Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong family feud erupts again

Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong family feud erupts again

  • 14 June 2017
  • From the section Asia

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks at a joint press conference with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (not pictured) after witnessing a signing ceremony for a memorandum of understanding agreement between both countries at the Istana presidential palace in Singapore on 28 July 2015.Image copyright
AFP/Getty Images

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Mr Lee Hsien Loong is the eldest son of the late and revered Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew

A long-running feud among the family of Singapore’s prime minister over the legacy of their father, the country’s first leader, has resurfaced.

In Facebook posts, two of PM Lee Hsien Loong’s siblings accused him of going against their late father Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes and abusing his power.

The family dispute centres on a legal tussle over a house which belonged to their father.

The prime minister, a popular leader, strongly denied all the allegations.

But the row has shocked many in the city-state, where the Lees, widely considered Singapore’s “First Family”, are held in high regard.

Lee Kuan Yew was the prime minister of Singapore when it reluctantly became independent in 1965, and is credited with steering its rapid economic and political transformation.

Known to many as LKY, he was often criticised for his restrictive approach to politics, jailing or suing his opponents and restricting freedoms.

Despite this, he is still held in huge affection by Singaporeans, who turned out in the thousands to mourn him when he died in 2015.

Demolition or preservation?

The family dispute first became public on the anniversary of Mr Lee’s death, when the prime minister’s sister, Lee Wei Ling, accused him of exploiting the late leader’s legacy for his own gain.

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Reuters

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Mr Lee Hsien Yang (left) and Ms Lee Wei Ling (second from right) are seen in this 2003 photo with their father Lee Kuan Yew (right)

In the early hours of Wednesday, Ms Lee and her brother, Lee Hsien Yang, released a statement saying they had lost confidence in their brother as the nation’s leader.

They accused the prime minister of being opposed to carrying out their late father’s wishes – as stated in his will – that the family home at 38 Oxley Road be eventually demolished, rather than becoming a monument to him.

The prime minister had previously stated he would recuse himself from all government decisions on the house, and he personally wished to honour his father’s wishes.

But his siblings accused him of backtracking from this position, and said they felt “threatened” by Mr Lee’s “misuse of his position and influence over the Singapore government and its agencies to drive his personal agenda” and “fear the use of the organs of state” against them.

They gave no specific details to back up any of their allegations.

Image copyright
AFP/Getty Images

Image caption

The late leader Lee Kuan Yew had stated in his will that the house, seen here in 2016, be demolished after his death

Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister since 2004, said in a statement on Wednesday that he was “very disappointed” that his siblings had publicised “private family matters” in a statement that “has hurt our father’s legacy”.

He denied all their allegations, including “the absurd claim” that he had political ambitions for one of his sons.

Mr Lee, who is overseas and on leave, said he would consider the matter further after his return this weekend.

Lee Hsien Yang, who is chair of Singapore’s aviation authority, told the BBC he would “leave Singapore soon” and was “looking at a number of options” on places to move to.