In 2015, The Australian said that PM Lee Hsien Loong is shrewd like his father in dealing with geo-politics of the region. The question is, has he been shrewd about the recent spat with his siblings? Has he lost political ground or was there any loss to LKY’s legacy? Was his younger brother able to dethrone him?
“No such thing,” said an analyst who believes that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has achieved more in defending his grounds in the public feud than his siblings. Another political commentator, Krishnadas Devadas said that there were no disruptions to our daily lives because of this spat. It was a non-event.
The analyst said LHL has quelled the disapproval from his siblings by rallying his ministers to support him before the parliamentary debate and by making a ministerial statement in Parliament and defending it vigorously. His siblings have also agreed to a truce.
With the silencing of the siblings who wrangled against him on the fate of Lee Kuan Yew’s home at Oxley Road, he has also settled a few scores within the ruling party, the People’s Action Party (PAP).
In a manner of sorts, the Lee family is now divided into two distinct groups: the ones in power vs the ones who are fleeing the country.
When the siblings choose to leave, they are leaving the political apparatus in the hands of their brother who will remain as the Prime Minister for as long as he can, and he will probably steer the party safely into the right direction.
They are also leaving behind the lingering issues surrounding their father’s inheritance bequeathed to the family into the hands of LHL. And the fate of this thorny matter will, in the end, be decided by the elder son of LKY in the absence of his warring siblings.
Consequently, it is the political lineage that could have sustained LKY’s legacy in the corridors of power in Singapore that they are going to leave behind, and they may never get back into this game, ever.
Unless they kowtow to LHL’s decisions on Oxley Road and apologize publicly, they will not be able come back to the folds of power in perhaps the most influential family in Singapore.
LHL’s decision on the house was already made known – though unnoticed – in 2015 following LKY’s demise.
He said: “At that point, speaking as a son, I would like to see these wishes carried out. However, it will be up to the government of the day to consider the matter.”
One week is a long time in politics, they say. And after two years down the road, the government of the day, freshly minted after the elections where they garnered much sympathy votes, remains undecided.
Out of the blue, there is this public wrangling of the two siblings, implicating the PM’s wife Ho Ching and the PM in a Machiavellian plot to continue LKY’s political legacy at the helm of the PAP.
They said, “Loong” and “Ching” harboured political ambitions for their son.
Amid denials and what not, the expert said, we must understand one thing here: Why would the grandson of LKY, the son of the sitting PM, take a job in the public service in Singapore?
Li Hongyi, the son in question, is 30-year-old and is deputy director of the Government Digital Services Data Science Division of the Government Technology Agency of Singapore, a statutory board under the Prime Minister’s Office.
He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, worked at Google for two years from 2011 to 2013, before returning to serve a six-year bond, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The question is why did he not find a job elsewhere, in a global corporation let alone run a business in Singapore – which would have kept him a distance away from musings of the father who is his big boss at work?
LHL has a daughter Li Xiuqi and a son Li Yipeng from his first marriage.
He married Ho in 1985 and they have two sons, Li Hongyi and Li Haoyi.
He had previously said in interviews that his children are not keen on entering politics.
But it is not rare or surprising if in the future, a son or a daughter would want to test the political waters. And with his other siblings and nephews out of the way, the ground is fertile for LKY’s political dynasty to flourish!