Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been criticised for attempting to misuse the legacy of his long-serving late father – Lee Kuan Yew – in a strongly-worded statement penned by two of his younger siblings.
Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling wrote on Facebook in the early hours of Wednesday that they feared the apparatus of government may be used against them, to the extent that Wei Ling said she would leave the Southeast Asian city-state for the foreseeable future.
The Prime Minister denied the allegations on Wednesday morning, saying he was saddened, and that the statement had hurt Kuan Yew’s legacy.
‘Desire for power and personal popularity’
In their six-page statement, the siblings said that Hsien Loong has been misusing his influence in the Singaporean government and his legitimacy as the eldest son of Kuan Yew in order to advance his own agenda.
“We believe, unfortunately, that Hsien Loong is driven by a desire for power and personal popularity,” read the statement.
Kuan Yew served as Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 – before its independence – until 1990. He passed away in March 2015.
In particular, the siblings claimed that Hsien Loong had been acting against his father’s will in trying to preserve his personal home – 38 Oxley Road – as a monument, rather than demolishing it.
“Whilst our father built this nation upon meritocracy, Hsien Loong, whilst purporting to espouse these values, has spoken of a ‘natural aristocracy’,” read the statement. “The preservation of the house would enhance his political capital.”
While the siblings said they feared that the Prime Minister would “use the organs of the state” against them, they did not specify how he would do so.
“We are concerned that the system has few checks and balances to prevent the abuse of government… We question whether able leaders with independent political legitimacy will be side-lined to ensure Hsien Loong’s grip on power remains unchallenged.”
They added that the Prime Minister harbours political ambitions for his 30-year-old son, Li Hongyi, who currently works at the Info-communications Development Authority of Singapore.
In his response published on Facebook, Hsien Loong denied his siblings’ allegations, calling the claim that he has ambitions for his son “absurd”.
“While siblings may have differences, I believe that any such differences should stay in the family,” he said.
“Since my father’s passing in March 2015, as the eldest son I have tried my best to resolve the issues among us within the family, out of respect for our parents.”
The Prime Minister added that he would consider what to do after returning to Singapore this weekend, as he is currently overseas on leave.
It is not the first time the disputes between the siblings has been aired in public. On the first anniversary of their late father’s death, Singapore’s Channel NewsAsia reported Wei Ling had accused Hsien Loong of “abusing his power,” and that the government was trying to “hero worship” Kuan Yew.
Correction 17:20: A previous version of this article wrongly referred to Lee Wei Ling as Lee Wei Ching.