SINGAPORE: Lee Hsien Yang said yesterday evening (10 July) that his family wishes they could have said goodbye to his father-in-law, eminent economist Lim Chong Yah, before he passed away on Saturday (8 July).
Mr Lee is the youngest son of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and the younger brother of current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. He has left Singapore and lives in an undisclosed location in Europe with his wife, senior lawyer Lee Suet Fern, while his longstanding feud with his estranged older brother rages on.
The brothers’ dispute first spilled into the public domain in 2017, two years after their famous father, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, died. The rift within the family widened when the authorities took action against Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s wife and son, who were suspended from legal practice and found guilty of contempt of court, respectively.
In March, Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean announced that the police are investigating the younger Mr Lee and his wife for allegedly lying about Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s last will. The PM’s brother has claimed that he is the real target behind the continued “persecution” of his family.
Mr Lee Hsien Yang has previously expressed heartbreak at being “made a fugitive by my own country” just for standing up for his late father’s last wishes. Asserting that he has lost much by trying to honour his father’s dying wish and speaking up for it, he added that his family had paid the price for his convictions.
Indicating that the latest price the family has paid is their inability to be with Ms Lee Suet Fern’s father in his final moments, Mr Lee wrote on Facebook: “My family and I love him and miss him dearly. My wife, I and Shengwu wish we were there to say goodbye.”
He also shared a photo of Prof Lim walking his wife down the aisle at their wedding and a photo of the large floral arrangement his family had sent in honour of their beloved father and grandfather. The card attached to the floral arrangement said, “For Dad and Kung Kung, with our abiding love. We are heartbroken. – Fern, Yang, Shengwu, Huanwu, Shaowu.”
The family’s self-imposed exile has weighed heavily on them. Mr Lee had said earlier that he is heartbroken that he cannot be with his “extremely unwell” sister Lee Wei Ling, who revealed in 2020 that she is battling progressive supranuclear palsy.
Revealing that his sister convinced him to stand up against their elder brother, Mr Lee said in March: “Wei Ling never married and, because we are close, it fell on my shoulders to look after her after our father passed away in 2015. In 2019, she was diagnosed with a serious illness. I was so glad that just before Covid in 2020, I was able to take her to Machu Picchu, a place she had always wanted to visit.”
Revealing also that he may never return to Singapore, he said: “She is now extremely unwell. It pains me beyond words that I am unlikely ever to be able to see my sister face to face again.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sent a letter of condolence to Prof Lim’s wife, Madam See Nah Nah. Sharing his memories with Prof Lim, his economics tutor when he studied for his A levels in 1970, PM Lee said that Prof Lim would be deeply missed.
Paying tribute to the many radical contributions Prof Lim had made to Singapore’s economic progress, PM Lee wrote: “I hope you will find comfort in knowing that his memory and legacy will live on through his many lasting contributions to Singapore and their impact on generations of Singaporeans.”
There was no mention of the familial connection that PM Lee shares with the late wage policy pioneer. There was no mention of Prof Lim’s daughter, son-in-law or grandsons – or his sister-in-law, brother or nephews.
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