Lee Kuan Yew was the Best Student in Mathematics in Raffles College

We sincerely wish our ex-Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew all the best, and may he have a good recovery.

Many people know that Lee Kuan Yew was a lawyer and politician, but few knew that he liked and was very good at Mathematics as a student. We can know these facts from the book The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, Vol. 1, which is an interesting book to read.

Mathematical Excerpts from the book (Autobiography, so “I” means Lee Kuan Yew):

  • Each student had to take three subjects. I (Lee Kuan Yew) read English, which was compulsory for all arts students, and concentrated on it to improve my command of the language, and to help me study law later; mathematics, because I liked it and was good at it; and economics.
  • After the first year, a student had to choose one subject as his major field of study. I chose mathematics.
  • At the end of each of the three terms in the academic year there were examinations, and for the first of these I was the best student in mathematics, scoring over 90 marks.
  • I was good at mathematics and the sciences and had a solid grounding in the English language.

These are the quotes from the book that let us know more about the mathematical side of Lee Kuan Yew.

Hence, it is indeed apt and suitable that there is a prestigious award named “Lee Kuan Yew Award for Mathematics and Science” to honor students who have done well in Mathematics and Science subjects.

I hope you are inspired to learn more about Math, since even a famous person like LKY liked Math so much as to major in it. You can read more about Recommended Books for University Math where we list down all the best books for learning University Math.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Truly Outstanding Mathematics Student

Just to share an inspirational story about studying Mathematics, and our very own Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. 🙂

Source: http://www2.ims.nus.edu.sg/imprints/interviews/BelaBollobas.pdf

(page 8/8)

Interview of Professor Béla Bollobás, Professor and teacher of our Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

I: Interviewer Y.K. Leong

B: Professor Béla Bollobás

I: I understand that you have taught our present Prime
Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

B: I certainly taught him more than anybody else in
Cambridge. I can truthfully say that he was an exceptionally
good student. I’m not sure that this is really known in
Singapore. “Because he’s now the Prime Minister,” people
may say, “oh, you would say he was good.” No, he was truly
outstanding: he was head and shoulders above the rest of
the students. He was not only the first, but the gap between
him and the man who came second was huge.

I: I believe he did double honors in mathematics and computer science.

B: I think that he did computer science (after mathematics) mostly because his father didn’t want him to stay in pure mathematics. Loong was not only hardworking, conscientious and professional, but he was also very inventive. All the signs indicated that he would have been a world-class research mathematician. I’m sure his father never realized how exceptional Loong was. He thought Loong was very good. No, Loong was much better than that. When I tried to tell Lee Kuan Yew, “Look, your son is phenomenally good: you should encourage him to do mathematics,” then he implied that that was impossible, since as a top-flight professional mathematician Loong would leave Singapore for Princeton, Harvard or Cambridge, and that would send the wrong signal to the people in Singapore. And I have to agree that this was a very good point indeed. Now I am even more impressed by Lee Hsien Loong than I was all those years ago, and I am very proud that I taught him; he seems to be doing very well. I have come round to thinking that it was indeed good for him to go into politics; he can certainly make an awful lot of difference.