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Singapore’s PM Lee reveals a hidden talent: computer coding a Sudoku game

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 May, 2015, 2:11pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 May, 2015, 2:44pm

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has a skill unlike those of many global leaders – writing computer software.

Lee, 63, son of the late Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, wrote in a post on his official Facebook account that some years ago he had written a program for the popular number puzzle game Sudoku, using the C++ computer language.

Lee, who is widely considered one of the most active politicians on social networks including Facebook and Twitter, published the original source code for the game in the post and explained the logic behind the program. He also answered questions raised by his followers.

“The program is pretty basic: it runs at the command prompt, in a DOS window … (it gives) the number of steps the program took searching for the solution, plus some search statistics,” Lee’s posting read. DOS refers to disk operating system, an old operating system that was mainly developed by US software firm Microsoft.

“Hope you have fun playing with this. Please tell me if you find any bugs! – LHL,” said Lee, who signs off personally written posts with his initials.

Lee, who has a degree from Britain’s Cambridge University in mathematics and a diploma in computer science, first posted the message on Monday. It had received more than 42,000 “likes” and nearly 15,000 shares on Facebook by Wednesday noon.

“Oh my god, I didn't know that you enjoyed coding, sir. The amazing PM!” said one post on Facebook under the name May Thandar Win.

Lee has about 770,000 fans on his official Facebook page and 168,000 followers for his verified Twitter account.

In a booklet titled “Tweets from the top” published by Twitter Inc in 2014, the owner of the real-time social network platform, Lee was named one of the most influential Asian politicians on social media, together with Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo with 480,000 fans on Twitter and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with 12.1 million Twitter fans.

By contrast in Hong Kong, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying does not have his own Facebook or Twitter accounts. The Hong Kong government once had an official Facebook page called “Lower Albert Road” during previous chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s tenure, but the page disappeared after Leung took the power.

Major social media networks including Facebook and Twitter have been banned in mainland China for years. No Chinese leader has an official social media account. However, state media, including the official Xinhua news agency and state broadcaster China Central Television, have stepped up their efforts to promote news and culture about China via their verified accounts of Facebook and Twitter in the last two years.