Asia

Singapore PM Lee 'prefers not to sue siblings' over feud

This handout photo released by the Ministry of Information and Communication (MCI) on 3 July 2017 shows Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking at parliament house in Singapore Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Mr Lee made a special speech in parliament on Monday addressing the accusations

Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong says he would prefer not to sue his siblings over claims he abused his power, despite calls to settle a family feud.

Mr Lee spoke in parliament following weeks of a fierce public dispute between him and his brother and sister.

The prime minister's siblings have accused him of misusing his influence in a dispute over their father's house.

Mr Lee has repeatedly denied the allegations, most recently in Monday's parliamentary sitting.

Mr Lee and his father, the late leader Lee Kuan Yew, were known for suing critics and opponents for defamation.

He acknowledged that many had asked why he had not taken legal action, and admitted that in "any other imaginable circumstance but this, I would surely sue".

"But suing my own brother and sister in court would further besmirch my parents' names," he said, adding that the lawsuit would cause "more distraction and distress" to the public.

"Therefore, fighting this out in court cannot be my preferred choice."

But de-facto opposition leader Low Thia Khiang said not taking the matter to court gave the impression the government "was afraid of what the Lee siblings will say or reveal".


Mesmerised, but now fatigued - Tessa Wong, BBC News, Singapore

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The feud centres on the house, 38 Oxley Road, which belonged to late leader Lee Kuan Yew

The row is a rare public spectacle of acrimony within Singapore's tightly disciplined First Family.

For the last three weeks, Mr Lee's siblings Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling have lobbed accusations at him on Facebook.

At first Singaporeans were mesmerised but now the saga is tiring them out. Many are confused about the case, and wondering why Mr Lee and his siblings have not resolved the matter through legal action or otherwise.

Singapore is used to swift resolution of public conflicts, and if this does not end soon, questions may be raised about Mr Lee's handling of the feud.


The dispute centres on whether the late Lee Kuan Yew truly wanted his house, known as 38 Oxley Road, to be demolished.

The prime minister's siblings have accused him of wanting to preserve it for his own personal political gain.

In parliament, Mr Lee flatly denied this suggestion. "Regarding the house, and how its continued existence enhances my aura as PM, if I needed such magic properties to bolster my authority even after being your PM for 13 years, I must be in a pretty sad state," he said.

He also denied charges of nepotism involving one of his sons and his wife, and that he had interfered in government decisions on the house.

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