SINGAPORE • A family feud involving the children of late Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew burst back into public view yesterday as one of his sons said he now felt “compelled” to leave the country.
Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong’s two younger siblings posted a joint six-page statement on Facebook saying they had “lost confidence” in him and no longer trusted him.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I will leave Singapore for the fore- seeable future,” Lee Hsien Yang wrote in the statement issued with his sister Lee Wei Ling. “I have no desire to leave. Hsien Loong is the only reason for my departure.”
The PM issued a statement denying allegations made by his siblings and said he regretted their public comments, which escalate a dispute that has simmered over the estate of their father since his March 2015 death.
“I am very disappointed that my siblings have chosen to issue a statement publicising private family matters,” PM Lee said in an emailed statement yesterday. “While siblings may have differences, I believe that any such differences should stay in the family.”
The tensions have largely stayed removed from domestic politics and the ruling People’s Action Party led by Lee has a strong grip on power.
Lee Hsien Yang, who’s chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and special advisor to private-equity firm General Atlantic LLC, and Lee Wei Ling said in the statement they were “disturbed by the character” and “personal agenda” of their brother, but added their remarks were “by no means a criticism of the government”.
Lee Hsien Yang, 59, separately said in an interview yesterday that he had no political agenda in releasing the statement with his sister, neither did he have any desire to join politics.
“The statement was written with 100% care and is defensible,” he said. “Our goal is limited: We just want the truth to be known.”
The younger Lee said he’s weighing various locations for his move. “If he’s no longer in a position of power, I would reconsider my position,” he said of his brother.
PM Lee, 65, has said he doesn’t want to stay in office beyond the age of 70 and has been grooming a group of younger ministers.
Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling’s statement has hurt their father’s legacy, the PM said. He denied an “absurd claim” he harboured political ambitions for his son.
Lee, who became Singapore’s third PM in 2004, said he would consider the issue further after he returns from an overseas trip with his family later this month. — Bloomberg
PIC: p20 Lee Hsien Loong – Bloomberg
PM Lee, 65, has said he doesn’t want to stay in office beyond the age of 70