‘Singapore’s first family should quit politics’


SINGAPORE: The Lee family which has dominated Singapore since its founding should quit politics after the current generation, the prime minister’s brother said today as a bitter feud rages over their father’s legacy.

The tightly ruled nation has been rocked by allegations from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s siblings that he is exploiting the memory of their father – founding leader Lee Kuan Yew – for his own political agenda.

Lee Hsien Yang and his sister, Wei Ling, released a strongly worded six-page statement yesterday, accusing their brother of abusing his powers and saying they had lost confidence in his leadership.

“The country must be bigger than one family,” Hsien Yang told AFP in an email.

The quarrel exposed the issue of succession when the estranged siblings claimed that Lee and his influential wife, Ho Ching, harboured political ambitions for their son, Li Hongyi.

Lee Hsien Yang, who went into the business world rather than government, said his own son – a Harvard academic – had no interest in entering government.

“He believes it would be bad for Singapore if any third-generation Lee went into politics,” he said. “My elder son and my views on politics are entirely aligned.”

Prime Minister Lee had denied the allegations and expressed sadness that the feud has erupted into public view.

He described the claim about his son as “absurd” and Li Hongyi said in a Facebook post Thursday: “For what it is worth, I really have no interest in politics.”

Singapore has been ruled continuously by only one party – the People’s Action Party – since 1959 when the island gained self-rule from Britain.

Since independence in 1965, the city-state has known only three prime ministers, two of them from the Lee family.

The siblings’ grievances centre on the future of their family home.

Lee Kuan Yew wanted the house demolished to avoid it becoming a monument, a decision Hsien Yang and and Wei Ling supported. The siblings accuse the prime minister of defying their father’s instructions.

The allegations against Lee immediately went viral in a country where tough laws against protests and curbs on press freedom have stifled political dissent.