Singapore and the Lees fighting over political system: WSJ

Will squabbling in the ruling family lead to more political debate?

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An opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal said the fight between the Lee’s in Singapore is about the tiny Island state’s political system.

It said the younger Lees accused the Prime Minister of abusing his power.

“[W]e have felt threatened by Hsien Loong’s misuse of his position and influence over the Singapore government and its agencies to drive his agenda.

“We are concerned that the system has few checks and balances to prevent the abuse of government.” Lee Hsien Yang, the former CEO of Singapore’s largest listed company, said he will leave Singapore because he fears retaliation.

The opinion piece also said after Singapore’s founder, Lee Kuan Yew, died in March 2015, some expected his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, to face a challenge from leading figures in the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).

Instead the revolt has come from within his family.

The feud is ostensibly about Lee Kuan Yew’s house, which according to his will should be demolished.

Most shocking, the two younger Lees accuse their brother and his wife, Ho Ching, of nepotism.

“His political power is drawn from his being Lee Kuan Yew’s son. We have observed that Hsien Loong and Ho Ching want to milk Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy for their own political purposes. We also believe, based on our interactions, that they harbour political ambitions for their son, Li Hongyi. ”

The Prime Minister responded, “Ho Ching and I deny these allegations, especially the absurd claim that I have political ambitions for my son.”

Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew prided itself on clean government and meritocracy, but another part of his legacy was the suppression of criticism.

When publications and opposition politicians expressed concerns similar to those now being raised, the government found ways to silence them.

The government also used the Internal Security Act to detain those it deemed subversive without trial.

Lee Kuan Yew held Singapore’s elite together through a web of personal connections and prestige, and the PAP’s rule has never been seriously challenged, said the opinion piece.

“The squabbling among his children reveals cracks in this consensus, and the big question is whether this will result in serious political opposition.

“Singapore is a wealthy and stable society that could benefit from more robust democratic debate.”

Appeared in the June 23, 2017, print edition of the Wall Street Journal

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13 comments

  1. Sunset Reflections
    The Bible is a historical records of the good, the bad, the ugly, the rich and powerful, then about the poor and oppressed ones! It recorded the rise and fall of the dynasty!
    In the book of Genesis chapter 25, we learn the truth of Esau selling his birthright to his brother
    History always repeat! In our Chinese cultures, the eldest son inherited the double blessings as the son of the eldest son is recognized as the youngest son!
    Lee Yi Peng is also considered as youngest son of LKY!
    LKY as the eldest son inherited the house from his daddy but he did not sell the house and pass the baton to his eldest son!
    Sadly, the eldest son despise his birthright to be entitled to their ancestors house, and sold to his brother !
    He has made a very bad choice of decision, especially not honouring his daddy’s gift !
    Certainly, LKY knew beforehand that his ancestors house is earmarked as national heritage therefore he gave to the eldest son to handle it with wisdom!
    Sadly, the son inherited his pride but not his wisdom and knowledge!
    Like Esau in Genesis chapter 25, he sold his birthright to his younger brother !
    I regard this unfortunate siblings rivalry as divine intervention from our creator !
    The 3 musketeers are in their sunset journey on planet earth as the sojourners !
    Why fight so fiercely and if Yang cannot get the house to be demolished as it is gazetted as national heritage, then just accept the compensation market value!

  2. LKY our founding father and great man of Singapore , his last wish is to demolish his house upon his death, Why can’t grant his last wish just demolish it and end of story. Respect Mr LKY that is what all Singaporean wants to support his last wish. RIP

  3. Mr Lee K Y should demolish the house n shift out to other place to stay after his beloved wife had passed away. It seem like his heart was overcome by his head. A big mistake is his life.

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