PM Lee’s siblings denounce their brother’s leadership: is it real? If so, what are its implications?

leesiblings

“We do not trust Hsien Loong as a brother or as a leader. We have lost confidence in him.”

At around 2 a.m. this morning, a statement titled ‘What Has Happened to Lee Kuan Yew’s Values?” was released on the Facebook pages of Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang, the two siblings of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

 

The full statement can be found here, and a summary has also been provided here.

In the statement, the writers expressed their disappointment in the Prime Minister’s conduct and leadership. Lee Hsien Yang allegedly wrote:

“Since the passing of Lee Kuan Yew… we have felt threatened by Hsien Loong’s misuse of his position and influence over the Singapore government to drive his personal agenda. We are concerned that the system has few checks and balances to prevent the abuse of government.”

The writers further noted that  “The values of Lee Kuan Yew are being eroded by his own son”, and that unlike PM Lee, the late Lee Kuan Yew placed his country and his people first, not his personal popularity or private agendas.

The writers brought up in particular, the dispute concerning the demolition of 38 Oxley Road – Lee Kuan Yew’s old house. They accused PM Lee of deliberately misrepresenting Lee Kuan Yew’s clear intentions for his own political benefit, in an attempt to frustrate the late Mr Lee’s wishes that the house be demolished. The writers further insinuated that PM Lee did so in order for “his family to inherit a tangible monument to Lee Kuan Yew’s authority”, and that “Hsien Loong threatened us and demanded our silence on our father’s last wish.”

How likely is it that the statement is authentic?

At the moment, we cannot safely assume that the statement was in fact written by the Lee siblings. It is a little odd, for example, that the Lee siblings would choose to express their views though a statement published on Facebook, instead of calling a press conference to read out their statement in person. It is also suspicious that the statement was released in the wee hours of the morning – the perfect time to engineer a hoax, since it would allow the statement to spread long before the Lee siblings can step forward to deny the statement is theirs. Indeed, without further confirmation from the Lee siblings themselves, we cannot be sure that the statement is authentic – since it is not difficult for a skilled hacker to hack Facebook accounts.

However, the following facts suggest a strong likelihood of the statement being real.

First, the statement was well-drafted, and properly proof-read, as seen from the lack of grammatical and spelling errors. The language is crisp and clear, and the statement contains literary references of a relatively obscure nature – e.g. Percy Shelley’s sonnet on aggrandizing monuments. Statements that are hoaxes are rarely of such high quality.

Second, the statement contained plenty of information that appears to be “personal”, including conversations between the siblings, as well as references to important figures such as Ho Ching, Li Hongyi (PM Lee’s son), and Lucien Wong, the Attorney-General. However, it is important to note that these pieces of information may very well be made up.

Finally, the fact that the statement was published on both Lee siblings’ Facebook accounts – this would have meant that the hacker would have had to hack in both accounts. This is possible, but less likely.

In any case, the Lee siblings must come forward to verify the authenticity of the statement before we can conclude that it is in fact real.

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UPDATE: Li Shengwu, Lee Hsien Yang’s son, has publicly acknowledged and affirmed his parents’ views. He said in a Facebook post:

“In the last few years, my immediate family has become increasingly worried about the lack of checks on abuse of power. The situation is now such that my parents have made plans to relocate to another country”

This makes it highly likely that the Lee siblings’ statement was authentic.

UPDATE: The Prime Minister has recognized the statement and issued a response, thereby confirming the authenticity of the Lee siblings’ statement.
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If the statement is authentic, what are its implications?

This statement will hurt PM Lee’s reputation more than it would hurt the People’s Action Party. What is most interesting is to see which PAP ministers who are in the running to succeed PM Lee will denounce the statement and give him their full support, and which ones would remain silent on the matter.

Indeed, it is hard to deny that this incident weakens PM Lee’s position as leader of the Party, and though this incident is not enough to compel PM Lee to take any drastic action – such as to resign, or call a leadership election – it certainly opens up an opportunity for those who have an eye on the leadership to take advantage of the situation to strengthen their position and consolidate power within the PAP Central Executive Committee (CEC), which is the committee that elects the Party’s leader.

See also: The Lee siblings’ statement: a genuine plea, or a knife in the back?

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Author: Rio Hoe

Rio is the chief editor and co-founder of Consensus SG. He is a recent law graduate from the University of Oxford. His interests include politics, legal theory and political philosophy.

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