Referring to parts of PM Lee’s statement to the media yesterday, his younger brother Lee Hsien Yang said that it is a “lie”. In a note he released to the media, PM Lee Hsien Loong said: “my siblings had not responded to the Committee’s questions about how the last will was prepared and ‘the role that Mrs Lee Suet Fern and lawyers from her legal firm played in preparing the Last Will’.”
The younger Lee claimed that this is a “lie” because they replied to the Committee on 28 February, but that the “secret committee” ignored it. They had replied to the Committee saying: “The Final Will was not drafted by Stamford Law Corporation or Mr. Ng Joo Khin and LHL’s claimed recollection to that effect is clearly erroneous.”
In referring to PM Lee’s first response to his siblings’ allegations, Mr Yang asked, “we thought this was a “private family matter?””.
PM Lee also said in his first response that he will consider the matter further after he returns to Singapore this weekend. It is unclear if he would sue his siblings for defaming him.
This is not the first time PM Lee’s siblings challenged him. In April last year, Dr Lee Wei Ling called her elder brother a “dishonorable son” and alleged that he abused his power. PM Lee dismissed her allegations as being “completely untrue”, but he did not sue for defamation.
In 1999, Asiaweek in publishing an interview with Singapore’s former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, quoted him saying why it was important for Cabinet Ministers to sue those that defamed them, and that those that don’t sue must leave the Cabinet.
“Political opponents, so long as they keep within the law, don’t need safeguards. They do not have to appear before the judiciary. But if they’ve defamed us, we have to sue them — because if we don’t, our own integrity will be suspect. We have an understanding that if a minister is defamed and he does not sue, he must leave cabinet. By defamation, I mean if somebody says the minister is on the take or is less than honest. If he does not rebut it, if he does not dare go before the court to be interrogated by the counsel for the other side, there must be some truth in it. If there is no evidence, well, why are you not suing?” (Source: Asiaweek)
It is unclear if the “understanding” among the Cabinet Ministers of Mr Goh’s era still stands in PM Lee’s. But in 2014, PM Lee sued blogger Roy Ngerng for making “false and baseless allegation” which constituted a very serious libel against him, disparaged him and impugned his character, credit and integrity.