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Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J. Nair

Singapore PM's family reignite bitter feud

June 14, 2017

The prime minister's siblings accuse him of using state apparatus against them and "milking" their father's legacy. The brother says he will now flee the country in fear.


Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong again became embroiled in a public family feud after his siblings released a condemning statement on Wednesday.

His younger brother and sister said they had lost confidence in the nation's leader and feared "the use of the organs of the state against us," in a rare public display of discord.

"We are concerned that the system has few checks and balances to prevent the abuse of government. We feel big brother omnipresent," Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang said in a joint news release and an accompanying six-page statement issued at 2 a.m. Singapore time.

"We feel hugely uncomfortable and closely monitored in our own country."

The siblings did not provide specific evidence of action by the Singapore government against them. 

Milking their father's legacy

The family dispute started with the house of their father, Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of modern Singapore who led the country with an iron grip for more than three decades.

Hsien Loong's siblings accuse him of wanting to "milk (their father) Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy for their own political purposes" and claimed that the preservation of their father's home against his dying wishes would enhance their brother's political capital. They also said that they believed the prime minister and his wife, Ho Ching, "harbor political ambitions for their son, Li Hongyi."

Singapore's "founding father" Lee Kuan Yew is largely credited with transforming the city-state from a relatively poor British colony into one of the   world's wealthiest and most stable societies.

His eldest son Hsien Loong became Singapore's third prime minister in 2004, taking over the People's Action Party (PAP) which has governed Singapore since it gained self-rule in 1959. 

A family affair gone public

The prime minister released a statement while on an overseas holiday denying the allegations and said he was very disappointed that they had publicized private family matters.

"I'm deeply saddened by the unfortunate allegations that they have made," he said. "While siblings may have differences, I believe that any such differences should stay in the family."

The prime minister said he and his wife "especially" denied the allegation that they had political ambitions for their son, saying it was "absurd."

The siblings' letter has gone viral on Singaporean social media and major Singaporean media reported prominently on the division, mostly leading with the prime minister's response to the siblings' accusations. There was no apparent reaction on Singapore's financial markets, with stocks down 0.2 percent and the Singapore dollar little changed.

aw/rc (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)

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