SINGAPORE: Lee Hsien Yang has confirmed rumours that he will consider running for President, in a phone interview with Bloomberg. The report, which was published on Friday (3 Mar), quoted Mr Lee as saying:
“There is a view that depending on who they (referring to the People’s Action Party) float, if I were to run they would be in serious trouble and could lose. A lot of people have come to me. They really want me to run. It’s something I would consider.”
The next presidential election is set to take place this year. While the President is largely a ceremonial figurehead, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has historically been very concerned as to who will occupy the President’s seat and the executive powers the President holds, though limited, are very important to the party.
Former President Ong Teng Cheong alleged in an Asiaweek interview in 2000 that he was stonewalled when he tried to get information about the national reserves.
Citing this encounter, an Asia Sentinel source said last year that Lee Hsien Yang’s estranged elder brother and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was “hugely upset by Ong Teng Cheong asking questions on the reserves.”
The source added, “It must be Lee Hsien Loong’s nightmare if Hsien Yang were to be in a position to do the same. Hsien Yang has the profile and independent-mindedness that would make him a very persuasive candidate to the population who wants a check and balance on the PAP.”
The younger Mr Lee declined to comment when asked last November whether he would contest the presidential race. The interview with Bloomberg is the first time he has expressly indicated interest in the President’s seat.
His decision to open up on the topic is likely due to the Singapore authorities’ latest action involving him and his family. Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean revealed this week that the police are investigating Mr Lee and his wife, Lee Suet Fern, for allegedly lying in judicial proceedings about his father’s last will.
The PAP politician’s revelation has prompted Lee Hsien Yang to protest the continued “persecution” against his family by the Singapore authorities. He added that he is the “real target” behind the authorities’ actions against his wife and his son, which began after his dispute with his elder brother became public in 2017.
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