SINGAPORE: Former Straits Times editor Gan Swee Leong has opined that public opinion may now lie with Lee Hsien Yang, in the latter’s ongoing public spat with his estranged older brother and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Yang.
The brothers’ dispute first spilled into the public domain in 2017, two years after their famous father, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, died. The rift within the family widened when the authorities took action against Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s wife and son, who were suspended from legal practice and found guilty of contempt of court, respectively.
Last week, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean announced that the police are investigating the younger Mr Lee and his wife for allegedly lying about Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s last will. The PM’s brother dubbed the latest action continued “persecution” as the press reported that he and his wife have temporarily moved to Europe amid the police probe.
In a Facebook post published late last night, Mr Lee Hsien Yang expressed heartbreak at being “made a fugitive by my own country” just for standing up for his late father’s last wishes. Asserting that he has lost much by trying to honour his father’s dying wish and speaking up for it, he added that his family has paid the price for his convictions.
Mr Lee also said that he is heartbroken that he cannot be with his “extremely unwell” sister Lee Wei Ling, who revealed in 2020 that she is battling progressive supranuclear palsy. Revealing that it was Ms Lee who convinced him to stand up against their elder brother, he wrote:
“Wei Ling never married and, because we are close, it fell on my shoulders to look after her after our father passed away in 2015. In 2019, she was diagnosed with a serious illness. I was so glad that just before Covid in 2020, I was able to take her to Machu Picchu, a place she had always wanted to visit.”
Revealing that he may never return to Singapore, he said: “She is now extremely unwell. It pains me beyond words that I am unlikely ever to be able to see my sister face to face again.”
The post has won public opinion to his side, according to one socio-political commentator. Former Straits Times editor Gan Swee Leong added that he feels that Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s family has “suffered much,” in the wake of the public figure’s latest Facebook post.
Noting that questions about whether Mr Lee really did lie and whether the police probe is based on facts or interpretations remain, Mr Gan asked in a Facebook comment today (8 Mar) whether the authorities will fine or jail Mr Lee if he is found guilty in the investigation.
Noting that Mr Lee may end up scoring political mileage if this does happen, he opined: “The discourse has now slanted, in public opinion, in LHY’s favour.”
He added: “Both sides need not go through a legal process in Singapore but fight it in the court of public opinion. Let the people be the judge, not the judges.”
Asserting that the verdict is still unclear and that the “only clear victim of it all is Singapore’s reputation,” Mr Gan urged that Singapore should not let a family feud become a polarizing tool to divide the people, although he noted that the process has already started.
When one netizen said that Mr Lee and his wife should return to Singapore to clear their names if they are really innocent, Mr Gan said: “Rationally, I agree with you but emotionally I really think they have suffered much.”
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