THE problem of brain drain has hit close to home for Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.
His grandson Li Hongyi, who is studying economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States on a Public Service Commission scholarship, recently advised his younger brother not to accept a scholarship.
His younger sibling, Li Haoyi, had just scored 43 out of a possible 45 for his International Baccalaureate exams.
Both are sons of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
MM Lee, without identifying the grandsons by name, related what Hongyi said in a recent letter at a dialogue session on Friday: 'He has written to his brother who has just got his Baccalaureate results, and says, 'Don't take a scholarship'.
MM Lee spoke about how Singapore was now losing talent because its English-educated population was marketable.
'Our problem now is we have an educated population, educated in English which makes them marketable,' he said.
'Way back in the 1960s we were net gainers because the wealthy countries, mostly whites, excluded Asians. So Malaysia's Chinese and other Indonesians stayed here. Now they leave.
'They go to Australia and New Zealand, Canada, US, and big open countries. Our students are now being harvested from the top colleges in the US,' he said.
As for his own grandson, it seems that despite the brotherly advice he received lately, Haoyi is thinking of applying for an Infocomm Development Authority(IDA) scholarship.
MM Lee spoke candidly about a chat he had with Haoyi over lunch at his house on Sunday, revealing that he had to ask his grandson what IDA stood for.
He was told it was the Government's agency for information technology.
'He doesn't want to work in any other,' MM Lee said.
'I said, 'Why not broaden your experience?' Anyway, I hope he does apply and he will come back.