Singapore PM accused of lying in parliament by brother

The brother accused Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of falsely telling parliament that their late father had been open to reconsidering plans to demolish a family bungalow.

Published: 04th July 2017 04:39 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th July 2017 04:39 PM   |  A+A-

This file photo taken on October 10, 2016 shows Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivering a speech at the official opening of the inaugural Singapore International Cyber Week 2016 in Singapore. (File Photo | AFP)

By AFP

SINGAPORE: The brother of Singapore's prime minister Tuesday accused him of lying in parliament about the final wishes of their father, revered founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, the latest instalment of an explosive family feud.

Lee Hsien Yang accused Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 65, of falsely telling parliament Monday that their late father had been open to reconsidering plans to demolish a century-old family bungalow.

The unprecedented row has shocked a tightly-controlled nation unused to divisions among the elite. During a second day of debates in the legislature, the premier said the dispute was "not a soap opera" and called on Singaporeans not to be distracted by it.

The house is at the centre of a political drama that has simmered since the 2015 death of the elder Lee, and which has played out in public, with the premier and his siblings exchanging barbs on social media.

The patriarch had wanted the bungalow destroyed after he passed away to prevent the creation of a personality cult.

But the prime minister's siblings say their brother is attempting to block the house's demolition to capitalise on their father's legacy for his own political agenda, including grooming his own son as a future leader.

"(Lee Hsien Loong) has made convoluted, but ultimately false, claims about Lee Kuan Yew's wishes," Hsien Yang, a former brigadier general in the armed forces who now heads the city-state's civil aviation authority, said in a Facebook post Tuesday, which was shared by his sister Wei Ling, 62, a top neurologist. 

The dispute burst into the open last month when the PM's brother and sister launched attacks on Facebook, which quickly went viral.

In Monday's speech, the prime minister said that despite a "demolition clause" governing the house in his final will, his father was "prepared to consider alternatives", and had even approved renovation plans should the government decide against tearing down the building.

However Hsien Yang, 60, said that his father had been misled by the prime minister into agreeing to the renovation, with the elder Lee made to believe the house had been listed as a national monument so could not be torn down -- a claim of which the founding leader's lawyer had found no evidence.

The premier told parliament, which is dominated by his ruling People's Action Party, that "I did not deceive my father" but he and his siblings disagreed on whether the elder Lee was ready to consider alternatives for the house.

Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s authoritarian first prime minister, ruled Singapore from 1959 to 1990. Many credit the family patriarch with turning Singapore from a poor former British colony into one of the world’s wealthiest and most stable societies.

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