valentine’s Day just a few days apart. Thought this photo of a pair of lovebirds especially fitting this rooster year. You may recognise the rooster from my Facebook posts. He belongs to my neighbour, and we recently found him a friend. So now they both spend even more time at our place paktor-ing. In fact, we spotted a freshly laid egg in the garden. :) Whether you are young or old, I hope you let your loved ones know how much you appreciate them, and not just today. Don’t forget to give them a peck on the cheek! Happy Valentine’s Day! – LHL (PMO Photo by Chiez How)

A post shared by Lee Hsien Loong (@leehsienloong) on

3. He likes to see stars online

He likes to see stars, but not celebrities. More like astronomy:

"I look at a page called Astronomy Picture of the Day. Some of you may know of that. Every day there is a picture, a nebula, a supernova, the sun, rings of Saturn, something like that."

4. He reads mathematicians' blogs

Lee is a fan follower of Terry Tao an Australian-American mathematician.

(Okay, if you know what PM Lee is talking about below, you also qualify as a geek.)

"I sometimes look at blogs by mathematicians to track what they are doing. I follow Terry Tao’s [Terrence Tao Chi-Shen] blog. He covers all sorts of things. Usually I get lost after the first two paragraphs of his post but it is interesting to know what he is working on. He is the chap who proved that you can have as long a series of primes in arithmetic progression as you like. In other words, you can have ten primes which are in arithmetic progression or one hundred or one thousand. It is something which people were looking for many, many years. He has done many other things."

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="224"]Terry Tao. Source: Wikipedia Terry Tao. Source: Wikipedia[/caption]

5. He visits photography sites

It is no secret that PM Lee is a photography enthusiast with his many posts on Facebook and Instagram, but he also delves into geekier aspects in his appreciation of it.

"I look at photography websites because I take pictures. You pick up ideas looking at what people do, how they take the pictures. Some hints, some sense of what you are looking for and how you analyse a scene. Now when I look at pictures, you do not just say it is very pretty. You figure out where his leading lines are, where his focuses are, whether he put it on the one-third line or not and all sorts of technical things. It is like wine, oenophiles drinking wine and activating the brains instead of just the taste buds. But it is fun."

6. He uses a Kindle

However, he does not find it quite like a physical book:

"I read mostly on Kindle now because it is much more convenient than carrying a book. Although it does not get absorbed as well as with a physical book. With a physical book you have a sense of where you are, how far to go, where they fit together. You can flip back, you can sideline. You can sort of do that in the Kindle, not the same, but overall the convenience makes it worthwhile."

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="447"]Kindle. Source: Wikipedia Kindle. Source: Wikipedia[/caption]

7. Google Earth, iTunes and Spotify

Occasionally, Lee dabbles in apps like Google Earth, iTunes and Spotify:

"I have lots of other apps but I use them less often. Google Earth, from time to time. iTunes, not very often. I tried Spotify. I signed on and from inertia, I left it on for about two years and I was paying them $10 a month. I will tolerate the advertisements every 20 minutes if I decide to listen to them again. That is where I am."

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="244"]Google Earth. Source: Wikipedia Google Earth. Source: Wikipedia[/caption]

As an active participant on social media, PM Lee is not an uncritical user. He is well aware of the benefits the medium brings but is also conscious of the risks. As what he told the dialogue participants:

"I watch to see whether I am influencing people or whether I am being manipulated by the system. It is not clear because either the population changes, the mechanisms, or the algorithms change, and posts that used to score spectacular homeruns, now have no audience sometimes. You are not sure whether the world has changed, whether you have become boring or whether the algorithm is trying harder to persuade you to click on ‘boost this post’!"

Top image taken from Twitter.

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