The last week of the 2020 General Election campaign period shed light on just how much prominent establishment figure Bilahari Kausikan dislikes founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s youngest son, Lee Hsien Yang.
Mr Lee joined the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) ahead of the latest general election, which came about three years after a fierce dispute with his elder brother, current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, over their late father’s last will became public.
While he decided against contesting the election since he does not believe that Singapore needs another Lee in power, Mr Lee actively lent his weight to the PSP on the campaign trail and urged Singaporeans to vote “fearlessly” for the opposition. His remarks stirred the wrath of former Ambassador-at-Large Bilahari Kausikan who lashed out at Mr Lee on social media.
In a Facebook post published on Cooling Off Day, Mr Bilahari claimed that Mr Lee was attacking the system even though he benefited from it because he was “prevented from monetising” his family home by his elder brother.
Calling Mr Lee a hypocrite for joining a political party while maintaining that Singapore does not need another Lee in power, the retired diplomat said that Mr Lee was “trying to cause trouble without responsibility” and that this was “cowardly”. He wrote:
“I have two comments/ questions: first, you are a beneficiary of the ‘privilege’ you now eloquently attack. Why? Because you were prevented from monetising the property your brother sold you?
“Second, if you are really so upset, why faff around the margins, trying to cause trouble without responsibility? Your excuse for not standing for election, that there need not be another Lee in politics is hollow: what are you doing if it is not politics? Cowardly!”
Mr Bilahari made his distaste for Mr Lee more apparent in the comments section of his post. In response to one comment, he called Mr Lee an unfilial son and expressed his belief that he would have “lost big time” had he stood as a candidate in the latest election.
Replying to another comment, Mr Bilahari said that he sometimes “feel[s] like weeping” when he thinks of how the Lee family name has been marred by the siblings’ feud. He also agreed with a comment that Mr Lee is out to “destroy his father’s legacy” out of petty revenge:
Mr Bilahari also seconded a comment that the PSP might have perhaps lost some support with the involvement of Mr Lee. In response to a comment that the dispute is not about monetising 38 Oxley Road, Mr Bilahari asserted: “Its about money masquerading as principle.”
While it is clear that Mr Bilahari has a harsh view of Mr Lee, not all establishment figures share his view. Distinguish diplomat Tommy Koh, who is well-respected by people from all political persuasions in Singapore, directly asked Mr Bilahari why he has “such venom” towards Mr Lee.