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“Better times before my uncle bullied his siblings and tore the family apart”

Li Shengwu posts on family rift and judgement after being fined S$15,000, or a week's jail in default, for contempt of court




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Singapore — Li Shengwu has, in a Facebook post on Wednesday (July 29), said his uncle, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, had “bullied his siblings and torn the family apart”.

Tensions in the Lee family are believed to have erupted some time after patriarch Lee Kuan Yew passed away in 2015.

Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang accused PM Lee of abusing his power to preserve their family home, against their father’s willed desire to demolish it. They also accused him of using state organs against them and of grooming his son, Mr Li Hongyi, for politics.

PM Lee denied in Parliament the charges levelled at him by his siblings. He added that he did not plan to sue them for their comments as that could “besmirch” their parents’ names. His siblings subsequently offered a ceasefire provided that neither they nor their father would be misrepresented.

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The rift, however, did not heal. The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) subsequently initiated legal action against Li Shengwu over a private Facebook post and lodged a complaint against his mother, Lee Suet Fern, to the Law Society.

While Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang have maintained that they have lost faith in their brother, PM Lee has expressed hope that relations would improve.

In October 2017, PM Lee told CNBC that he was “not sure” if the dispute was solved. Sharing that he had not communicated with his siblings, PM Lee said he was saddened by the state of affairs in his family and added: “Perhaps one day, when emotions have subsided, some movement will be possible.”

Taking issue with his brother’s words, Mr Lee Hsien Yang said: “Our brother says he is unsure that the feud is solved. Notwithstanding his public statements, Hsien Loong has made no attempt to reach out to us to resolve matters in private.”

The younger siblings added that their elder brother has not invited them to his Chinese New Year reunion dinners in the years following  the dispute. Meanwhile, the once close relationship between Li Shengwu and cousin Li Hongyi also disintegrated.

In his Facebook post on Wednesday (July 29), Li Shengwu blamed  PM Lee for the rift in the family. Sharing a photo of his grandfather’s memoir, he wrote: “As I was arranging my bookshelf the other day, I came across a gift from my childhood. Those were better times, before my uncle bullied his siblings and tore the family apart.”

Li’s post came hours after High Court Judge Kannan Ramesh sentenced him to a S$15,000 fine, or a week’s jail in default, over the contempt of court case that the AGC had initiated against him. In the same Facebook post, the US-based Li, 35, said he disagreed with the judgment and that he felt the case was a waste of resources.

He wrote: “Apparently the court has rendered judgement on my case today, and fined me $15,000 for a comment made to my friends on Facebook. I disagree with the judgement, and worry that it will reinforce the PAP’s tendency to suppress ordinary political speech. In response to three words in a private Facebook post, the government has wasted three years of civil servants’ time.”

Mr Lee Hsien Yang shared his son’s post on his own Facebook page.

Posted by Lee Hsien Yang on Tuesday, 28 July 2020

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