Singapore—After being found guilty of contempt of court on Wednesday, July 29, Li Shengwu, the nephew of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took to Facebook to air his views. He posted a photo of the first page of the memoir of his grandfather, Lee Kuan Yew, which was inscribed with “Love, Yeye,” which is grandfather in Chinese.
Mr Li called it a gift from “better times, before my uncle bullied his siblings and tore the family apart.”
In his verdict in Mr Li’s case, Justice Kannan Ramesh wrote that Mr Li has two weeks to pay a fine of S$15,000, otherwise, he will have to serve one week in jail. Mr Li was ordered by the Judge to pay S$8,500 for the costs of proceedings, as well as S$8,070 for filing fees, photocopying charges, service of documents on Mr Li in the United States, where he is based, and database fees.
Mr Li, the son of Lee Hsien Yang, teaches economics at Harvard University and was not present at the reading of the verdict. In January of this year, Mr Li wrote that he was “declining to engage further in these court proceedings” in the case against him.
He wrote on Wednesday morning in his Facebook post that he disagreed with the verdict and worried “that it will reinforce the PAP’s tendency to suppress ordinary political speech.”
The Harvard professor added, “In response to three words in a private Facebook post, the government has wasted three years of civil servants’ time.
In a kind of cruel irony, the AGC has spent long hours lecturing me about my grandfather’s values. The AGC is supposed to be an apolitical agency, even though the current attorney general was my uncle’s personal lawyer.”
He wrote at the end of his post that he had seen a gift from his childhood while arranging his bookshelf recently, the memoir of Lee Kuan Yew, “From Third World to First The Singapore Story: 1965–2000.”
The infighting within the Lee family has been in the news for the past few years, pitting the Prime Minister against his younger siblings Dr Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang, the father of Li Shenwu.
The younger Lee siblings accused the Prime Minister of wanting to keep the family home in 38 Oxley Road so that he could start a political dynasty, with his son Li Hongyi as his heir apparent, an accusation which PM Lee called “entirely baseless” in a special parliamentary session in 2017.
However, the fight between the siblings does not end there. The wife of Lee Hsien Yang, Lee Suet Fern faces a disciplinary tribunal called for by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) for her alleged role in helping prepare the will of her father-in-law. In April 2019, Lee Hsien Yang announced on Facebook that the AGC had filed “over 500 pages of complaint” against her.
As for their son, Li Shengwu, he was charged with contempt of court for a Facebook post, set to private, wherein he said that “the Singapore Government is very litigious and has a pliant court system.” His post was put up in July 2017, and by August 4, the Attorney-General’s Chambers filed an application in the High Court to start committal proceedings against him for contempt of court.
The post had been set to a “friends only” setting, and included a link to an article from the New York Times from 2010 entitled “Censored in Singapore.”
Mr Li wrote on his post, “Keep in mind, of course, that the Singapore government is very litigious and has a pliant court system. This constrains what the international media can usually report.” —TISG