3 Singaporeans top at Oxford

(The Straits Times) – THREE Singaporeans topped their respective courses at Oxford University this years, in a rare and extraordinary showing. They did politics, philosophy and economics (PPE); physics; and law.

One of them is the grandson of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

Mr Li Shengwu, 24, whose father is Fraser and Neave chairman Lee Hsien Yang, took top spot in his PPE class of 240 students. Mr Shyam Srinivasan, 22, was first among 70 who did physics while Mr Colin Liew, 23, scored first in law and bagged a &pound1,250 (S$2,900) award.

Mr Liew's achievement was reported in the Sunday Times on Jul 26.

The three top scorers are among 13 Singaporeans who graduate from Oxford this year. The trio's achievement is unprecedented, said Mr Chim Yi Hua, a fellow PPE graduate with Mr Li.

The former president of the Oxford University Malaysian and Singaporean Students' Association (OUMSSA) said he could not recall such an unusual outcome in recent years. 'It's not easy to top one's cohort – not at all. To have three this year is very rare,' said Mr Chim, 22.

Added Mr Li: 'It's one of those things where the element of chance featured a great deal in the outcome.' Mr Srinivasan said he was not overly surprised by the coincidence. 'Singaporeans generally do very well in Oxford.'

Besides topping PPE, Mr Li was also named the top overall economics student across Oxford's 30 colleges that offer PPE and 18 that offer a joint degree in history and economics. He received the Hicks and Webb Medley prize and &pound300 prize money for his achievement.

As for Mr Srinivasan, a former Indian national from Chennai who became a Singapore citizen in 2006, is also holder of an Overseas Merit Scholarship for teaching was 'very stimulated and encouraged' by his tutors at St. Hugh's.

He will return after completing his masters in applied physics at Columbia University in the United States, and embark on a teaching career after he does his national service. His passion for physics culminated in the Scott Prize for best performance in physics and &pound300 in prize money.