Singapore — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s nephew Li Shengwu has called on him to resign now as Prime Minister, in the latest turn of the Lee family feud.
Mr Li Shengwu made the call on Friday (Nov 20), the same day his mother, Mrs Lee Suet Fern, was suspended by a Court of Three Judges from practising law for 15 months for her role in the preparation of the last will of patriarch and founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
A deep rift in the Lee family occurred some time after Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away in 2015. In 2017, his younger children, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, publicly accused PM Lee — their elder brother — of using state organs against them and of abusing his power to preserve their family home against their father’s willed desire to demolish it.
Alleging that PM Lee was trying to subvert their position as executors of their father’s will in order to bolster his grip on power, his siblings also claimed that he was grooming his son, Mr Li Hongyi, for politics.
PM Lee cleared himself in Parliament of the charges that his siblings levelled against him and said that he was not suing them for defamation so as not to “besmirch” their parents’ name.
The younger siblings subsequently offered a ceasefire but their relationship with PM Lee worsened when the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) acted against Mr Lee Hsien Yang’s family members.
His eldest son, Mr Li Shengwu, was found guilty in a contempt of court case brought on by the AGC over a private Facebook post he had made in 2017. He was fined S$15,000 after being convicted by the High Court.
The AGC also filed a complaint against Mrs Lee to the Law Society over her role in preparing Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s will. The Law Society subsequently sought to have her struck off the rolls.
On Friday (Nov 20), the Court of Three Judges found Mrs Lee guilty of misconduct unbefitting an advocate and solicitor. Ruling that she had “blindly followed the directions of her husband, a significant beneficiary under the very will whose execution she helped to rush through”, the court suspended her from practising law for 15 months.
In a Facebook post published the same day, Mr Li Shengwu made reference to the case against his mother and claimed that PM Lee was using state resources to settle personal grudges. He wrote:
“Lee Hsien Loong has no shame about using state resources to settle grudges against relatives. He should resign now, rather than continuing to undermine the rule of law in Singapore.”
Two minutes later, Mr Li Shengwu shared a Facebook post published by his father which went up a minute after his initial statement.
In his post, Mr Lee Hsien Yang vouched for his wife’s reputation as a highly regarded international corporate lawyer who had won awards for her professional work. He also shared a statement by Mrs Lee on the matter. She said that she disagreed with the decision and that there was “no basis for this case to have even been initiated”. Pointing out that even the Court of Three Judges found that her father-in-law was content with this will, Mrs Lee said:
“No complaint had ever been lodged by my father-in-law, Lee Kuan Yew, nor by any of his beneficiaries or his personal lawyer for his various wills, Kwa Kim Li. This case arose from a complaint years later by the Attorney-General’s Chambers. Lee Hsien Loong made extensive submissions, but did not present himself as a witness and was not subject to cross-examination.”
“The Court of Three found ‘no solicitor-client relationship existed’ between Lee Kuan Yew and myself. The Court found there was no dishonesty in my dealings with Lee Kuan Yew and there was no finding that the will was procured by fraud or undue influence. Probate for Lee Kuan Yew’s will had been granted by the courts in 2015. Probate had been sought on the urging of Lee Hsien Loong and Lucien Wong, before he became Attorney-General.” /TISG