Singapore—On the ongoing defamation suit Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong filed against Terry Xu, Editor in Chief of The Online Chronicles (TOC), former Straits Times journalist Bertha Henson said that since the siblings of PM Lee “are the source of all this,” they should be called to the witness stand.
The trial has been ongoing since Monday (Nov 30), with Ms Kwa Kim Li, the lawyer who prepared several of the late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s wills scheduled to appear at the High Court on Thursday (Dec 3).
Prof Henson, who now teaches journalism at the National University of Singapore, said in a Facebook post that she is “getting quite tired” of the case.
“The siblings should be called to the stand – they are the source of all this. TOC should have just got court to call them as witnesses even if not in third-party action,” she added.
PM Lee filed the suit last year after an article with the headline “PM Lee’s wife, Ho Ching, weirdly shares article on cutting ties with family members” was published on the TOC website and Facebook page on Aug 15, 2019.
The article mentioned the rift between PM Lee and his siblings Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the will of their father the late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, and the family property at 38 Oxley Road.
PM Lee took the witness stand on Monday morning (Nov 30).
During the course of his cross-examination, Mr Lim Tean, the lawyer of Mr Xu, asked PM Lee why he had not filed a lawsuit against his brother and sister for defamation.
While Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang are listed as third parties to the defamation case, they have not been called as witnesses. Mr Lim said at a pre-trial conference on Nov 2 that it was likely that his client would no longer pursue third-party proceedings.
PM Lee answered Mr Lim by saying that he has not brought his sister and brother to court for defamation but added that it doesn’t mean he will never do so.
He also said that he and his wife, Ms Ho Ching, hold no animosity towards his siblings, and that he hopes that matters between them will be repaired one day.
Prof Henson gave her opinion on this as well, writing that PM Lee “won’t sue siblings, because he is their brother. In matters like this which go into the public eye, you can’t be EITHER family member OR PM.
I honestly believe that PM should have set aside personal considerations right from the start. So his siblings get a free pass while others who take them at their word get it in the neck? Cannot be.”