SINGAPORE: Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s only daughter, Dr Lee Wei Ling, turned 69 years old on Sunday (7 Jan), and her younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang, commemorated her birthday by sharing a throwback photo of them both on social media.
Near midnight on Sunday, Mr Lee Hsien Yang shared a black-and-white photo showing him and his sister smiling beside a cannon. In the post, which received more than a thousand likes in less than an hour, he wrote, “Today is Wei Ling’s birthday. She was born in 1955.”
Their elder brother, current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, made no mention of Dr Lee or her birthday on social media.
The younger Lee siblings have been estranged from PM Lee since at least 2017, about two years after their father passed.
Although their differences initially stemmed from disagreements about their late father’s will, the rift between them has only grown wider over the years – especially after Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s wife and son became entangled in legal issues after the family feud spilled into the public domain.
Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife are presently living overseas amid the latest inquiry into them by the Singapore authorities.
The younger Mr Lee has expressed deep distress over not being able to be with his sister, who has been diagnosed with a rare brain disorder with no cure and is extremely unwell.
Her younger brother, his wife and their children are Dr Lee Wei Ling’s closest relatives after the passing of their parents. She never married and chose to stay single.
In 2009, Dr Lee explained why she chose not to get married in an article published by the national broadsheet. Dr Lee described the loving relationship her parents shared:
“If my parents have such a loving relationship, why then did I decide to remain single? Firstly, my mother set the bar too high for me. I could not envisage being the kind of wife and mother she had been.
Secondly, I am temperamentally similar to my father. Indeed, he once said to me: ‘You have all my traits – but to such an exaggerated degree that they become a disadvantage in you.’”
She asserted: “I knew I could not live my life around a husband, nor would I want a husband to live his life around me. Of course, there are any number of variations in marital relationships between those extremes.
But there is always a need for spouses to change their behaviour or habits to suit each other. I have always been set in my ways and did not fancy changing my behaviour or lifestyle.”
Declaring that she does not regret her choice not to get married and that she is happily single, Dr Lee revealed:
“More than 10 years ago, when there was still a slim chance I might have got married, my father told me: ‘Your mother and I could be selfish and feel happy that you remain single and can look after us in our old age. But you will be lonely.’”
She said, “I was not convinced. Better one person feeling lonely than two people miserable because they cannot adapt to each other, I figured. I do not regret my choice. But I want to end with a warning to young men and women: What works for me may not work for others.”