The Singapore Prime Minister’s brother says the government is persecuting his family
BANGKOK — The brother of Singapore’s prime minister accused government authorities of persecuting his family on Friday after it emerged that he and his wife were under official investigation.
Lee Hsien Yang has long been at loggerheads with his brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, over the will of their late father – the will of old Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who ushered in Singapore’s independence from Britain.
The family feud largely subsided until National Security Minister and Coordinating Minister Teo Chee Hean told lawmakers that Lee Hsien Yang and his wife Lee Suet Fern were under investigation.
In a written response to parliament released on Thursday, he said the investigation was accused of presenting false evidence in court proceedings related to the will.
They are accused of lying under oath by the three-judge panel and the disciplinary court, wrote Teo Chee Hean.
He told parliament the pair had agreed to be interviewed by police but later refused, which he said was “disappointing”.
“The police advised them to reconsider participating in the investigation, but they have since left Singapore and remained out of the country,” he wrote, according to a copy of his office’s response to parliament.
Contacted by The Associated Press on Friday, Lee Hsien Yang dismissed the accusations as “another attempt to discredit and attack me” but said it was “unsafe for me to return” to Singapore.
Lee Hsien Yang said in a Facebook post that he and his sister Lee Wei Ling, who joined him in challenging the execution of the will, had long said they were “fearful of the state organs being used against us and against my family. “
“The persecution of my family by the Singaporean authorities continues unabated,” he wrote.
The Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately respond to the comment, but previously called his brothers’ accusations that he abused government power against them “completely unfounded”.
Their father, Lee Kuan Yew, ruled Singapore with an iron fist for more than three decades and is credited with turning the resource-poor island into a wealthy, bustling financial center with low crime and near-zero corruption.
Following his death in 2015, the brothers clashed over a clause in his will that said a family bungalow should be demolished rather than turned into a tourist attraction.
Lee Hsien Yang and his sister accused their brother, the prime minister, of keeping the house instead to “increase his political capital” as a “visible symbol” of their father.
The prime minister rejected the allegations and said he had withdrawn from the government’s decision-making process on the fate of the house.
But Lee Hsien Yang told the AP that their father’s will left no doubt and he “did not want to create a shrine for himself.”
“It is clear that my father wanted to demolish the house and he made that clear in his lifetime; it was clear in his will,” he said, adding that when the will was probated in 2015, he had time to deal with it.
Lee Hsien Yang’s son Shengwu Li tweeted that returning his parents to Singapore for questioning could put them in danger.
“In Singapore, authorities can detain people indefinitely, in inhumane conditions, without timely access to a lawyer,” wrote Li, an assistant professor of economics at Harvard.
“When a hostile authoritarian government says they ‘want to question you,’ it’s clear what that means.”